Geographic Information Systems (Distance Learning) - PGCert/PgDip/MSc

Online Ulster University    School of Geography and Environmental Sciences

Full time September, January MSc, PGCert, PGDip PG Cert: 3-4mo, ; PG Dip: 8mo; MSc: 1 yr
Computer Science (8) Geography (17)

FindAMasters summary

The Geographic Information Systems (Distance Learning) programme offers flexible study options, allowing you to pursue a PGCert, PgDip, MSc or individual modules. With a strong focus on practical skills and hands-on experience, you'll gain a deep understanding of GIS concepts, functionality, and applications. The course covers a wide range of topics, including remote sensing, spatial databases, web-GIS, and GIS in the commercial environment. You'll have access to industry-standard software, such as ArcGIS and ERDAS Imagine, and can develop skills in programming languages like Python. Entry requirements include a minimum 2.2 honours degree in geography, environmental science, or computing, although relevant experience will also be considered.

About the course

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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.


The up-to-date fees (2023/24) can be found at the following link: Please see the university website for further information on fees for this course.

 Course Content

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Student Profiles

Marcos Moreu Badia

The first time I used a GIS was while collaborating, during my last year of a BSc in Mechanical Engineering in Spain, with an NGO in El Salvador in WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) related projects. After that experience I decided to improve my skills in GIS and the MSc offered by Ulster University was the best option I found in the UK for studying online and part-time while working in the hospitality sector. I completed the PgDip between 2013 and 2015, and the MSc in 2018. It’s been an extremely valuable learning experience of which I would like to highlight and thank for the flexibility and support provided. Completing the PgDip at UU gave me the opportunity to find a job as a GIS technician in a UK based Geospatial company and later on in an international organisation working on Disaster Management related projects in East Africa. After the two above mentioned working experiences I enrolled to the MSc Project module, of which I would like to highlight the freedom and the encouragement received when developing the project proposal, both in terms of topics and tools. Completing the MSc Project has been key to gain a scholarship for a PhD project in Geography.

Lucy Arnold

I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences in 1989 and started a career in conservation and ecology working for a variety of environmental organisations and ecology based charities. After moving to Ireland and setting up my own environmental consultancy, I decided I wanted to take a slightly different route and to further develop my GIS skills. I enrolled on the MSc GIS Distance Learning course at the University of Ulster so I could continue working whilst studying and achieved a Pass with Distinction in 2006, as well as winning the Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland “Award for Outstanding Contribution to GIS” for my Masters dissertation. I continue to work in the ecological sphere, now as Head of GIS and Data Management for Nevis Environmental; an environmental consultancy based in Scotland with ecological expertise in both land-based and marine projects. My work is varied, which I love, and involves everything from building and maintaining our database, to providing training on GIS software, as well as undertaking GIS analyses for the ecologists in the organisation. My main role is to progress the business forward strategically regarding GIS and data management. This means that I am involved in the innovation, research and development side of things; finding solutions and looking at ways to commercialise them for our business. The Masters course at the University of Ulster course gave me an invaluable foundation on which I have built my career in GIS. The flexibility of the distance learning really worked for me; I could fit my studies around when I needed to work. I never felt as though I was missing out not being on campus, I had access to a vast library of information, and the discussion forum helped me stay in contact with other people. All the course materials were detailed and of high quality, and the feedback and support I got from staff was always clear and useful. The whole course structure and content really worked for me and I achieved a better result than I thought I was capable of!

Natalie Cozzolino

Before the GIS PGDip I had tried to find a job in the environmental sector using my BSc Geography and also an MSc Ecotourism, but was unsuccessful, and it was at this point that I decided I needed to develop a specialised focus. I decided to concentrate on GIS and am very happy with my decision to do so. I found the course to be interesting, stimulating and challenging, and I enjoyed leaning the theory and participating in practical work. One of the more attractive elements of this course was that it catered for people from a wide variety of backgrounds. I don’t come from an IT background, but I didn’t find that it held me back at all. After graduating from the GIS PGDip I decided to continue to the MSc and wrote a thesis looking at the use of GIS in modelling woodland expansion. Whilst undertaking this project I began to look for jobs, and was overwhelmed by how easily I was getting interview invitations. Previously I hadn’t been successful in obtaining any invites to interview, but now with a PGDip in GIS, I was invited to three interviews within the space of a month, and was successfully appointed the position of GIS Analyst at SSE renewables. My experience of the PGDip/MSc GIS at the University of Ulster has been an excellent one and I cannot recommend choosing this course highly enough. I feel it has equipped me with the skills to now go on and develop a career in GIS.

Hadi Alsawad

Before taking the GIS Masters (by Distance Learning), I was employed as a cartographer in the Advisory Unit of Land Affairs Department, Saudi Aramco (Saudi's national oil company). I was promoted immediately after the course to a senior GIS analyst position, and I am currently the acting supervisor of the Advisory Unit in Saudi Aramco. The flexibility of the course allowed me not only to keep my job, but also to become a senior GIS analyst in my unit. Subsequently, top management nominated me for a scholarship to do a part-time MBA from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Katie McFarland

I graduated with a first class honours degree in Geography, and continued my postgraduate studies at UU, completing an MSc in GIS. During my MSc I gained valuable work experience through a 6 week placement in Land and Property Services. I also became involved working on a Fuel Poverty project run by the University of Ulster in conjunction with the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). I switched to taking the MSc on a part time basis which allowed me time to work on this project and also complete my dissertation, which was related to the project. I have since worked on several different GIS projects in Northern Ireland Water and Northern Ireland Housing Executive. I am currently working as a GIS Consultant with ESRI Ireland.

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