GV2GIS-Geographical Information Systems

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Jess Neumann

Email: j.l.neumann@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

The module introduces students to the principles, techniques and applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Following an online introductory lecture the focus is 'hands-on', based on a series of practical sessions to introduce students to basic tasks including: working with different types of spatial data and their storage and management; setting coordinate systems and projections; geoprocessing, creating and editing data, spatial analysis, symbology, labelling and map design.

In the first half of term students work though a set of introductory step-by-step practicals, these are based on the Reading Whiteknights Campus and are designed to familiarise students with key GIS techniques. Building on this foundation, students then apply more advanced techniques to carry out an independent project. The module is 'hands-on' allowing students to explore digital map data from a range of sources for a wide range of applications in human and physical geography and environmental science.


The aim of the module is to teach the principles and applications of GIS (ArcGIS), providing students with the technical skills and understanding to analyse spatial data from a wide range of sources across different applications.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Upon completion of the module it is expected that students will be able to:

  • •Manage, add, interrogate and save different types of data in a GIS.

  • • Obtain spatial and digital map information (e.g. aerial imagery, topographic basemaps, geology and landcover maps, landscape feature data) from relevant sources.

  • • Create and edit new spatial data (points, lines and polygons).

  • • Understand and apply suitable symbology and labels.

  • • Apply basic spatial functions and queries on their data.

  • • Produce maps of publication standard.

Additional outcomes:

Students will also learn about and be expected to employ appropriate file management for saving and storing their data and how to write a report.  

Outline content:

The first half of the term follows a set of step-by-step practicals based on the Reading University Campus that introduce students to the potential of GIS including: data sources and data input; data display and 'on-screen' digitising; coordinate systems; geoprocessing; spatial analysis, symbology, labelling and map composition and design. Students are expected to complete a short field-based exercise in week 3. The remaining practical sessions during the second half of the term allow students to develop their new GIS skills further, by working on an independent topic and completing a report supported by maps and analysis. The choice of topics vary but recent examples include: suitability analysis to identify potential sites for new housing developments / new woodland planting for flood risk mitigation / siting wind farms for renewable energy generation; analysing impacts of flooding in urban areas; indices of social and economic deprivation.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The approach is practical and 'hands-on' with most of the teaching and learning taking place in computer labs. Students will be taught to download the relevant GIS software onto their own laptops and will be encouraged to consolidate techniques learnt during practical sessions in their own time. Additional drop-in help sessions will be arranged throughout the term which students can sign up to. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 2
Practicals classes and workshops 18
Fieldwork 2
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 18
    Advance preparation for classes 25
    Preparation of practical report 30
    Revision and preparation 3
    Reflection 2
Total hours by term 100 0 0
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 60
Practical skills assessment 20
Class test administered by School 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

This module is 100% assessed through coursework (2 assessments).

1. Campus Practical (40%) – students will submit 1* A4 map of publication standard and complete an online Blackboard test which evaluates their learning and demonstrates their GIS skills and understanding (word count max. 700 words).

  • Students have the choice of 2 maps to design for the assessment.
Submission date: Thursday in Week 7 of the Autumn Term

2. Independent topic (60%) – students will write and submit a report which must include professionally designed maps (word count max. 1000 words). 

Students can choose 1 of 2 topics to write up.

Submission date: Thursday in Week 1 of the Spring Term

Formative assessment methods:
Students may be expected to undertake and submit formative assignments on specific technical topics related to learning complex software.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:


    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-assessment will be a re-submission of the second piece of coursework (the report).

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 8 April 2019


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