Taught course

Geographical Information Systems

University of Portsmouth · Department of Geography

Entry requirements

A 2:2 honours degree or equivalent in Geography or a related subject. Professional experience in a relevant area and other qualifications may be taken into consideration for applicants not meeting this requirement.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Months of entry


Course content

Why take this course?

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) has grown rapidly to become a major component of information technology, creating distinctive methods of data analysis, algorithms and software tools.

This course emphasises the acquisition of practical GIS skills. We use a wide range of industry-standard software tools and a structured approach to the analysis of spatial data through project work.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Get hands-on experience of using instruments such as GPS, Total Stations and 3D laser scanners
  • Be taught by experts, who have extensive industrial and consultancy experience and strong research portfolios
  • Practise your GIS data collection skills in a range of environments

What opportunities might it lead to?

The wide range of career opportunities across public and private sectors and in university-based research, coupled with the rapid rate of technological change, mean that major organisations and industrial firms are finding it essential to update their skills through advanced study. We therefore aim to meet this demand by tailoring our course to the needs of both regional and national markets.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • environmental consultancies
  • geographical information science specialists
  • working for the Environmental Agency
  • working for the Ordnance Survey

Module Details

You can opt to take this course in full-time or part-time mode. The programme consists of four core
units and one option.

The core units are:

  • Principles of Geographic Information Science: You will be introduced to the fundamental principles of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), its data models and modelling capabilities.
  • GIS and Database Management Systems: The major focus on this unit is the use of industry-standard methods and tools to develop competence in the successive stages of database design, development and implementation. The unit also explores recent developments in GIS, concentrating on emerging technologies and trends in the GI world.
  • Image Processing and Spatial Data Analysis: This unit focuses on the use of image processing and spatial analysis techniques to manage, manipulate and analyse spatial data. You will also undertake analysis of routine sources of spatially referenced data from secondary sources (e.g. government surveys and the UK Census) using statistical software packages.
  • Dissertation: This provides you with an opportunity to study a topic of your choice related to GIS in the form of a research paper targeted at a particular journal. This unit will introduce you to the basic principles of research design and methods.

Optional units (you take one only):

  • Applied Geographic Information Systems: This unit examines GIS in the workplace by visiting various organisations in the local area including Ordnance Survey, Office for National Statistics and the Royal School of Military Survey. Field work is also used to provide you with experience of using land surveying equipment and techniques.
  • Coastal and Marine Resource Management: You will examine the theory, concepts and frameworks of coastal and marine management, and use topical issues as examples of practical application.
  • Hazard Modelling and Risk Assessment: This unit is designed to provide an advanced understanding of hazard and risk assessment techniques using spatial analysis tools, simulation and software development, qualitative and quantitative methods and their application to the identification, delineation and assessment of different types of geological and environmental hazard processes.

Programme Assessment

The course provides a balanced structure of lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. You will learn through hands-on practical sessions designed to give you the skills in laboratory, computer and field techniques. The course also includes extensive field work designed to provide field mapping and data collection skills.

The majority of assessment takes the form of practical exercises and project-based activity. This enables you to become familiar with industry-standard software systems and develop your skills by applying your newfound expertise in areas that particularly interest you.

Student Destinations

GIS technology is now very widely deployed in many organisations ranging from utility companies, telecommunications networks, civil engineering, retailing, local and national government, international charities and NGOs, the National Health Service, environmental organisations, banking and finance, and insurance. GIS has become an essential part of the world's information infrastructure.

You can expect to go on to find work in organisations such as local authorities, health authorities, conservation organisations, banks and insurance companies, amongst others. Many of our previous graduates are now employed all over the world, working on a whole variety of GIS-related projects in a very wide range of different organisations and industries.

Fees and funding

UK students
Full time: £6,500 Part time: £2,170 p/a* *Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.
International students
Full time: £13,200 Part time: £4,400 p/a* *Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
36 months

Course contact details

Admissions Team
023 9284 5566