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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY5117M Introduction to GIS Skills for Ecologists

10 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Christopher Hassall

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

GIS is becoming increasingly important as a tool in landscape ecology and conservation, leading to a need for more training in this area. This module will provide an introduction to GIS for ecologists that assumes no prior expertise. It consists of a series of lectures and practicals intended to provide students with the skills and tools that will enable them to answer simple ecological questions through basic modelling and additionally gain the confidence to tackle more complex problems.


To introduce the use of GIS, and provide students with a suite of skills and tools that will enable them to answer basic spatial ecology questions.

The GIS course is focused on skills, providing valuable experience of an industry-standard computer package for the analysis and storage of geographical data. In addition to your core work with the package, we encourage you to work together to overcome issues and this allows the development of team skills. Finally, your final project for the module will involve the writing of a report that is modelled on the sort of publication that would be submitted as part of a formal consultancy analysis.

Learning outcomes
On completion, students will have an understanding of how GIS can be used to answer relevant ecological questions. They will also have gained an understanding of some of the fundamental problems associated with data input and manipulation. They will have also gained experience of preparing simple GIS-based ecological models.

Skills outcomes
Data input and manipulation skills.
Simple modelling skills.
Able to work with ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcINFO and ArcGRID.
Report writing skills.


Linked lecture and practical sessions will cover:
1. The basic theory and concepts of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) including vector and raster data types and map projections.
2. Techniques of interpolation and model building.
3. The origin, suitability and availability of external data sources for use within a GIS.
4. The use of a number of skills that will enable confidence with ArcGIS
5. The different applications available within Arcworkstation with focus on ArcMap, ArcCatalog and ArcToolbox.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Computer Class83.0024.00
Private study hours66.00
Total Contact hours34.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Review of lecture and practical material. Background reading and completion of coursework.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Through assessment and contact during practical sessions. Feedback will be initiated in the practicals and individually as written comments on the assessments.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ProjectProject Report70.00
Computer Exercise1 x summative assessment30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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