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Advanced Geographic Information Systems




Admissions requirements

Geographic Information Systems (200-level) and Quantitative Research Methods (200-level).


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is an integrating framework that utilizes spatial data to characterize and analyze past, present, and future patterns and behaviors of a range of environmental and social phenomena. GIS is a powerful analytical tool utilized across many disciplinary and multidisciplinary scientific fields, such as sustainability, environmental modeling, planning, political science, public health, and international development. Some common applications of GIS include, for example, predicting ecosystem change caused by climate change, land degradation caused by land cover change, modelling the spread of infectious diseases in relation to environmental and sociological indices, or examining the impact of flooding on different socioeconomic classes. All of these applications utilize spatial information (locational data) as a basis for analyses, which are then further characterized by various qualifying indices (attribute data).

In this course we utilize GIS to examine environmental phenomena in relation to a range of socioeconomic issues. The class is based around a series of labs, each of which is a single coherent project. Each lab includes a range of analytical and technical GIS related skills, which progressively increase in sophistication and are inherently cumulative. Students will be expected to apply concepts and procedures reviewed in class to the completion of the labs. The labs require that GIS is utilized in a scientifically sound way to manage and integrate data sets, map spatial patterns, unravel spatial relations, and ultimately to address a research question. Over the course specific spatial data types and analytical procedures will be presented via the interface of ESRI ArcGIS software. The course adapts both a conceptual and applied approach, and students will be expected to work independently and in small groups and/or with a partner.

This course builds on the introductory course Geographic Information Systems (200-level).

Course objectives

After the course, students should be able to:

  • Develop and carry out a scientifically sound GIS project,

  • Acquire skills and knowledge on the selection, integration, spatial analysis/modeling and visualization/communication of spatial information using GIS and spatial analytical methods,

  • Learn to identify and translate a spatial research question into a GIS modeling problem / solution,

  • Recognize and critically evaluate specific spatial issues in GIScience related to research,

  • Effectively demonstrate scientific writing and technical presentation skills related to a spatial topic.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The typical weekly format is a class lecture on Tuesday that emphasizes concepts, whereas Thursdays will be spent on lectures and practical examples to illustrate applications. Students are also required to attend lab hours.


In-class participation (presentation, engagement to class ideas): 10%
Labs (conceptual, practical, technical writing and production): 4 @ 15% each: 60%
Software quiz (practical): 5%
Midterm (practical and conceptual): 10%
Final exam (practical and conceptual): 15%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Required: Zhu, X. 2016. GIS for Environmental Applications: A Practical Approach. Routledge, New York, NY.

Additional articles and online readings will be provided with the course syllabus.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Paul Hudson (


Important: The class requires attendance in a weekly lab session. Students are advised to load the free version of the ESRI ArcGIS software on their laptops prior to the start of the course. All enrolled students will be provided a digital (online) license key about one week prior to the start of the course. Students who do not download the software will be expected to utilize the laboratory to complete assignments.