Taught course

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Coleraine Campus OR Distance Learning

Ulster University · School of Environmental Sciences

Entry requirements

Applicants are generally expected to have a minimum 2.2 honours degree with a substantial component of geography, environmental science or computing.

Applicants with qualifications in other relevant disciplines or with academic qualifications below 2.2 honours will also be considered on individual merit. In such cases, previous experience of GIS and competence in day-to-day computing will be an advantage, and should be explained in detail on the application form.

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

With over 20 years’ experience in teaching GIS, and nearly 15 years of teaching via online distance learning, we have a significant track record in GIS education. The course is designed to provide a broad-based education in the principles and practice of GIS, leading to the award of Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Master of Science. Course content includes the representation, acquisition, management, manipulation and analysis of spatial data, remote sensing, spatial databases, web-GIS and GIS in the commercial environment. Optional modules including GIS work experience, spatial analysis and modelling, GIS for environmental management, and Customising GIS are also available. Students gain extensive practical experience using a variety of software, including ArcGIS, ERDAS Imagine, Excel, IBM-SPSS and a number of GIS extensions, plug-ins and open source applications.

  • Study by fully online distance learning to PgCert, PgDip or MSc level
  • Modules may be taken in 'standalone' mode
  • Course can be taken part-time or full-time
  • Strong focus on employable and professional skills
  • Extensive hands-on practice with key software
  • Entirely assessed by coursework - no formal examinations
  • Established course with excellent reputation and feedback

In recent years the benefits of using geo-spatial data have become more widely understood within both government and business. In parallel, the need for GIS professionals has grown steadily across a wide range of sectors. Moreover, gaining GIS knowledge and skills is increasingly seen as an essential part of preparing for other types of employment, for example in the environmental sector.

Our students fall into two broad groups: (1) people who want to enter GIS-related employment for the first time, or who want to add GIS to their skill-set to enhance their employability (often new or recent graduates, but also including people wanting to change career); (2) people already in GI-related employment who want to broaden and deepen their GIS knowledge and skills with a view to making better use of GIS or improving career and promotion prospects. Student feedback shows that our course caters very well to the needs of both groups.

In addition to acquiring substantial theoretical knowledge of the subject, students gain extensive practical experience using a variety of software, focusing primarily on ArcGIS but also including ERDAS Imagine, PostgreSQL, PostGIS, MySQL, OpenLayers, Geoserver, QGIS, Excel, SPSS and a number of GIS extensions and plug-ins. One of the core modules provides experience of web-based programming languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, while an optional module in customising GIS applications introduces Esri ModelBuilder and the Python programming language. After completing the PgDip modules, students may transfer to the Masters, which entails a substantial independent research project.

All students are provided with a free copy of ArcGIS, the remote sensing package ERDAS Imagine, and the data analysis package SPSS.

Information for international students

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Qualification and course duration


full time
3-4 months
part time
8 months


full time
8 months
part time
20 months


part time
30 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Dr Sally Cook
+44 (0) 28 7012 4159