GEOG40850 GIS for Environmental Investigations

Academic Year 2022/2023

The module introduces students to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that allow storage, manipulation, analysis and presentation of geographical data. This is a valuable transferable skill that can be applied in both research and the workplace.

The module is based in ArcGIS, the most widely used GIS software package. It includes lectures covering theory and concepts relating to spatial data management, but it is mostly based on hands-on practical GIS exercises. GIS tools and methods will be applied within the framework of an environmental impact assessment assignment. This approach will enable students applying the acquired GIS skills to identify and assess environmental resources and to investigate the potential pressures/effects on such resources. The module promotes problem-based and practice-led learning through the application and testing of the relevant software components.

This module is only available for students taking the Online Programme in MSc Environmental Sustainability (unless places become available). It is entirely delivered online.

Students should have moderate to strong computer skills, including software installation knowledge in order to facilitate ArcGIS installation in personal PCs/laptops, and a general understanding of maps.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, students will have:

- Theoretical and practical knowledge of GIS applications, spatial data sources and data management issues;
- Working competence of ArcGIS desktop software;
- Spatial awareness for data interpretation; and
- Ability to demonstrate the application of GIS tools to environmental assessment and sustainable planning.

Indicative Module Content:

Topics include:

- GIS software (commercial and open-source resources);
- Environmental spatial data (international and national data providers and online data sources);
- Spatial data management issues (e.g. spatial coverage, quality, scale, metadata);
- GIS applications (examples of GIS use in environmental assessment and sustainable planning); and
- Practical application of ArcGIS software (ArcMap, ArcCatalog and ArcToolBox).

The practical application sessions cover:

- ArcGIS interfaces; Adding data; Layer properties; Projections and transformations; Creating and editing shapefiles and geodatabases.
- Attribute tables - Creating and managing fields; Geometry calculations; Symbology; Transparency.
- Spatial analysis with ArcToolbox: Merge, buffer, clip, erase, intersect, spatial join.
- Map layouts: Components; Exporting images.
- Basic raster data processing - e.g. slope, aspect, raster reclassification, multi-criteria analysis.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning


Online Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module is delivered online through hands-on demonstrative and problem-solving exercises. A limited number of lectures at the beginning of the module cover the theory, and introduce concepts, terminology and applications.

Students will be guided through the practicals sessions (with step-by-step handouts and video tutorials) but will self-direct their learning by applying GIS to a tailored environmental impact assessment.

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Students should have moderate to strong computer skills, including software installation knowledge in order to facilitate ArcGIS installation in personal PCs/laptops, and an understanding of maps.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
GEOG40770 - GIS for Env. Assessment, GEOG40820 - Introduction to ArcGIS, GEOG41020 - Applied GIS

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Project: Environmental assessment project Week 11 n/a Graded No


Assignment: GIS applications and technical considerations Week 6 n/a Graded No


Class Test: GIS test Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Individual feedback will be provided via Brightspace post-assessment of each assigment.

Name Role
Assoc Professor Ainhoa Gonzalez Del Campo Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

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