Taught course

Geographical Information Systems and Science

Kingston University · Geography, Geology and the Environment

Entry requirements

The Geographical Information Systems and Science MSc is open to both those fresh from their undergraduate studies and those already in employment. Successful applicants will be expected to have either: - a good honours degree awarded by a British or approved overseas university.

Normally the degree level should be at second-class honours level or higher and contain one or more aspects from the GIS, Geographical, Earth, Environmental, Computer or Biological Sciences as the major field(s) of study; or for those without formal undergraduate qualifications, be able to demonstrate extensive work experience or career development in the field of GIS. All applicants will be expected to show strong ability and motivation to work at MSc level and, crucially, a commitment to the discipline of GI Science and Systems.

Please note: each application is assessed on an individual basis and may be subject to additional requirements, such as undertaking short course(s), work experience and/or English language qualification(s). Meeting particular minimum entry requirements does not automatically guarantee a place.

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

Kingston University offered the first GIS undergraduate degree in the world in 1989, followed by several MSc and PhD research degrees. Today, Kingston is considered the UK's foremost centre for GIS education and training, with one of the largest GIS programmes in Europe. This course provides a high level of competency in the principles of GI science and the use of geotechnology, as well as the skills to routinely use professional software for data acquisition, handling, exploration and mapping.

  • Kingston University is recognised within the industry as a premier provider of GIS education with our graduates having amongst the highest employment rates.
  • Fieldwork is an important part of our teaching.
  • The course covers the principles of GI science and geotechnology and the foundations of geographical information handling.
  • You will learn how to handle spatial entities for data transformations, generalisation and aggregation, and will develop competency in analytical operations, methods and spatial analyses. You will have the chance to implement principles of map design and graphical representation techniques, and will gain an understanding of spatial database systems and application design. You will also perform storage and retrieval operations, and work with alternative data models, 3D modelling and advanced visualisation.
  • The course is taught partly in distance-learning mode and partly in traditional classroom mode or entirely in distance-learning mode.

Please note that Esri ArcGIS is used in several core modules. Students outside the UK and Ireland will need to use their own licensed copy of the software. Student licences are available for most countries at £100.

Core modules

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list.

This module complements and builds on the introductory underpinnings of GIS to provide you with the knowledge, skills and critical abilities to plan and collect spatial data and then apply spatial analytical techniques to a variety of geographic problems.

Data collection is based around an streamed component – either a residential field course which acts as a laboratory for the delivery of a wide range of mobile GIS concepts, practical applications and technologies; or an introduction to remotely sensed data collection and image analysis. Data analysis focuses upon standard querying techniques, spatial statistics, surface, network and cartographic modelling, the implications of temporal effects and decision making.

This module provides basic skills in research methods and techniques, including geographical information system (GIS) for data storage, manipulation and display. It initially develops GIS skills by introducing GIS concepts, sources for geographical information and outlines basic spatial concepts. Subsequently the module encompasses the theoretical underpinnings to research methods and techniques, including sampling schemes, measurements, quality control issues, and data collection, manipulation and analysis. This together with practical elements of designing research proposals and data testing enables the necessary skills for carrying out independent research work.

This module provides experience of planning, designing and executing a sustained piece of independent research. It involves formulating a testable hypothesis; designing a programme of data collection to test it; critically evaluating and interpreting your own data in the light of current research; and summarising and reviewing in a clear and professional manner.

  • GIS for People and Environments

The module explores the application of GIS in a range of socio-demographic and environmental areas and provides practical experience of using demographic, environmental and socio-economic geospatial data sources. Application areas include, but are not limited to, area classification and geomarketing, crime hotspot mapping and geographical profiling, and disease mapping and health care resourcing, and environmental modelling. The main features of the module are a focus on student-centred project work, hands-on experience with GIS to help address 'real world' problems and a mixture of different styles of assessment.

This module is concerned with how geospatial data is modelled, managed and manipulated within database systems, and how the data stored in spatial databases can be disseminated across the Internet. The technologies that support the dissemination and visualisation of geographical data over the internet are explained and students gain practical experience of designing and implementing spatial relational databases and of developing Web mapping applications that utilise data stored within web-enabled databases. Alternative software and database development approaches will be explored, and programming culture and resources explained.

Work placement scheme

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, the work placement is covered by a student's tier 4 visa.

Information for international students

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirements. For this course it is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in Reading, Listening and Speaking. Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider: English language requirements at Kingston University

Fees and funding

Please see Geographical Information Systems & Science Masters (MSc): Fees and bursaries for further details.

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24 months
distance learning
24 - 72 months

Course contact details

08448 547683/+44 (0)20 3308 9931