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Course content

Why Study with Us?

  • Join an established course with excellent reputation and feedback.
  • Get support and advice from experienced lecturers, tutors, librarians, e-learning and IT staff.
  • Access a wide range of online resources such as e-books, digital lectures and podcasts, discussion boards and video-conference tools all within a dedicated e-learning platform.
  • Develop and improve your employability, professional and academic skills and gain extensive hands-on practice with key software.
  • Obtain free student copies of GIS, remote sensing and statistical software.
  • Be assessed entirely by coursework – there are no formal examinations.
  • Pay your fees by instalments.
  • With a fully online course, you can study from almost anywhere and there is no need to travel to classes.
  • You can enrol to study part-time or full-time and choose the times you study each week to suit yourself.
  • Substantial relevant work experience may be accepted in place of standard entry requirements.
  • Study for a Master’s degree, a PG Diploma, PG Certificate or enrol for individual modules.

Why Study GIS?

The benefits of GIS are increasingly recognised within government, business, education and the voluntary sector, and the applications of geospatial data technologies are steadily growing. Using GIS, it is possible to combine data from a broad range of sources and in a variety of formats, such as paper and digital maps, routinely collected administrative data, censuses and population surveys, satellite imagery, aerial photography, GPS tracking and surveys, LiDAR and crowd-sourcing. The uses of GIS are very diverse, and include mapping, spatial analysis, planning and decision-making within a wide range of disciplines and sectors – common examples include environmental management and conservation, resource management, emergency service planning and humanitarian assistance, health care provision, land use planning and urban development, the utilities, transport, geo-demographics, mineral extraction and retail analysis. Increasing uptake of GIS and associated techniques and technologies means that there is a growing demand for qualified personnel who have the skills to manage spatial data effectively. Strong industry links help ensure that our course is relevant to the needs of employers.

Course Summary

The course is designed to help people gain understanding and experience of GIS concepts, functionality and applications. Content focuses on the representation, acquisition, management, manipulation and analysis of spatial data. It also includes modules on remote sensing, spatial databases, web-GIS and GIS in the commercial environment. Additional optional modules include GIS work experience, spatial analysis and modelling, GIS for environmental management, and Customising GIS.

In addition to acquiring substantial theoretical knowledge of the subject, you will gain extensive practical experience using a variety of software, focusing primarily on ArcGIS but also including ERDAS Imagine, PostgreSQL, PostGIS, MySQL, OpenLayers, Geoserver, QGIS, Excel, SPSS and a number of GIS extensions and plug-ins. One of the core modules provides experience of web-based programming languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, whilst an optional module in customising GIS applications introduces Esri’s ModelBuilder and the Python programming language.

After successfully completing the PgDip modules, you may transfer to the Masters part of the programme. This requires the completion of a substantial independent research project, written in the form of a research journal article (which may, with agreement of your supervisor, be submitted for publication).

As part of the course resources, you will be provided with a free copy of ArcGIS, the remote sensing package ERDAS Imagine, and the data analysis package SPSS.

Work placement / study abroad

Gaining experience in the workplace and being able to apply academic learning within that context is very beneficial for students preparing to enter the workplace, so we offer the option of undertaking a GIS Work Experience module to full-time students. This entails working within an organisation for 2.5 days per week over a six-week period. Placements (which are unpaid) may be in the public sector, private companies, charities or education. Students who take this module find it extremely helpful for both their professional and personal development and refer particularly to benefits such as broadening their technical skills, gaining experience of team-working and of independent problem-solving, improved confidence and of learning about the geospatial industry and employment through exposure to real-world applications of GIS.

Part-time students who are in GI-related employment may opt to undertake the GIS Workplace Project.

Career options

GIS and geospatial technologies underpin a rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar industry, and are becoming increasingly mainstream within both the public and private sectors, resulting in a need for graduates who have a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Graduates of this course have secured employment in a variety of GIS-related roles worldwide, in GIS positions including technicians, analysts, scientists, surveyors, data specialists, mapping officers, consultants, project managers, development, sales and marketing, customer support, GIS training, lecturing and research (including funded PhD projects). The breadth of potential uses of GIS ensures a great diversity of job opportunities; for example, our graduates have found employment with mapping agencies, GIS and SatNav companies, environmental consultancies, ecological and marine resource management and environmental agencies, renewable energy companies, forestry, fisheries, town planning departments, heritage agencies, health and emergency services, housing authorities, local government, aid agencies, countryside recreation, rural development, retail analysis, utilities and infrastructure, Further and Higher Education, mining and mineral exploitation and the oil industry, among others. Knowledge and understanding of geo-spatial data is also increasingly required in a variety of jobs outside of the GI profession, making a GIS qualification a valuable asset enhancing employability in a range of fields.


Visit the Geographic Information Systems - PGCert/PgDip/MSc page on the Ulster University website for more details!

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