Principles of Geographic Information Systems

The UNSW Principles of Geographic Information Systems and Science (GEOS9016) course introduces the basic structures, procedures and application of geographic information systems (GIS). These systems capture, store, check and display geospatial data related to positions on the Earth’s surface. Through this course, you’ll gain practical experience in the analytical treatment of geographical information, including information sources and data storage, representation and visualisation.

Approximately 80% of all data collected has associated geographic attributes. These attributes may relate to data from streets, buildings and even vegetation and water. GIS allows people to visualise, analyse and find patterns in each GIS data source, and also interpret how they fit together. There’s an increasing need for people with skills in GIS technology to manipulate and make sense of different data layers.

During this course, you’ll have the opportunity to learn different techniques to analyse spatial data, generate new information and disseminate data through digital platforms.


Course Breakdown

GIS are technical in nature, and therefore, this course offers a software training session to get you up to speed on the principles of GIS applications and software. To supplement course content, our lecturers will provide you with online references and tutorials. This will allow you to enhance your learning delve further into the field of GIS and its applications.

The Principles of Geographic Information Systems course aims to provide you with the principles of how to manage GIS and science in the real world. Practical applications of GIS will help you gain a better understanding of current issues (e.g. environmental pollution, land use planning, health risks, bushfires) and inform your decision-making on data input and management strategies.

Course learning outcomes include:

  • Create and edit maps using specialised software such as ArcGIS
  • Create models for geographic information systems analysis using specialised software such as Arc GIS, and apply these to project applications
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different data models, data structures and types, and map projections
  • Understand and apply basic spatial analysis techniques, including topographic analysis and remote sensing
  • Evaluate the main spatial information sources and data storage options for mapping data


Career Opportunities

Roles in the Information Technology (IT) industry span across fields such as GIS, Information Systems, Cybersecurity, Data Science and Software Engineering to name a few. From startups to established companies, the career options in IT are many and varied.

Today, companies are using GIS technology to track local and global events and phenomena. For example, during the Australian bushfire crisis, areas of high thermal activity were recorded using the MODIS later from ArcGIS Living Atlas. Sensors on NASA’s Earth Observing System satellites were used to track and visualise fire outbreaks in real-time. Even more recently, the John Hopkins Institute used GIS to track the global cases of Coronavirus COVID-19. This tracker was used by all nations across the world to keep informed on the spread of the virus.

At UNSW Science, you can further your studies and specialise in GIS through the Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours)/Computer Science.

Relevant Roles

Employers in government agencies and the private sector value mapping and spatial analysis skills. Learning with GIS gives graduates of science, engineering, computing and businesses a competitive edge in many fields. 

  • Software Engineer
  • Game Developer
  • Business Systems Analyst
  • Computer Programmer
  • Computer Scientist
  • Entrepreneur
  • Project Manager
  • Data Scientist

Learn more


What Our Graduates Say

“I learned and practiced many areas, not only for GIS software, but also for the whole process of data visualisation and data processing.”

- Chenyi Cao, Principles of Geographic Information Systems graduate.