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Introducing Mapping, Spatial Data & GIS

Discover the diverse uses of mapping, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial data, and how they underpin decision-making in every aspect of our lives.
University of Oxford University Offices Wellington Square Oxford ,OX1 2JD United Kingdom
(4418) 65270000

Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : General/Others

Function : General

Starts on : 15th Sep 2014

Duration : 10 Weeks

Difficulty : Advanced

About the course

Discover the diverse uses of mapping, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial data, and how they underpin decision-making in every aspect of our lives. Explore and critically appraise maps to gain a better appreciation of the world around you. Learn how to use free open-source software (Quantum GIS) to import, display and analyse spatial data. Collect and integrate spatial data from a variety of sources.

Experience realistic tasks in the context of international case studies, which range from resource management, wildlife conservation and leisure hiking to archaeology and disaster relief. Apply your learning to create maps which illustrate your own interests or hobbies, based on sound cartographic principles.

Course Aim

This course aims to introduce students to the basic concepts and diverse uses of mapping, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial data, and equip them with the knowledge to create robust, well-documented spatial data and maps for their own purposes.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Teaching Outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:

  • The diverse ways in which spatial data and GIS analyses are applied to help people better understand the world around them,
  • How they might source, edit and use spatial data in their own context,
  • Good practice for managing spatial data,
  • The definition of projections, datums and coordinate systems, and how knowledge of these allows different data sources to be mapped together,
  • The importance of metadata to record the source of data, and the degree of precision and uncertainty of spatial or attribute data,
  • - The difference between raster and vector data formats, and the advantages and disadvantages of each,
  • - The difference between a GIS layer and the data it represents.

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • Locate and acquire online data relevant to their personal interests,
  • Import their own data into a GIS from: GPS, hard-copy maps, digital imagery, shapefiles and XY coordinates,
  • Manage the spatial references of different data sources to align them within a GIS,
  • Manipulate and interrogate layers in a GIS,
  • Create basic maps with the elements necessary for readers to interpret them.

Course eligibility

Course Requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Recommended reading

To participate in this course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following book:

  • Longley, PA, Goodshild, MF, Maguire, DJ & Rhind, DW (2010) Geographic Information Systems & Science, 3rd edition, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, USA.
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Course Content

Course content:

  • What are spatial data and Geographic Information Systems?
  • Who uses spatial data, maps and GIS, and what for?
  • Understanding spatial reference systems
  • Representing spatial features
  • Interpreting maps
  • Working with raster layers
  • Working with vector layers
  • Introduction to symbology and cartography
  • Making maps
  • Introduction to spatial analysis

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