MSc in Applied Geographical Information Systems

The Applied Geographical Information Systems (Applied GIS) pathway aims to develop students in-depth knowledge of GIS-based methods for monitoring the social/human and natural environments.  It will also help develop the student's understanding of the spatial interaction of social/human and environmental factors.  Importantly, it seeks to increase the student's capability to extract social/human and/or environmental information from a variety of sources, such as remotely sensed data, and to undertake analysis and assessment using appropriate methods within a GIS framework.


Key learning outcomes for the Applied GIS pathway include:

  1. Ability to evaluate the benefits and challenges of using GIS for a variety of social and/or environmental applications

  2. Ability to discuss, critically, the principles of information extraction from social/human, environmental and/or remotely sensed data sources

  3. Ability to plan, design and evaluate appropriate methods to analyse social/human and/or environmental problems using GIS

  4. Generation of social/human and/or environmental information from appropriate sources, such as census and remotely sensed data, and evaluate methods for integrating this into GIS

  5. Ability to design spatial data models, well formed databases, data acquisition strategies and spatial data analysis strategies in order to implement a GIS application effectively


The PgD stage includes a core research methods unit and two optional unit choices

Methods in GIS

The concepts, theories and methods behind the application of GIS are examined in detail.  The unit explores research design, data analysis and interpretation and presentation.  Special focus is given to methods of spatial analysis and their implementation using GIS software.  Key elements of the curriculum include: Research Design; Qualitative and Quantitative Techniques; Fundamentals of Spatial Analysis; Recent Advances in Spatial Analysis.


Optional units:

Environmental Applications of GIS

GIS and related technologies such as remote sensing have been widely employed in environmental applications for almost forty years.  The advent of satellite remote sensing allowed reliable synoptic data to be available to scientists who have developed numerous models.  This together with the decision-making tools and spatially-referenced framework of GIS offers significant support to researchers investigating different environmental phenomena.  Data from remote sensing, GPS and other sources provide a valuable input into GIS models for environmental monitoring, modelling and prediction.  This unit introduces case study examples of how GIS and related technologies can be used in environmental applications and seeks to critically evaluate their potential value.  Key elements of the curriculum include: Applicability and benefits of GIS; Practical Problem Solving and Evaluation using techniques such as Terrain Analysis, Multicriteria Evaluation, Landscape Metrics etc.


Remote Sensing for GIS Applications

This unit provides students with an introduction to the principles of remote sensing and explores its role in data gathering/information extraction for GIS applications.  Key elements of the curriculum include: Principles of Remote Sensing; Satellite Systems; Quantitative Data; GIS Integration.


Social Applications of GIS

Where an investigation into social, economic, political, and cultural characteristics and phenomena is required, GIS provides a powerful tool.  For social applications such as crime mapping and healthcare resource management, GIS can be used effectively to help model, monitor and enable (spatial) decision making based on existing criteria.  Social systems are often highly organised and complex - GIS allows this complexity to be effectively distilled into an abstraction representing the most causally related behaviour.  This unit introduces case study examples of how GIS can be used in social applications and seeks to critically evaluate their potential value.  Key elements of the curriculum include: Exemplars of GIS use in Social Applications, e.g. health, crime and urban transportation; Evaluation of the Benefits of GIS; Practical Problem Solving techniques.


The final MSc stage involves a Project and Dissertation

In this unit the student will design and undertake a substantial and unique independent research project, to be presented as an academic dissertation (max. of 15,000 words).