GEOL40580 Remote Sensing

Academic Year 2023/2024

This 2.5-credit module provides an overview of how remotely sensed data are used to constrain surface and sub-surface attributes of the Earth. The module will summarise the nature, advantages, and limitations of the various active and passive Earth Observation platforms, such as satellites, aircraft and drones. It will in tandem provide a synopsis of the main types and geo-scientific applications of remote sensing data (e.g. optical, multi-spectral, thermal, hyperspectral, gravity, electro-magnetics, synthetic aperture radar, Global Navigation Satellite Systems, LiDAR). An overview of how to access and process remotely-sensed data will also be provided. The module will also explore how such data can be used to make three-dimensional images of the Earth’s surface and to characterize changes and motions of the ground surface in time. The use of remote-sensing data to constrain sub-surface properties, geometries and deformation sources will also be explored. The module will include several practical opportunities to analyse and synthesise various remotely sensed data sets by using a Geographical Information System (GIS) and open source processing tools.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this module, you will gain an overview of and be able to articulate:
(1) The main active and passive remote sensing techniques and how they are used in geosciences
(2) The fundamental physical principles of underpinning the use of those remote sensing techniques
(3) Where to find, and how to access, sources of remote sensing data in offline and online repositories.
(4) Technical and digital skills in workflows required to analyse remote sensing data.
(5) How to relate remote sensing data to subsurface characteristics and processes.

Indicative Module Content:

Lectures (1 hour)
1. Nature, propagation and scattering of electromagnetic waves
2. Optical and Multispectral imaging
3. InfraRed and Hyperspectral imaging
4. Photogrammetry
5. LiDAR
6. Gravity and magnetic remote sensing
7. Radar and SAR
8. InSAR and GPS
9. Summary of remote sensing as applied to surface and sub-surface characterisation.
10. Overview of Earth Observation platforms and data - past, present & future

Practicals (3 hours)
1. Multispectral satellite image processing and analysis
2. Generation of Digital Surface Models from photogrammetry of drone-captured optical data
3. Geological mapping with Multi-/Hyperspectral imagery
4. SAR image analysis
5. Measurement and analysis of fault/volcano deformation with InSAR

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Computer Aided Lab


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching and learning on this module comprises a set of lectures and practical exercises that encompass: active/task-based learning; enquiry & problem-based learning; and case-based learning. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: A written exam with multiple questions covering a variety of topcs introduced on the course and demanding short concise answers. 1 hour End of Trimester Exam No Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Continuous Assessment: Weekly submission of course work (end-products of assigned work flows and/or answers to problems posed). Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer Yes - 1 Hour
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

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

This can be through different approaches such as oral, audio, video and/or written/annotated feedback, either in-class, out of class, in meetings, through the VLE, by email, using rubrics, etc.

‘Introduction to Remote Sensing’, 6th Ed., 2022, by James B. Campbell, Randolph H. Wynne, and Valerie A. Thomas [Available as ebook via UCD Library]

‘Remote Sensing with ArcGIS Pro’, 1st Ed. (2019), by Tammy E. Parece, John A. McGee & James B. Campbell [UCD Library online GIS resources] / [ArcGIS online help and user guide]

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

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