Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - SACO8015

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module introduces Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and considers its application across a range of disciplines. Through a combination of lectures and computer practicals, this module provides a theoretical background and practical application of skills in collection, management, visualisation, analysis and interpretation of spatial data.

GIS are increasingly being used in many different disciplines (e.g., Geography, Environmental studies, Conservation, Politics, International relations, Psychology, Economics, Business, Anthropology, Archaeology, Sociology, Urban Studies, Architecture, Engineering Sciences), to help solve a wide range of "real world" environmental, economic and social problems. Examples of GIS applications to solve environmental problems include analysis of land-use and landcover changes, monitoring spatial patterns of species distributions and population dynamics, conservation planning, climate change, hydrological modelling, natural resource management). GIS can also help to map and analyse economic data with a spatial component and to assist agricultural, environmental and resource economists to consider spatial complexities within their analyses. Applications of GIS in social sciences include, public health, criminology, education, poverty/income inequalities, geopolitics, conflict analysis, voting patterns and behaviours, urban and rural planning, transport planning, emergency planning, real-estate, retail analysis, history, geo-demographics, data-driven public policy). As research and practice moves towards the acquisition, manipulation and analysis of large datasets with explicit geographic reference, employers increasingly require GIS skills to handle spatial data. This module provides enhanced employability skills relevant to research and commercial needs.

Indicative topics:
• Introduction to the fundamental principles of GIS
• Introduction to remote sensing (i.e. use of air-photos and satellite images to generate maps)
• Principles of cartography, coordinate systems and projections
• Data sources and methods of data acquisition
• Types of spatial data, working with raster and vector data
• Mapping (how to create and transform maps),
• Elementary database management and spatial query
• Overview of a GIS software (e.g. ArcGIS Pro)
• GIS operations (e.g. Calculating area, Intersection of polygons, buffers, digitising etc.)
• Spatial analysis in GIS

The module is designed for beginner students who do not have any previous knowledge of geography, mapping or spatial analysis and it does not require mathematical or statistical skills.


Contact hours

Private Study: 126
Contact Hours: 24
Total: 150


Optional to the following courses:

• MSc in Environmental Leadership;
• MSc Conservation [all pathways]
• MSc Ethnobotany,
• MA Social Anthropology: Humanitarian and Environmental Crises
• MA Peace and Conflict Studies
• MA International Relations
• MA Security and Terrorism
• MSc Development Economics
• MSc Economics

Also available as an elective module

Cannot be taken with DICE8490

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
• Group presentation based on solving a particular spatial problem, 30%
• Individual report including a substantial GIS analysis, related to a spatial research project 1,500 words (70%).

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.

The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Have a systematic understanding of knowledge of the principles of GIS and a clear understanding of the application of GIS using real world examples
2 Be able to acquire, combine and manipulate data from multiple sources in a GIS in order to deal and solve practical problems in different disciplines across social sciences, natural science and humanities
3 Have a comprehensive understanding of the principals underlying the analysis of spatial data and remote sensing data and be able to produce appropriate maps
4 Have acquired practical technical skills on GIS analytical techniques
5 Be able to generate and critically evaluate GIS and remote sensing outcomes and write reports on GIS mapping and analysis.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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