MSc
2021 start

Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Faculty of Social Sciences

Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences

Acquire the theoretical knowledge, technical skills and practical experience you need to launch a successful career in the fields of GIS, applied policy research or spatial data analysis.
Image of Rachael Low, postgraduate student in the Department of Geography

Course description

This course will provide you with the mix of technical skills, practical experience and theoretical understanding you need to launch a successful career in the fields of GIS, applied policy research or spatial data analysis.

You’ll develop a wide variety of knowledge in areas such as advanced spatial analysis, geovisualisation, policy applications of GIS in practice, and thematic mapping and cartogram creation.

Facilities and equipment

Our postgraduate study rooms are equipped with the latest industry-standard GIS software and a range of other specialist tools. GIS facilities are available on all 1,500 networked computers across campus.

Both departments are based in the Geography and Planning Building on the edge of Weston Park.

Modules

The first semester focuses on core skills and knowledge acquisition, whereas in the second semester you'll develop more advanced skills.

You'll put your knowledge and skills into practice when you write a dissertation on a relevant topic that matters to you.

Core modules:

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 module covers the major sources of data used to study inequalities and the variety of ways in which they can be displayed to aid both understanding and analysis. This includes the human cartography and human-scaled visualisations that were used to create the famous Worldmapper maps and how to overlay conventional thematic mapping of data onto online maps such as Bing and Google Maps. In addition, the module introduces students to a range of techniques used for the analysis of socio-economic data. Some of the practical and policy-related issues which arise in this type of analysis are also considered. The course includes practical sessions using state-of-the-art software.

15 credits
Quantitative Analysis

This module introduces students to powerful and commonly used 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 seminar sessions and SPSS practicals to build practical software skills alongside conceptual understanding.

15 credits
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.

15 credits
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.

15 credits

Optional module (15 credits):
One module from available unrestricted modules offered by Geography or Urban Studies and Planning.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's 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. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Teaching

There are lectures, seminars, computer workshops and tutorials.

Due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, plans for the advertised academic year have not yet been finalised. The delivery of our courses will continue to be guided by national guidelines for education which balance educational needs with the safety of our students and staff. During the pandemic the international elements of our courses have been taught with virtual field classes and placements using distance research methods to work with international partners. This approach was commended by the external examiner and received excellent feedback from students.

The field class and placement are both integral and valuable to our international development courses and our intention is to reinstate these in the future. This will be determined by whether it is possible and responsible to do so in line with the coronavirus situation in the UK and our overseas destinations. 

Assessment

You’re assessed on your coursework and a dissertation.

Duration

  • 1 year full-time

Your career

The employability of our graduates is of paramount importance to us. The development of skills, knowledge and personal attributes that enhance your career underpins our programme design. We have a dedicated Employability Manager, Amy Woolley, to support you. We’ll prepare you for employment after graduation.

How we'll help you prepare for your future career

Student profiles

The course was really interesting and engaging. My dissertation was the culmination of all the skills I had learnt, which gave me the confidence I needed to begin my career as a GIS research analyst.

Emma Holgate
MSc Applied GIS

Entry requirements

For UK students, the usual entry requirement is a 2:1 degree or evidence of equivalent achievement (for example, a professional qualification combined with work experience).

Applications are also welcomed from candidates with a 2:2 degree, although evidence of work experience or other activity is generally expected.

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Apply

You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

Contact

usp-admissions@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 6900

geography-admissions@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 7900

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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