Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Humanities & Social Sciences
Geography and the Environment
Course Code
GEOG 2270
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered


Course Description
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a set of powerful computerized tools designed to store, retrieve, analyze and display geographically referenced information. GIS are used to explore complex geographic relationships and discover patterns that were previously undetectable through conventional methods. GIS analysis has become important in many industries and provides students with employable skills in several fields of study. This hands-on course examines the components and functions of GIS, the characteristics of spatial data, and spatial analysis and display. Students will be introduced to GIS theory which will be reinforced with hands-on lab exercises.
Course Content
  1. Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
    • How GIS is Affecting Our Lives
    • What is a GIS?
    • Introduction to ArcGIS software
  2. GIS and Cartography
    • Map and Attribute Information
    • Map Scale and Projections
    • Coordinate Systems
    • Geographic Information
  3. Characteristics Of Spatial Data
    • Vector Data and Raster Data
    • Remotely Sensed Imagery
    • Geodata Accuracy and Precision
    • Error and Uncertainty in GIS
  4. Acquiring Spatial Data in situ
  • Global Positioning Systems
  • Land Surveying
  • Census and Sampling
  • Introduction to Remote Sensing
    • Satellite Characteristics
    • Electromagnetic Radiation
    • Active vs. Passive Sensors
    • Spatial, Temporal and Spectral Resolution
  • Analog-to-Digital Map Conversion
    • Finding Existing Map Data
    • Digitizing and Scanning
    • Data Conversion
  • Database Management
    • Database Structure
    • Spatial Databases
    • Searching by Attribute
    • Searching by Geography
    • Basic Queries
  • Spatial Analysis 
    • Describing Attributes
    • Statistical Analysis
    • Spatial Description
    • Spatial Analysis
  • GIS output
    • Elements of a Map
    • Choosing a Map Type
    • Designing the Map
    • Reports, graphs and tables

    Methods Of Instruction

    The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:

    • Lecture
    • Labs
    • Multimedia
    • Individual and/or Team Projects
    • Small Group Discussions


    Means of Assessment

    Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific criteria during the first week of classes.

    An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

    Labs 25%
    Quizzes 20%
    Midterm Exam 25%
    Final Exam 30%
    Total 100%
    Learning Outcomes

    At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

    1. Describe the components and uses of an effective GIS.
    2. Describe the characteristics of spatial data and explain how projection, coordinate and datum systems impact GIS precision and accuracy.
    3. Use the components of a GIS to input data, create topology, analyze data and produce maps to communicate the results of the analyses.
    4. Employ critical thinking skills to evaluate data, analytical methods and results.
    5. Compare and contrast file and database management systems.
    6. Analyze the issues associated with the implementation, operationalization and management of GIS.
    7. Explain the issues of data acquisition, data quality and data conversion/integration.
    Textbook Materials

    Texts will be updated periodically. Typical examples are:

    • Heywood, I., Cornelius, S. and Carver, S. (2011). An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems, 4th edition. Pearson/Prentice Hall.
    • Law, M. and Collins, A.  (2013)  Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop.  Esri Press.
    • Chang, K. (2014). Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, 7th edition. McGraw-Hill.
    • Jensen, J.R. and Jensen R.R. (2013) Introductory Geographic Information Systems. Pearson.




    One 1100-Level Geography Course or EAES (GEOL) 1120 or permission of the instructor


    No corequisite courses.


    No equivalent courses.

    Requisite for

    This course is not required for any other course.

    Course Guidelines

    Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

    Course Transfers

    Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
    Camosun College (CAMO) CAMO ENVR 140 (3) 2013/01/01 to -
    Langara College (LANG) LANG GEOG 2XXX (3) 2011/01/01 to -
    Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU GEOG 255 (3) 2004/09/01 to -
    Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU GEOG 275 (3) 2004/09/01 to 2010/08/31
    Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU GEOG 2750 (3) 2010/09/01 to -
    University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO GEOG 2nd (3) 2011/01/01 to -
    University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO GEOG 370 (3) 2005/05/01 to 2010/12/31
    University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV GEOB 2nd (3) 2004/09/01 to 2004/12/31
    University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV GEOB 270 (3) 2005/01/01 to -
    University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC GEOG 300 (3) 2004/09/01 to -
    University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV GEOG 253 (3) 2004/09/01 to -
    University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC GEOG 222 (1.5) 2011/01/01 to -
    University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC GEOG 228 (1.5) 2004/09/01 to 2010/12/31

    Course Offerings

    Summer 2021

    There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.