This course is discontinued

SGO4030 – Geographical Information Systems

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer-based data processing tool used to manage, analyze, and present spatial information. This course is designed for students who are newcomers to the field of GIS and will introduce many of the basic concepts and steps necessary for completing GIS analysis within the social sciences. Topics covered in the course include a history of GIS; data collection and management; techniques for spatial analysis; map design and visualization; and uncertainty. The lectures will focus on fundamental GIS theory and concepts, while lab exercises will provide hands-on experience with ArcGIS, one of the leading GIS software programs. A group project will integrate the knowledge from lectures and labs and provide students with the opportunity to use GIS to address a problem of local significance.

Learning outcome

Aims of knowledge

You will:

  • Understand how GIS is different from other analytical approaches.
  • Learn about common file formats, GIS data sources, and the integration of other data types including those not explicitly formatted for GIS.
  • Receive guidance on developing research questions that can be explored through GIS.
  • Gain an overview of various analysis techniques and how they might be applied within the social sciences.
  • Identify common errors (and how to avoid them) throughout the data collection and analysis process.

Aims of Learning

You will:

  • Develop a spatial question related to your own interests in the social sciences.
  • Find, collect and organize data for use in a GIS.
  • Plan and carry out your own GIS analysis.

Critical approach

You will:

  • Explain how GIS and social science research can be effectively integrated.
  • Demonstrate the use of GIS as a social science research method.
  • Critically discuss issues related to data reliability and validity.


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

Admission to this course is done on the basis of specific rules. For further information, please read: Rangeringsregler ved SV-fakultetet.

"Privatister" cannot take this course.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

This course is part of the Master Program in Human Geography. It is open to students who have completed their Bachelor studies and have been accepted to the Master program.

Recommended previous knowledge

Basic computer skills are the foundation for success in this course. Students are expected to work comfortably within the Windows XP interface and manage files and folders in Windows Explorer. Basic tasks using Excel are part of most lab exercises, for example: entering data and performing simple mathematical operations. Students with poor computer skills will have difficulty following the course and extra assistance will not be available.

Overlapping courses

Although final examination in this course is different, it shares the same lectures and lab exercises with SGO1910 – Introduction to Geographical Information Systems (GIS). If you have taken SGO1910, you cannot take this course.


This course will be taught at The University of Oslo, Blindern campus. Other locations in Oslo may be used.

Teaching is held mainly during daytime and is organized as a combination of lectures and seminars. There will be ten 2-hour lectures and 12 seminars throughout the semester, as specified in the detailed teaching plan.

The lectures and seminars will take place in English. The course is part of the regular course provision at the Faculty of Social Science and is designed for both Norwegian students and students on exchange programmes or bilateral agreements.

There are two compulsory activities in the course: a 50 point mid-term quiz and a portfolio of eight completed lab exercises. Students who have failed to complete the compulsory activities cannot take the exam. Completed and approved compulsory work is valid until the course is no longer offered.


The Faculty of Social Science is responsible for the exam(s), and exam(s) are/is normally held at The University of Oslo, Blindern campus. Other locations in Oslo may be used.

Students will submit an individual essay that will count as 30% of the final grade. A 3-hour written exam will count as 70% of the final grade.

Language of examination

Exam questions will be provided in English only.

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.

Examination results are available in StudentWeb within three weeks after the examination-date, if no other information is given on the Webpage for the current semester.

Explanations and appeals

Routines for complaints about exam grades and reason for grading at the Department for Sociology and Human Geography.

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.


This course is evaluated half way through every semester and every four years the course undergoes a thorough evaluation.

An external auditor regularly evaluates the academic quality of the course and he/she makes a written report every year.

Facts about this course




Autumn 2009


Autumn 2009

Teaching language