HGO4940 - Geographic Information Systems

Course content

This course explores in depth how Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be used to study social processes. GIS has become an important tool, not only for planners and in risk assessment, but also in studies of society, the environment, and the interactions between them. Through lectures, the students will learn about the fundamental components of GIS, and apply this knowledge in a series of hands-on seminars and an individual project.

Spatial data is special data. In this course, the students will learn about the unique methodological aspects of spatial data which include collecting, managing, analysing and presenting such data and the respective results. A larger section of the course is devoted to spatial analytical methods and introducing the students to basic spatial econometrics, including spatial regression.

In addition, the course will introduce the students to qualitative GIS, an expanding tool in critical geographical research using bottom-up approaches and participatory information collection to study social processes.

The course will mainly use ESRI ArcGIS, but open-source alternatives such as QuantumGIS and R will also be introduced, highlighting the diversity of available GIS software.

Learning outcome

The students will learn about the fundamental components of a GIS, from the user and software side to the particular methods used to obtain information from spatial data. More specifically, this involves distance measurements, spatial dependency and autocorrelation, spatial clustering, spatial interpolation and spatial regression methods.

The students will also learn how qualitative GIS can be used in social science research, both as an analytical tool and as an information collection tool in participatory GIS.

Knowledge

  • Understand the special nature of spatial data and how they are different from non-spatial data.
  • Learn about the key components of a GIS, including users, databases, software, and networks.
  • Learn how we can collect and manage spatial data in both file formats and databases.
  • Learn basic to advanced spatial analytical methods, including interpolation and clustering.
  • Learn about bottom-up GIS and participatory GIS.
  • Learn basic visualization techniques and cartographic principles.

Skills and competence

  • Develop skills to master GIS software such as ArcGIS, QuantumGIS, and R.
  • Apply methods and techniques discussed in lectures in hands-on seminars.
  • Unite experience from lectures and seminars to complete a project where GIS will be used to study a social phenomenon.
  • Discuss sources of uncertainty and error in spatial data.
  • Create data models used to answer specific spatial questions.

Admission

Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

This course is a part of the Master's program in Human Geography. Students with admission to other relevant master’s degree programmes can apply for admission as guest students.

Students with admission to the programme must each semester register which courses and examinations they wish to sign up for in StudentWeb.

Prerequisites

Formal prerequisite knowledge

SGO1910 - Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Similar introductory GIS courses must be approved upon application to the student advisor (by email).Basic understanding of computer systems recommended.

Teaching

The teaching will consist of lectures and seminars.

In addition, the students will individually work on a larger project. The seminars will consist of hands-on lab exercises where each student will work on solving spatial questions using GIS. The seminars will also function as a project helpdesk, where the students can receive assistance with their ongoing project work.

Participation is mandatory in 80% of the seminars. 

Completed and approved compulsory course work is valid as long as the course is offered. Students who have failed to complete the compulsory attendance cannot take the exam.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.

Examination

Individual project report and oral examination.

Assessment of the course is based on the individual project report, adjusted through an oral examination centered on the project report.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

It is recommended to request an explanation of your grade before you decide to appeal.

Appeal

Explanation

The deadline to request an explanation is one week after the grade is published. For oral and practical examinations, the deadline is immediately after you have received your grade.

The explanation should normally be given within two weeks after you have asked for it. The examiner decides whether the explanation is to be given in writing or verbally.

Ask for explanation of your grade in this course:

  • home exam

If you want to appeal to the grade you were awarded, you should first request an explanation of the grade. If you submit an appeal, your project report will reassessed by two new examiners. The new examiners will not have access to the original grade or the original examiners' explanation of this. Please note that the grade from the appeal process is final, and the grade awarded may be the same as, better or worse than the original grade. Only if the assessment of the project report is changed, a new oral exam will be arranged.

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Evaluation

The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course

Credits

10

Level

Master

Teaching

Every spring

Examination

Every spring

Teaching language

English