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BIO8069 : Geographical Information systems and Remote Sensing

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Roy Sanderson
  • Lecturer: Dr Rachel Gaulton, Dr Marion Pfeifer
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims to provide the theoretical background and practical experience necessary to understand the application of GIS and remotely sensed data in environmental assessment and management. It is an introductory module designed for students who, whilst familiar with PC usage, have had no prior experience of using GIS or remote sensed data. It introduces them to the key concepts of data acquisition and storage, errors and error propagation, and basic map manipulation techniques. The practical sessions take the form of a series of self-contained computer-based exercises, each building on skills learnt in the previous practical. Practicals will cover map manipulations, vector and raster data, and the classification and processing of spectral reflectance data acquired using both passive and active remote sensing. Students will use leading commercial and/or open-source software in their practical classes, and apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems in environmental science and wildlife management.

Outline Of Syllabus

• Geographical information systems, maps and spatial information.
• Visual presentation of spatial data: good and bad practice, and different methods to present maps
• Data types, structures, input and verification.
• Data quality: the causes and implications of errors and natural variation.
• Methods of vector and raster data analysis in GIS.
• Use of interpolation techniques in GIS
• Remote sensing: spectral reflectance data - data acquisition, data processing, data visualisation, data manipulation
• Interpretation and analysis of remotely sensed data with focus on vegetation applications
• Applications of passive and active remote sensing and GIS in biological and environmental assessment, management and modelling.
• Selection of GIS and remote sensing products for applications in biological and environmental resource assessment.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00GIS assignment (RAS)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Remote Sensing assignment (CF)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Remote Sensing assignment (MP)
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading125:0025:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00Drop-in session to help with assignments
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study180:0080:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyOnline Discussion110:0010:00Online Discussions with Demonstrators and Staff via Microsoft Teams chat facility
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:001:00Orientation session to introduce module (RAS, MP, CF)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures are designed to provide the students with the underpinning theory necessary to use GIS and Remote Sensed data correctly (irrespective of the particular type of GIS or RS software being used). The practicals equip the students with the necessary skills to use GIS and RS – whilst this will be focussed on one particular GIS program, the generic nature of the various GIS and RS operations will be emphasised, making it easier to adapt skills for a variety of different GIS and RS platforms. The informal Drop-in sessions are to provide additional support and advice whilst the students are preparing their assignments.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study2M50GIS to address ecological or wildlife management problems. Approx. 2500 words
Case study2M50Manipulation of remote sensed data; processing, classification, interpretation for addressing a conv science problem. 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Both assessments will be in the form of case studies to test the use of students’ newly-acquired skills, ensure students understand the limitations of different approaches, and can evaluate and present their findings in a form suitable for a wider audience. Assessments will test students’ abilities to present geographic data spatially (e.g. properly annotated and labelled maps), tabular summaries, plus interpretative text. Students have to pass both components

Reading Lists