MSc Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS) - module descriptions

The MSc Applied GIS programme is structured in a way that maximises the development of skills and knowledge throughout the course of the 12 month programme. Assessments methods on this course will vary per module but can involve group work, presentations, individual reports or essays and portfolios or a combination of the aforementioned.

Autumn Semester

All students will take the following modules:

Data, Visualisation and GIS (15 credits)

This module represents a wide-ranging overview of the field of GIS in relation to data, visualisation and fundamental principles of GIS. Topics covered include combining attribute and geographic data, thematic mapping, mapping densities and proportions, geographical scale and classifying areas, social and spatial inequalities, micro-simulation and working with map layouts and presentations. Assessment is through a combination of lab worksheets and a GIS project.

Introduction to Quantitative Analysis (15 credits)

This module develops core quantitative competencies which underpin many of the methods used in contemporary spatial analysis. Topics covered include descriptive statistics, categorical data analysis, multivariate regression, logistic regression and factor analysis. Assessment in this module is through five equally weighted worksheets to be completed throughout the semester.

Applications of GIS (15 Credits)

This module focuses on the GIS and spatial analysis methods now widely used in professional settings, from urban planning and architecture to health care and social research. It focuses on helping students understand the potential applications of GIS in helping identify and tackle policy problems in the real world. The module is taught through a combination of case study based lectures and seminars. Assessment is through a 3,000 word written report.

Open Source GIS and Spatial Data Analysis (15 Credits)

This module focuses on data handling and analysis and on developing analysis and visualisation skills using open source software (QGIS). 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.

Spring Semester

All students will take the following modules:

Professional Research Design and Project Management (15 Credits)

This module serves as the pre-cursor to the MSc Applied GIS Dissertation and provides students with the opportunity to put together a comprehensive, focused research plan for their dissertation project, which accounts for one third of the total credits on the MSc. Students are guided through the process by expert tutors during the course of the semester. Assessment is by means of a final proposal at the end of the semester.

Advanced GIS Methods (15 Credits)

This module builds upon the GIS expertise students develop during the first semester by putting into practice some more advanced technical operations in relation to real-world data and policy problem scenarios. Advanced spatial analysis and network analysis with ArcGIS take up much of this module, which is taught through a series of inter-related computer workshops. Assessment is through a multiple choice exam and an advanced methods report.

The Professional GIS Project (15 Credits)

This is a project-based module which aims to set students a real-world professional 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. The module is assessed through a combination of an interim report, final report and group presentation.

Optional module (15 credits)

One module from available unrestricted modules offered by Geography or Urban Studies and Planning.


The final semester focuses on the development of specialist knowledge and high level research skills. It involves the completion of a the MSc Applied GIS Dissertation.

Dissertation (60 Credits)

A substantial, planned programme of research that develops to a high level: personal, generic skills; research skills; and specialist knowledge and understanding of a selected subject area. The Dissertation is prepared under the individual guidance and supervision of a member of staff in Geography or Urban Studies and Planning. You will have the opportunity to nominate a member of staff whom you wish to supervise your study.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 16 December 2019

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