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Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Course Code: GEOG 2270
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab, Partially Online
Typically Offered: Fall, Winter
course overview

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
  5. Introduction to Remote Sensing
    • Satellite Characteristics
    • Electromagnetic Radiation
    • Active vs. Passive Sensors
    • Spatial, Temporal and Spectral Resolution
  6. Analog-to-Digital Map Conversion
    • Finding Existing Map Data
    • Digitizing and Scanning
    • Data Conversion
  7. Database Management
    • Database Structure
    • Spatial Databases
    • Searching by Attribute
    • Searching by Geography
    • Basic Queries
  8. Spatial Analysis 
    • Describing Attributes
    • Statistical Analysis
    • Spatial Description
    • Spatial Analysis
  9. 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.

course prerequisites

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

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.