GEOG20220 Introduction to GIS for the Social Sciences

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module will introduce you to the use and application of a Geographic Information System (GIS) which allows the acquisition, processing, analysis and visualisation of location-based data. With the increasing application of GIS in research and practice across a wide range of disciplines and sectors (e.g. planning, demographics, health, social and environmental sciences) and, as such, this technical skill is valuable, transferable and highly sought after.

This module will particularly introduce you to the basics of GIS and its applications in social sciences using mainly the ArcGIS Online (AGOL) software. Applying the problem-solving approach and hands-on practical sessions, you will be trained on the collection, visualization and analysis of geographic data with real-world working examples, and exercises focused on broad analytic themes that GIS is designed to handle.

The lectures will initially focus on mapping and the main parts of a GIS. Later lectures and the assessments will be concerned with the tasks that GIS is designed to handle, i.e. digitisation, spatial analysis, data management. An aspect of the course, for which you will be assessed, is the integration of GIS work with broader analyses and writing skills to produce relevant and comprehensible reports.

In the end, you will have technical skills and competencies in GIS which is highly desirable while your problem-solving, decision making, and academic writing skills will be sharpened.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module the student will have:
• Gained knowledge of GIS as a geographic tool;
• Learned the ArcGIS Online software ;
• Demonstrated an understanding of GIS through exercises.

Indicative Module Content:

For the first few weeks, each session will be a lecture format with the later session changing to a
workshop format after week 3. After this time, a problem for resolution will be set each group at
the end of the week's first session. The indicative content of the module is as follows:

Introduction to GIS and GI software
ArcGIS online and its interface; files, layers and data management
Digitising vector layers
Editing digitised layers
Field data gathering and visualization in GIS
Map layouts, symbology and simple spatial analysis
Data sourcing, visualization and management
Demography mapping

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The teaching for this module is informed by the knowledge accrued in the student's Stage 1
module. Building on the basic principles of cartography, and that they will not have used this
technology before, the strategy employed for this module is a move from basic familiarity with
the application to coincidence in using the tools necessary to produce their own mapping

Students learn individually in the first instance through early sessions of application familiarity.
This is combined with a broad understanding of cartographic principles and geometrical process.
From week 3, students are formed into Learning Teams where they are expected to resolve
technical and analytical issues in each week's second session. This allows for a shared learning
experience and an attempt to move on from mere repetition of tasks.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
GEOG20230 - Intro: GIS for Sustainability, GEOG30830 - Geographic Information Systems

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Exercise 1: This assessment will test your understanding of geospatial data collection, and visualisation techniques leading to the production of an area map. Week 6 n/a Graded No


Class Test: GIS Test: This is the final assessment of this module testing all the indicative outcome of this module 1 hour End of Trimester Exam n/a Graded No


Assignment: Exercise 2; In this assessment, you would explore space-people relationship using open source spatial datasets, visualization techniques, demography mapping and reporting skills Week 9 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

In the move from more complex assessment forms to a simpler structure, there was an opportunity to enhance feedback. The focus for this module is on the movement from summative to formative assessment across the three assessment components. In the first instance, students are presented with a rubric for each assessment through Brightspace. This allows for automated feedback in the first exercise, a pass-fail component. This is to place emphasis on overcoming software unfamiliarity. In the second exercise, the students are provided with an in-class feedback structure to allow for a general understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of general cartographical representation schemas. Finally, a feedforward based approach is taken in light of the links with the S3 module, Projects in GIS. Students are encouraged to develop their communication and organisational skills and combine it with knowledge from other modules.

[1] Longley, P. A., Goodchild, M. F., Maguire, D. J., & Rhind, D. W. (2005). Geographic information systems and science. John Wiley & Sons.

[2] Ballas, D., Clarke, G., Franklin, R. S., & Newing, A. (2017). GIS and the social sciences: Theory and applications. Routledge.

[3] Steinberg, S. J., & Steinberg, S. L. (2005). Geographic information systems for the social sciences: investigating space and place. Sage Publications.
Name Role
Assoc Professor Ainhoa Gonzalez Del Campo Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Tine Ningal Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Mr Dominic Robinson Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Thurs 16:00 - 16:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Wed 14:00 - 14:50