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    MSc
    2023 start September 

    Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

    Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 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.

    The department is based in the Geography and Planning Building on the edge of Weston Park.

    Modules

    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    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.

    Please note the Professional Skills Development module runs throughout the full academic year.

    Core modules:

    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
    Principles of GIS

    This module introduces students to the core principles and skills of GIS. It covers the major sources of data used to study the lived environment and the variety of ways it can be displayed to aid both understanding and analysis. The module has a particular focus on techniques used in the analysis of socio-economic and demographic data and its potential applications. It is taught through a combination of lectures and practical workshops using ArcGIS software.

    15 credits
    Open Source GIS and visualisation

    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 spatial data visualisation and analysis project.

    15 credits
    Professional Skills Development

    This module aims to provide a range of supporting skills for home and international students, which will help you get the most out of your learning in Sheffield, and to prepare you for professional employment development at the end of your their studies. The module has three elements:

    1. Cultures of Learning - understanding how we teach at Sheffield, and how to get the most out of your study

    2. Academic English (assessment support) - sessions for students who do not have English as a native language. The sessions are particularly relevant to your assessment preparation.

    3. Employability Skills - preparing you for careers within planning, design, real estate, global development, GIS and related professional areas. 

    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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.

    Upcoming open days and campus tours

    Duration

    • 1 year full-time

    Teaching

    There are lectures, seminars, computer workshops and tutorials.

    The course has a strong applied emphasis and draws upon the extensive expertise of teaching staff in the department. This means that in addition to developing strong analytical and technical skills using GIS software, you'll be immersed in the practical applications of GIS software and its potential to solve real world problems.

    Assessment

    You’re assessed on your coursework and a dissertation.

    Your career

    Graduates go on to work for organisations such as the Office for National Statistics, Ordnance Survey, ESRI, the civil service and local government.

    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

    Department

    Our department building on the edge of Western Park

    We're an internationally-renowned centre of excellence for the study of planning, urban studies and real estate, which includes environmental policy and international development. We help make better, healthier and more sustainable places.

    We're the top-rated Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)-accredited planning school in the UK, according to the Research Excellence Framework 2021.

    Our courses will equip you with the knowledge and skills to build a successful career in planning and other urban studies and environmental professions.

    Our students are at the heart of a vibrant academic community, contributing to the department through our student-staff committee, evaluation processes and involvement in organised events.

    Our staff are approachable and we have an excellent staff-student ratio, resulting in a genuinely friendly and inclusive academic environment. Our cutting-edge research feeds directly into our teaching, and you’ll be taught by world-leading academics in urban studies and planning.

    We have an intellectual reputation for theoretical strength, especially in the fields of urban inequalities and social justice. Alongside this, many of our staff are involved in practical projects with a commitment to producing positive change in the world.

    We work with national governments, international bodies such as the UN, research councils, private business, the voluntary sector, and local communities in Sheffield, the UK and abroad.

    We're a supportive and friendly department where academics and students interact on a day-to-day basis. For this reason, we operate an open door policy and students do not need to book an appointment to talk to their lecturers.

    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

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree.

    We may also consider your application if you do not meet the standard academic requirements but you have relevant professional experience.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

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

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    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

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

    Our student protection plan

    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.