Introduction to Geospatial Data Visualization

Course Description: 

Rapidly growing cross-disciplinary recognition and availability made Geospatial Methods in general, and Mapping, in particular, a popular approach in many research areas. Till recently, maps development had been a prerogative of cartographers and, later, experts in specialized mapping packages. Latest advances in hardware and software have opened this area to researchers in other disciplines and allowed them to enhance traditional research methods. The wide spectrum of such technologies and approaches is often referred as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and includes, among others, mapping packages, geospatial analysis, crowdsourcing with mobile technologies, drones, online interactive data publishing. The geospatial literacy is becoming not an optional advantage for researchers and policy officers, but a basic requirement for many employers.

The aim of the course is to develop basic understanding of spatially referenced data use and to explore potential applications of GIS in various research areas. The sessions provide both theoretical understanding and practical use of geospatial data and technologies for mapping societal and environmental phenomena. Students will learn basic features of GIS packages and the ways to utilize them for own research.

Learning Outcomes: 

The course is focused on practical skills in geospatial data visualization (mapping) and consists of

  • Theoretical sessions on principles of geospatial data visualization, cartography and GIS basics;
  • Practicals on learning GIS methods and getting mapping skills using free open source packages;
  • Supervised and independent students’ work on individual course projects.

By the end of the course students should be able to

  • understand principles of data mapping and benefits of using different packages;
  • acquire geospatial and other related datasets useful for mapping;
  • develop own datasets based on different data sources;
  • create simple maps using several mapping packages and online mapping tools (e.g. qGIS and GEPro).

The course enrollment is only for grade, what is based upon student’s performance through:

  • 10% class participation: active participation in class discussions is expected and encouraged;
  • 20% practical sessions: several in-class exercises to be completed;
  • 70% graded individual project: mapping project to be developed and presented at the final conference.

A topic for course mapping project can be selected from the list provided or suggested by students. It can be relevant to thesis research or other courses. The developed projects are to be presented through the open conference at the end of the course.