Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Course Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Instructor Dr. Steffen Vogt (in WS 15/16)
Prerequisites Introductory Module: Thought and Research in the Area of Earth and Environmental Sciences
or
Introductory Module: Thought and Reserach in the Area of Governance
Corresponding Module Analytical Methods, Specialization Option EES I or II;

(Specialization Option: Law, Politics & Administration;
Quantitative and Qualitative Methods (Governance); Specialization Option: History)

Managing and interpreting spatial information using Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) refer to the collection, analysis, storage and display of data which have a spatial reference to the Earth. Geographic Information Systems have broad applications in natural and social sciences, humanities, environmental studies, engineering, and management. Examples include wildlife habitat studies, urban and regional planning, agriculture and forestry, environmental impact assessment, crime prevention, consumer and competitor analysis, and many more. Integrated into web applications, GIS is also used increasingly to display, structure and communicate information and data to the general public (e.g. FreiGIS http://www.freiburg.de/pb/,Lde/432515.html).

This course introduces the concepts and components of a GIS and teaches some essential skills of operating a functional GIS through the use of the ArcGIS software package. After providing the basic operational skills, the course will deal with selected cases of GIS application in different disciplines.

By completing this course, students will understand the characteristics of spatial data, operational processes of creating and editing spatial data, integration of available spatial data and the relevance of metadata, spatial query and display, and some simple spatial analysis and modeling techniques.

In a self-dependent study project during Block I and II after the intensive course students will practice the interpretation of spatial information. “Though GIS is excellent at finding patterns and apparent relationships, the human brain is also a key element in the final product which, as so often, takes the form of words” (Gregory et al. 2009, Environmental Sciences).

The course starts with a 3 ECTS intensive course, followed by a 3 ECTS independent study project. The course is intended as a major module but only successful students (as selected after the intensive course) with a good project plan can go on for the full 6 ECTS in the Major Module or Electives section. Otherwise students receive 3 ECTS for their Electives section provided that  all course work has been accomplished.

This course is highly recommended for students who intend to specialize or master in disciplines of the above-mentioned fields, especially Earth & Environmental Sciences – and Governance students.

Students should feel comfortable with or have a high interest in operating computer software.

 

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