GEOG40820 GIS Principles and Applications

Academic Year 2023/2024

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) allow the acquisition, storage, analysis and visualisation of location-based data. GIS are increasingly applied in research and practice across a wide range of disciplines and sectors (e.g. planning, demographics, health, social and environmental sciences) and, as such, GIS skills are valuable, transferable and highly sought after.

This module will introduce students to ArcGIS, the most widely used GIS software package. It will enable students developing an understanding of conceptual, theoretical and practical geographical considerations and, most importantly, gaining practical GIS skills for their use and application. These skills will cover spatial data creation, sourcing, management, mapping and geoprocessing.

The module is largely delivered through hands-on computer lab-based practicals, complemented with lectures that will cover theory and analytical themes that GIS are designed to handle. The practicals will focus on the analysis, visualisation and interpretation of spatial data to support environmental and socio-economic assessments, using demonstrative examples and problem-solving exercises. A significant part of the learning will be self-directed, allowing students to develop their skills and spatial awareness through the design and delivery of a spatial analysis project, tailored to individual research and/or interests.
Computer requirement :

Although this module is taught in a GIS-enabled computer lab, access to lab is limited to designated hours. Thus, It is recommended that you have access to a personal laptop to complete this module given the amount of autonomous learning hours involved. If you plan to purchase a new computer, you can find the recommended ArcGIS Pro configuration at this link:

UCD Laptop scheme:

The UCD Laptop scheme is available to you if you need a laptop for your studies and may not be able to finance it. This is a long term loan scheme, where eligible students can borrow a new, free laptop for the duration of your studies. This scheme is open to new and continuing students. To be eligible for a laptop you must be registered as a full or part-time student in 2022-23 and be from a low income household (annual income below €50,840). Students who enter through the HEAR pathway, do not need to provide supporting documentation. Non-EU fee-paying students, Erasmus and Study Abroad students are not eligible to apply.

Supporting documentation must be provided to be considered for this scheme. Your application will be assessed on your eligibility, and on the information you provide in the final question of this application. Applications for the UCD laptop scheme are open. Please visit this website - You can also send an email to: with any queries.

Laptops in the Library

Laptops can be borrowed from the James Joyce and the Health Sciences Libraries. Laptops can be borrowed for up to 4 hours at a time. There is no charge to borrow a laptop. However, fines will apply for late returned, lost, stolen or damaged laptops.

Learn more here -

Please be aware that these loaned computers may not meet the minimum requirements for optimal GIS functionality.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module the student will have:

- Theoretical and practical knowledge of GIS applications, spatial data sources and data management issues;
- Working competence of the ArcGIS software package;
- Ability to demonstrate the application of GIS tools to support environmental and socio-economic assessments;
- Spatial awareness for data intepretation; and
- An understanding of the relationship between spatial analysis and report writing.

Indicative Module Content:

ArcGIS interfaces; Adding data; Layer properties; Projections and transformations; Creating and editing shapefiles.
Attribute tables - Creating and managing fields; Geometry calculations; Symbology; Transparency.
Geodatabases. Data types and organising data; Relationships between objects.
GPS and Mobile Apps.
Accessing online data.
Spatial analysis with ArcToolbox: Merge, buffer, clip, erase, intersect, spatial join.
Map layouts: Components; Exporting images.
Working with raster datasets: Spatial analyst tools.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module is largely delivered in a computer lab through hands-on demonstrative and problem-solving exercises. A limited number of lectures will deliver the theory and introduce concepts, terminology and applications.

Students will be guided through the practicals but will self-direct their learning by applying GIS to an area/topic relevant to their discipline, research or area of interest. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

None required

Learning Recommendations:

Basic file management
IT skills

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
GEOG40770 - GIS for Env. Assessment, GEOG40850 - GIS for Environ Investigations, GEOG41020 - Applied GIS

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Critical review of GIS applications Week 4 n/a Graded No


Project: A spatial analysis on a topic of choice Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Studio Examination: GIS test Week 12 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
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Individual feedback will be provided via Brightspace post-assessment. This will be complemented with in-class feedback. The project assignment will be submitted in printed form and peer-review feedback will be requested in class post-completion.

Name Role
Assoc Professor Ainhoa Gonzalez Del Campo Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Gerald Mills Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Tobi Morakinyo Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Tine Ningal Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Zikang Ji Tutor
Oluwafemi Obe Tutor
Mr Dominic Robinson Tutor
Dr Srikanta Sannigrahi Tutor