CSM3047 - GIS for Geologists (2019)

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MODULE CODECSM3047 MODULE CONVENERDr Hannah Hughes (Coordinator)
Number of Students Taking Module (anticipated) 40
DESCRIPTION - summary of the module content

This module provides an introduction to the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in geology. This is an essential requirement for accreditation and a strong selling point for most geological employment. The software you will use includes ArcGIS but other packages (e.g., Micromine) will be included. This module trains you to produce high quality cartographic outputs that can be used to inform decision making.

Pre-requisites include CSM1028 and CSM2184. A general ability to use spreadsheets and PC operating systems is also required. This module can link to field and exploration techniques modules: CSM3379, CSM3151 and CSM3048.

AIMS - intentions of the module

The aim of the module is to provide you with a practical introduction to Geographical Information Systems and Science for use as a Geoscientist. You will build on the introductory GIS skills that you have gained from the CSM1028 and CSM2184. This module will develop your ability to use core GIS skills, concepts, and techniques in a range of applied scenarios enabling you to assess, quantify and test the significance of patterns and spatial relationships of environmental features.

INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES (ILOs) (see assessment section below for how ILOs will be assessed)

Practical sessions are progressive and build on your skills to increase your independence in problem solving.

On successful completion of this module, you should be able to:

Module Specific Skills and Knowledge:

1 Understand how GIS are used in the geosciences;

2 Use, with limited guidance, GIS software to view and manipulate spatial geological data;

3 Understand the concept of spatial variation and correlation;

4 Understand the properties that distinguish spatial data from other types of data;

5 Describe the properties of spatial data models and be aware of the significance of scale;

6 Gain knowledge of data representation and understand how geological phenomena are referenced;

7 Gain knowledge of a range of analytical and spatial prediction techniques in geographical information science;

8 Employ technical methods in GIS for a range of tasks including entering and handling spatial data, and executing functionality such as buffering and overlay;

Discipline Specific Skills and Knowledge:

9 Analyse geological data using appropriate techniques with limited guidance;

10 Review the techniques available for accurate and quantitative analysis of spatial data;

11 Use spatial data, with support, to answer quantitative and qualitative geological questions;

12 Understand the importance of the spatial characteristics for geological data;

13 Analyse and critically interpret geological data to synthesise information;

14 Evaluate the issues involved in applying IT skills within the specific context of applied geology;

Personal and Key Transferable / Employment Skills and Knowledge:

15 Use, with some support, computers and information technology to answer geological questions using spatial data;

16 Use self-directed learning to evaluate and synthesise examples from the literature into written work, and to effectively use cited sources to support written arguments in theory and analysis;

17 Understand the planning, logistical and data requirements for modern GIS-supported geoscientific endeavours (such as fieldwork and desk-based analysis) globally;

18 Demonstrate the ability to work with the correct ethos, whether that be alone or as part of a group with the aim of attaining the learning objectives.

SYLLABUS PLAN - summary of the structure and academic content of the module

- What is a GIS? – we will uncover fundamentals to geographic information science such as the structure of a GIS, data inputs, hardware and software requirements, and the potential uses of GIS;

- Types of mapping data and visualisation – we will explore the different data types used in GIS (e.g., raster, vector);

- Data management and database design – effective management and storage of data is essential to maximise outputs from GIS, as is the structure of data inputs into GIS work flow charts to plan GIS analyses and trouble-shooting data for analysis;

- Coordinate systems and projections – understanding the difference between geographic and measured coordinates and the difference types of cartographic projection and cadastral datasets is fundamental to facilitating global use of GIS, allowing you to work anywhere in the world;

- Remote Sensing – the basics of remote sensing, sources of satellite imagery and uses of remote sensing data in the geosciences. This will also cover the theories and methods of earth observation from aircraft and orbital satellites for geoscientific research;

- Qualitative vs. quantitative queries and models – we will explore the differences between subjective visual assessment of maps vs. numeric analysis of GIS datasets (concepts such as multi-criteria evaluation and interpolation);

- Case studies (combining satellite imagery, geological mapping, and DEM data for fluent set-up and use of GIS for the geosciences):

1)  GIS for mineral exploration and prospectivity mapping – for example, visualising geology and major geological structures, and interpreting soil and stream geochemical data in this context. This will also involve an introduction to fuzzy logic;

2)  GIS for environmental management and planning – for example, modelling terrain, hydrology, ecology and land use;

3)  GIS for risk analysis and natural hazards – for example, modelling terrain and water levels (floodplains or coastal regions) or modelling of volcanic hazards;

- Commercial systems – we will discuss the requirements of large GIS used in companies and other large organisations, as well as some of the ethical issues associated with this;

- Three dimensional (3D) GIS – uses of 3D databases and using 3D GIS in geoscience.

Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities 40.00 Guided Independent Study 110.00 Placement / Study Abroad 0.00
Category Hours of study time Description
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 10 Lectures - delivery of theoretical background
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 30 Practical classes - exercises on use of GIS and problem sets
Guided Independent Study 110 Private study


FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT - for feedback and development purposes; does not count towards module grade
Form of Assessment Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Computer-based practical classes Ongoing 1-14, 15, 17-18 Discussion with module lead and PhD demonstrators


Coursework 100 Written Exams 0 Practical Exams 0
Form of Assessment % of Credit Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
ELE Quiz 1 10 30 minute quiz with a selection of multiple choice questions 1-14 ELE provides instant feedback at the termination of each quiz
ELE Quiz 2 10 30 minute quiz with a selection of multiple choice questions 1-14 ELE provides instant feedback at the termination of each quiz
Group GIS Consultancy Project 45 Project dependent 2-6, 8-18 Written feedback to each group
Independent Coursework: Information Sheet and Map 35 Single map sheet 1-18 Written feedback to each student


DETAILS OF RE-ASSESSMENT (where required by referral or deferral)
Original Form of Assessment Form of Re-assessment ILOs Re-assessed Time Scale for Re-assessment
ELE Quiz 1 or 2 Alternative ELE quiz(es) 1-14 August Ref/Def Period
Group GIS Consultancy Project Independent essay and map  2-6, 8-18 August Ref/Def Period
Independent Coursework: Information Sheet and Map Independent information sheet and map coursework 1-18 August Ref/Def Period



Candidates are expected to reach the same level of achievement as those required in regular assessment. Independent essay and map (45%) and/or independent coursework (35%).

INDICATIVE LEARNING RESOURCES - The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of
information that you are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Convener

Basic Reading:


See ELE page textbook links, e-copies of highlighted books and chapters of books

DeMers (2005). Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems. Chapters 2-7, 9, 15-16

Longley (2011). Geographic Information Systems and Science. 3rd ed. p. 1-36, 39-45, 66-71, 75-97, 99-120, 132-141, 145, 181-187, 191-202, 229-249, 297-320.

Web based and Electronic Resources:

See ELE page and video content and other blended learning materials.



Reading list for this module:

Type Author Title Edition Publisher Year ISBN Search
Set DeMers, M.N. Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems (Chapters 2-7, 9, 15-16) 3rd Wiley 2005 0471451495 [Library]
Set Longley, P.A. Geographic Information Systems and Science (p. 1-36, 39-45, 66-71, 75-97, 99-120, 132-141, 145, 181-187, 191-202, 229-249, 297-320) 3rd Wiley 2011 978-0-470-72144-5 [Library]
Set McCoy, R.M. Field Methods in Remote Sensing (Chapters 1-3, 6-8) 1st New York Guilford Press 2005 [Library]
Set Zhu, X. GIS for Environmental Applications: A Practical Approach (Chapters 4-10) 1st Routledge 2016 978-0415829076 [Library]
Set Law, M. and Collins, A. Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop (ad hoc for troubleshooting) 3rd ESRI Press 2013 [Library]
ORIGIN DATE Thursday 06 July 2017 LAST REVISION DATE Thursday 05 September 2019
KEY WORDS SEARCH Geographical Information Systems; GIS; Geology; Geoscience; Mapping; Cartography; Computing; Science Communication; Hazards