Skip to navigation Skip to content

Overview

In this section

Established course with strong focus on employable and professional skills.

Summary

Study Geographic Information Systems at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

This course is designed to provide a broad-based education in the principles and practice of GIS. Core modules cover issues such as the representation, acquisition, management and manipulation of spatial data; spatial analysis and modelling; remote sensing; GIS in the commercial environment; spatial databases and web-based programming. Concepts and techniques are illustrated using a variety of applications.

Sign up for course updates

Sign up to receive regular updates, news and information on courses, events and developments at Ulster University.

We’ll not share your information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

About this course

In this section

About

  • Study to PgCert, PgDip or MSc level
  • Modules may be taken in 'standalone' mode
  • Available both on-campus and by fully online distance learning
  • Can be taken part-time or full-time
  • Flexibility to transfer between full-time and part-time, on-campus and distance learning
  • Strong focus on employable and professional skills
  • Extensive hands-on practice with key software
  • Entirely assessed by coursework - no formal examinations
  • Established course (15 years +) with excellent reputation and feedback

Graduates of the course are expected to have a broad overview of the field of GIS, to have extensive practical experience of GIS and related software and hardware, and be able to operate at a professional level in GIS employment.

PgDip modules cover issues such as the representation, acquisition, management and manipulation of spatial data, spatial analysis and modelling, remote sensing, GIS in the commercial environment, databases and web programming. Concepts and techniques are illustrated using a variety of applications. Students can take one optional module from a choice of GIS work experience / work-based project, GIS for environmental management, and customising GIS. Students may also opt for an environmental strand of the course.

In addition to acquiring substantial theoretical knowledge of the subject, students gain extensive practical experience using a variety of software, focusing primarily on ArcGIS but also including ERDAS Imagine, PostgreSQL, PostGIS, MySQL, OpenLayers, Geoserver, QGIS, Excel, SPSS and a number of GIS extensions and plug-ins. One of the core modules gives students experience of web-based programming languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, while an optional module in customising GIS applications introduces them to Esri ModelBuilder and the Python programming language.

Students resident in the UK and Ireland receive a free copy of ArcGIS (inexpensive student copies are available for students resident elsewhere). The remote sensing package ERDAS Imagine, and the data analysis package SPSS are provided free of charge to all students.

Those successfully completing the Masters element of the course will also have demonstrated their ability to undertake and present a piece of independent research at an advanced level.

Attendance

Fully on-line, part-time by distance learning. You do not need to visit Ulster at any stage to successfully complete this course.

The PgCert takes 8 months part-time
The PgDip takes 2 academic years part-time
The MSc takes 3 academic years part-time

As a distance learning student, you may chose your own hours of study each week but all part-time students should expect to dedicate an average of 17-20 hours to the course per week.

Start dates

  • September 2016
  • January 2017
How to apply

Modules

Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Principles of GIS

Year: 1

This module introduces the theory and practice of Geographic Information Systems, and is intended to provide an understanding of the breadth of potential GIS applications and to equip students with key concepts and skills relating to the input, management, manipulation, analysis and output of spatial data. Lecture-based teaching of key concepts is reinforced by linked practical exercises which allow students to develop competence in ESRI?s ArcGIS package. The module assumes no prior knowledge or experience of GIS.

Spatial Data Management

Year: 1

This module builds on the knowledge and practical skills gained in EGM711 to provide students with further experience in the acquisition, manipulation and analysis of spatial data. Methods for generating and collecting digital spatial data from primary and secondary sources are considered, and data processing, selection, integration and analysis extensively practiced. Lecture and practical sessions include digitising, geo-registration, GPS, accessing and using secondary sources, spatial join and overlay, network analysis and 3D modelling, and incorporate experience of a variety of large and small scale vector and raster datasets. The module also incorporates practice in statistical analysis and interpretation. Development of GIS software skills focuses on ArcGIS and extensions.

GIS in Business and Society

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module introduces GIS-relevant management and decision making concepts in business and society. The module investigates the various decision-making capabilities of GIS, within management and spatial data analysis. Planning, design, error handling, decision support techniques and advanced spatial analysis are examined within the overall implementation of GIS projects, using lecture material, tutorial discussion and group work to enable students to gain an understanding of the potential value of GIS across a broad range of application areas. The module assumes no prior knowledge or experience of GIS.

Web-based GIS

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module examines the role of programming within the GI industry. It aims to enable students to appreciate the need for programming skills that can be used to customise and develop applications. The module is interactive and discussions about a range of programming issues are incorporated within the lectures. A range of programming skills is introduced which equip the student with knowledge of the potential and scope of programming within various applications.

Biodiversity Management

Year: 1

This module is optional

Biodiversity managers make decisions based on understanding ecosystems and by applying ecological principles to achieve their objectives. This module covers key scientific topics, which are crucial for developing effective biodiversity management plans in different ecosystems. It exemplifies how ecological-social-economic factors interact to influence our ability to conserve and manage biodiversity.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module introduces the concepts and requirements of environmental impact assessment, the methodology of planning and carrying out an environmental audit and the use of environmental management systems.

Year two

Remote Sensing

Year: 2

This postgraduate module offers students the opportunity to study the principles and applications of remote sensing and image analysis and to explore links between remote sensing and GIS. Students are expected to become familiar with theoretical foundations and are allowed to demonstrate technical principles through a series of software-based practical exercises using ERDAS Imagine 2013.

GIS Databases

Year: 2

This compulsory module examines the role of databases within the GI industry. It aims to enable students to appreciate the need for database skills that are used in GIS applications. The module is interactive and discussions about a range of spatial issues are incorporated within the lectures. A range of database skills are introduced which equip the student with knowledge of the potential and scope of databases within various applications. Students will be introduced to a range of open source DBMS and GIS software including MySQL, PostgreSQL, PostGIS and Quantum GIS.

Spatial Analysis

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module builds on the introductory material of EGM711 and EGM712, covering key concepts of spatial data analysis and modelling, and providing extensive practical experience of ESDA and spatial modelling within a GIS environment.

GIS for Environmental Management

Year: 2

This module is optional

This optional module examines the application of GIS to environmental management, modelling and impact assessment. It aims to enable students to appreciate the need for properly researched information to support strategic and operational environmental management decisions, and to be aware of the means by which such information can be obtained and evaluated.

Customising GIS Applications

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module develops programming skills using specialised programming languages such as Python and automating work flows using ESRI ModelBuilder. The module seeks to provide students with key skills in the development of more advanced GIS applications. The module aims to develop academic writing skills and programming skills.

GIS Work Experience

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module consists of a GI-related work experience placement designed to allow students the opportunity to contextualize their classroom-based learning in a professional environment relevant to a career in GI-related fields and to enhance their employability through work-based learning.

GIS Workplace Project

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module consists of a project undertaken by students in GI-related employment, in which they undertake a systematic analysis of current GIS implementation within their workplace and devise and evaluate potential additional applications. The module allows students who have professional experience the opportunity to contextualise their classroom-based learning in a professional environment relevant to careers in GI-related fields.

Year three

Geographic information systems project

Year: 3

This module provides students with the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of research in an area of particular interest to the student. The student will be assessed on their project plan and two progress reports, together with a research paper.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

Entry Requirements

Applicants are generally expected to have a minimum 2.2 honours degree with a substantial component of geography, environmental science or computing.

Applicants with qualifications in other relevant disciplines or with academic qualifications below 2.2 honours will also be considered on individual merit. In such cases, previous experience of GIS and competence in day-to-day computing will be an advantage, and should be explained in detail on the application form.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Teaching and learning assessment

Assessment is 100% by course work (no sessional examinations); a mixture of methods including practical reports, problem analysis, projects, literature reviews and essays, class tests, group work and a research project.

Students are able to use the University's extensive online resources of electronic journals, books and databases.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

Successful students develop a range of skills in the management, processing, analysis, interpretation and presentation of geo-spatial data, as well as skills in project management, report writing and problem solving.

Graduates of the course have secured employment in a variety of roles in Ireland, the UK, Europe and further afield (including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Middle East), in GIS positions including technicians and analysts, development and sales, lecturing and research, within organisations such as mapping agencies and GIS companies, environmental consultancies, resource management and environmental agencies, planning, health services, housing authorities, local government, rural development, utilities and infrastructure, education, mining and retail analysis. Knowledge and understanding of geo-spatial data is also increasingly required in a variety of jobs outside of the GI profession, making a GIS qualification a valuable asset enhancing employability in a range of fields.

Apply

You can apply online here.

How to apply

Start dates

  • September 2016
  • January 2017

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (total cost)

Northern Ireland & EU:
£5,150.00
International:
£12,890.00

Additional mandatory costs

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel and normal living are a part of university life. 

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them in the online prospectus. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course. 

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees. 

Please contact the course team for more information.

Contact

Course Director: Dr Sally Cook
T: +44 (0) 28 7012 4401
E: s.cook@ulster.ac.uk

For admissions enquiries contact the Faculty Office:

T: +44 (0) 28 7012 4159

E: flhsce@ulster.ac.uk