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Courses : Syllabi : 484

Geography 484 An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems


Dr. Piotr Jankowski

Course Description

This course introduces basic concepts and techniques of geographic information systems. Specifically, the course content includes topics such as coordinate systems, spatial data models, data input, transformation, editing and data management methods, data display and visual exploration, and introduction to GIS analysis. The concepts and fundamental GIS techniques will be explained during lectures. Students will gain hands-on experience in using GIS techniques in the lab. The GIS software used in this course will be ArcGIS. Throughout the course students will use different data sets working with lab exercises. The data sets and exercises are not selected for any particular discipline, but are used because they are easily understood by almost anyone. Students will find the data sets used in lab exercises on the CD accompanying the textbook.

A lab session will follow each lecture. The lab assignments will include a scripted part and a challenge part. The scripted part will provide step-by-step instructions on how to implement a given technique in GIS software and will not be evaluated. The challenge part will describe a task to be solved without providing step-by-step instructions and it will be evaluated. The solution of challenge task will be based on concepts and techniques introduced during the lecture and practiced in the scripted part of the lab. The challenge solution will be due prior to the start of next lab session (students will have up to one week to submit their solutions). Late submissions will not be accepted unless a valid excuse is presented to the lab TA prior of the due date (medical, family emergency, university-related field trip).


Geog 381 or Geog 380 or Geog 104 or permission of the instructor


There will be two exams (midterm and final) containing a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. Each exam is worth 25% of the final grade (25% midterm and 25% final). There will be twelve challenge assignments worth 50% of the total grade.

A: 100%-90%
B: 89%-80%
C: 79%-70%
D: 69%-60%
F: 59% and less

Books and Materials

Required: Karl Chang, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, 5th Edition (McGrawHill, 2010). Includes a CD-ROM with exercise data sets (McGrawHill, 2009).

Weekly Topics

Week Topic
Week One Introduction to GIS
Week Two Coordinate Systems and Map Projections
Week Three Vector Data Model
Week Four Raster Data Model
Week Five GIS Data Acquisition
Week Six Midterm Review and Midterm Exam
Week Seven Geometric Transformation
Week Eight Spatial Data Editing
Week Nine Attribute Data Input and Management
Week Ten Data Display and Cartography
Week Eleven Data Exploration
Week Twelve Introduction to Vector Data Analysis
Week Thirteen Introduction to Raster Data Analysis
Week Fourteen Final Exam Review and Final Exam

The statements found on this page/site are for informational purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure that this information is up to date and accurate, official information can be found in the university publications.