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Get an introduction to the theory and practice of Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Build your skills in a range of geospatial tools and techniques. Learn the basics of digital mapping and geovisualisation. Discover the art and science of designing and creating maps and other visualisations of spatial data.

You’ll find out how to collect, manage and edit your own spatial data with this online course you can study in your spare time.

This online short course is part of our online MSc in Geographical Information Systems. You can use the credits you earn on this course towards this Masters qualification.

What will I study?

You’ll train in a range of fundamental geospatial tools and techniques.

This includes navigation, measurement, spatial queries, geocoding, scripting, buffering, digitising, and overlay analysis.

You’ll explore ‘real world’ examples as you learn to apply tools for data exploration, data capture, simple spatial analysis, mapping and visualization.

You’ll also learn to select the correct approach to a problem, analyse data, and interpret the results.

You’ll cover the following topics:

  • Geospatial data sources, data formats, and databases
  • Introduction to GIS, including ArcGIS and QGIS
  • Geospatial data analysis
  • Introduction to cartography, digital mapping, and geovisualisation
  • Designing and creating a map
  • Mobile GIS and apps
  • Visual communication

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to…

  • Collect your own spatial data.
  • Input spatial data into a GIS.
  • Store spatial data in a database.
  • Edit spatial data.
  • Use geospatial analysis tools and techniques.
  • Map and visualise spatial data and the results of geospatial analysis.

How will I study?

This course is delivered part-time, 100% online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • online lectures and tutorials
  • videos and slide shows
  • audio clips
  • projects
  • reading materials
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • discussion boards with colleagues and tutors.

Your tutors

You’ll learn from internationally experienced geoscientists and academics from our School of Geosciences. Your course content is also continually reviewed by an industry advisory board. This ensures your learning is always current and aligned to the needs of industry.


This course is assessed entirely online. There are no exams.

You’ll be assessed via your coursework:

  • a GIS mapping project, to map the University of Aberdeen Botanic Gardens using aerial photographs and GIS (worth 75% of your grade)
  • a mobile app data collection, mapping, and tutorial writing exercise (worth 25%).

Your course coordinator

Where will this take me?

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards our:

Masters in Geographical Information Systems

  • Study part-time online or full-time on campus.

Find out more about credits.


This short course will help you prepare for a career in GIS. You could work towards becoming a:

  • GIS Officer
  • GIS Technician.

You could find GIS-related roles in local or national government, environmental agencies, the commercial sector, research or academia.

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Am I ready?

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:2 (second-class) undergraduate degree
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

Start date
27 September 2021