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Advanced Geographic Information Systems



EES:Methods, S:Methods, GED:Methods, ID:Methods, PSc:Methods, GPH:Methods

Admissions requirements

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


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is an integrating framework for utilizing spatial data to characterize and analyze past, present, and future patterns and behavior for 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 land use and climate change, modelling the spread of infectious diseases in relation to environmental and sociological indices, or predicting changes in voting patterns in relation to demographic change. All of these applications utilize spatial information (locational data) as a basis, which is then further characterized by various qualifying indices (attribute data).

In this course you will address a question within a subfield of your major by developing a (small) research project which utilizes GIS. The research project will be coordinated such that students develop specific spatial analytical skill sets relevant to their major. Students will apply GIS in a scientifically sound way to manage and integrate data sets, map spatial patterns, unravel spatial relations, and ultimately to address a research question. During the course specific spatial analytical methods will be presented (e.g. use of ArcGIS model builder, spatial statistics, raster modeling techniques, and the application of satellite imagery / remote sensing data) and then discussed within the context of different applications relevant to LUC BSc majors (e.g., EES, GED, GPH).

The course adapts both an applied and conceptual approach, and students will be expected to work independently and in groups to tackle various problems and issues related to the identification and analysis of spatial data through a GIS framework. Before the start of class students will be provided with a list of general topics from which they can develop a more specific research project. Students should communicate the research topic (title) to the instructor for approval prior the start of the class. The class will finalize with the presentation of a scientific research poster on your subject.

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 as related to research quality,

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


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

A limited amount of lecturing. Most class time will be spent on assignments and discussions.


  • In-class participation (engagement and contribution to class ideas): 10%

  • Presentation (oral and graphical demonstration of GIS concepts): 20%

  • Two quizzes (practical skills related to ArcGIS software): 30%

  • Final project (application of GIS and academic skills to an EES, GED, or GPH topic): 40%


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

A list of articles and other readings will be provided with the course syllabus.

Longley, P. A. (2015) Geographic Information Systems Science, 4th Edition, West Sussex, England: John Wiley and Sons, p. 504.
Or (e.g. for used version):
Longley, P. A., Goodchild, M. F., McGuire, D. J., and Rhind, D. W. (2005). Geographic Information Systems and Science, 3rd Edition, West Sussex, England: John Wiley and Sons, p. 560.


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


Drs. A. Wagtendonk:


Students are recommended to load the free version of the ESRI ArcGIS software on their laptops prior to the start of the course. 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.