image of world map

Specialist Modules.

Semester 1

Data, Visualisation and GIS

This module shows students how to deal with spatial data which they will need to use to both identify and understand patterns of social and spatial inequalities. The course combines informal seminars with hands-on practical sessions using the industry standard ArcGIS software and assumes no prior knowledge. The module covers the major sources of data used to study inequalities (e.g. population censuses and other large government surveys ) and the variety of ways in which they can be visualised to aid understanding and analysis. The module introduces students to a range of spatial analysis techniques used for the analysis of socio-economic data and considers some of the practical and policy-related issues which arise in this type of analysis are also considered.

Applications of GIS

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis methods are now widely used in a large variety of professional settings, from urban planning and architecture to health care and social research. This module is therefore focused on helping students understand the potential applications of GIS in helping identify and tackle policy problems in the real world. In addition, we also encourage critical thinking about what GIS cannot do. The module is taught through a combination of case-study-based lectures and seminars and assessed via a 3,000 word written report.

Research Design

This module is designed to develop a research proposal capable of providing the basis for an empirically rich dissertation project that is both informed by, and in turns informs, theoretical and/or policy debates. The module guides students through the process of thinking through the full range of options, decisions and constraints that relate to any robust process of research design – the importance of locating research in an academic and/or policy literature/debate, formulating clear and purposeful research questions, sourcing suitable data to bring to bear on those questions, identifying appropriate GIS and/or statistical methods to apply to those data, and thinking through ethical and safety considerations. Through self-guided thinking and meeting with supervisors students produce substantive research proposal documents that form the roadmap for their dissertation projects.

Quantitative Analysis

This module introduces students to many of the most powerful and commonly used bivariate and multivariate statistical methods in the social sciences. It assumes no prior statistical knowledge and focuses on the practical research priorities of selecting, conducting and interpreting the most appropriate test with an eye to, rather than an obsession with, the underpinning statistical foundations. The module uses weekly interactive seminar sessions and hands-on SPSS worksheets to build both the conceptual and practical skills needed for applied statistical work.

Semester 2

Advanced GIS Methods

This unit is aimed at students who already have a good degree of knowledge in ArcGIS. The module aims to develop in students a high degree of competence in relation to advanced spatial analysis, network analysis, understanding spatial approaches to problem solving and the theories and precepts which underlie software applications in GIS. The module is taught in a series of inter-related computer workshops focusing on real-world data and policy problem scenarios. The assessment for this module is based on a multiple choice exam and a 2,000 word advanced methods report.

Open Source GIS and Spatial Data Analysis

The availability of software, hardware and data for geographical information systems (GIS) has increased rapidly in recent years. The wide array of new open source GIS applications and a proliferation of spatial open data has created exciting new possibilities for research in the field. This module is therefore focused on developing analysis and visualisation skills using open source software (focusing on QGIS) and in data handling and analysis. Students will learn through a combination of computer workshops and lectures and be exposed to the latest developments in the field. Assessment is by means of a visualisation and data analysis project.

The Professional GIS Project

This is a project-based module which aims to set students a real-world professional geographical information systems (GIS) project for an external client using a variety of different spatial datasets and GIS methods. The aim of the module is to prepare students for professional practice in GIS and spatial analysis through a group-work approach which places emphasis on collaboration, team working and objective-setting. This module is taught through a short series of lectures and group seminars. The module is assessed through a combination of an interim report, final report and group presentation.

Full Year

Dissertation Project

The dissertation in many represents both the culmination of the year’s development in conceptual and technical skills as well as the opportunity for students to put that learning into practice through extended research into a subject of their choosing. Students are guided through the dissertation by individual supervisors to produce a substantial piece of original research that both embeds and advances the mix of conceptual, analytical and technical GIS and statistical skills that they have developed through the year. The result is a high-quality, technically advanced research document that brings together – and showcases to employers – the range of conceptual, analytical and rich technical skills that students have developed throughout the course.