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GIS (Geographic Information Science) - MSc

Course Description

The GIS (Geographical Information Science) MSc provides an education in the theoretical, scientific and practical aspects of GIS. It prepares students for technical and analytical GIS roles and is in high demand; we have very close links with industry and the majority of our students find employment prior to contemplating their degree.

Degree information

Students gain a solid grounding in the scientific principles underpinning the computational and analytical foundations of GISc. Our staff are world-leading experts in the areas of programming location-enabled Apps, spatial and 3D databases, big spatio-temporal analytics, citizen science and and human computer interaction, and the MSc therefore is able to offer a wide range of options and specialisations.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of four core modules (60 credits), four optional modules (60 credits) and a research project (60 credits). A Postgraduate Diploma, four core modules (60 credits), four optional modules (60 credits), full-time nine months is offered.

Core modules - core modules introduce the theory underpinning GIS, along with programming skills (python) and the basics of spatial analysis and statistcs. You'll learn to critically engage with GIS rather than just pushing buttons - how does the way data is captured and modelled influence the results of your analysis? Do you get the same results from two different GIS packages? Knowing what is inside the 'black box' means you understand analytical results and their limitations.
-GIS Principles and Technology
-Principles of Spatial Analysis
-Mapping Science
-Representations, Structures and Algorithms

Optional modules - term two is where you start to specialise, chosing modules that fit your interests, intended career choice and/or prepare you for your dissertation. At this point you can chose a heavilty technical route (e.g. databases, programming, human computer interaction) a more analytical route (spatio-temporal data mining, network and locational analysis, databases) or a mixture of the two routes. You will need to chose four modules in total. At least 30 credits of optional modules selected from :
-Geographical Information System Design
-Spatio-Temporal Analysis and Data Mining
-Web and Mobile GIS – Apps and Programming
-Spatial Databases and Data Management

Plus no more than 30 credits of optional modules (all term two) selected from :
-Airborne Data Acquisition
-Applied Building Information Modelling
-Network and Locational Analysis
-Image Understanding
-Ocean and Coastal Zone Management
-Research Methods
-Terrestrial Data Acquisition

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000–15,000 words. Where appropriate, this may be undertaken in conjunction with one of our many industrial partners, including Arup, Joint Research Centre, British Red Cross, Transport for London.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through lectures, practical classes, demonstrations and tutorials, and is supported by a series of external speakers from industry and visits to industrial who give weekly seminars describing how GIS is used in their field as well as what they are looking for when recruiting graduate GIS students. Assessment is through unseen examinations, group and individual coursework, formal and oral presentations, and the dissertation.


There are excellent employment prospects for our graduates, with starting salaries of around £25,000. Recent GIS graduates have found openings with large engineering design firms (such as Arup or WSP), specialist consultancy firms such as Deloitte or Informed Solutions, in leading professional software companies (such as ESRI or Google), with local authorities, for organisations such as Shell, Tesco, the Environment Agency, Transport for London, NHS and the Ordnance Survey.

Students will develop specific skills including a fundamental understanding of GIS and its application to real-world problems, through theoretical lectures covering the foundations of the science – how data is captured, map creation, generalisation, spatial data management, spatial analysis, data quality and error, and spatial algorithms. Students will develop strong technical (python, R, Java, HTML, Javascript, SQL) and analytical skills (data mining, human computer interaction and usability), and in order to fully understand the principles behind GIS will make use of multiple GIS packages, both proprietary and free/open source (ArcGIS, QGIS).

Why study this degree at UCL?

This highly regarded MSc has been running for nearly 30 years and is taught by internationally recognised academics. Our specialist GIS laboratory offers the latest open source and proprietary software and our unique dual focus on the computer science and analytical aspects of GIS means that you will be able to develop your skills in multiple directions.

Our close links with industry (a strong alumni group and weekly industrial seminars) mean that you will be able to directly link your classroom learning with your future career as a GIS professional; you can also undertake your dissertation with an industrial partner.

As well as weekly industrial seminars, you will have the option to do an industry-linked project, and you will be able to attend our annual GIS careers event, which is co-organized with the UK Assocation of Geographic Infrormation.

Visit the GIS (Geographic Information Science) - MSc page on the University College London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

Brown Family Bursary - No. of awards TBC

Selection criteria:
- The bursary will be awarded based on financial need only as determined by the Student Funding Office.Value, Benefits and Duration:
- The value of the bursary is £15,000. The payment is to be applied to tuition fees in the first instance, with any remainder being paid to the successful applicant towards maintenance in termly instalments.
- The bursary is tenable for one year only.
- The bursary may not be held alongside other tuition fee only awards.

Value of Scholarship(s)



- prospective full-time UK Master's students who are undertaking a one-year programme of study in the Faculties of the Built Environment, Engineering Sciences or Mathematical & Physical Sciences (BEAMS) in 2015/16
- currently holding a first-class Bachelor's degree; and
- in financial need.

Application Procedure

See http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships/graduate/UK-EU-Master/uclalumniandfriends

Further Information



Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) - 5 Awards

The Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme is a joint initiative between the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), and UK universities, to support scholarships for students from developing Commonwealth countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the United Kingdom.The aim of the scheme is to assist students from developing Commonwealth countries who are of excellent academic calibre but for financial reasons would not otherwise be able to afford to study in the United Kingdom. The scheme allows them to benefit from postgraduate study at a university in the United Kingdom which will help them to contribute toward the development of their home countries.Awards are for taught Master's programmes only, subjects must be related to the economic, social and technological development of a candidate's country. UCL expects to be able to allocate five awards this academic year.Applicants must:
- Be nationals of (or permanently domiciled in) a Commonwealth developing country, and not currently be living or studying in a developed country (please see the CSSS information booklet for a list of eligible countries);
- Hold a first degree at either first- or upper second-class level;
- Be sufficiently fluent in English to pursue the programme;
- Have not previously studied for one year or more in a developed country;
- Not be employed by a government department (at national level) or a parastatal organisation (employees of universities are normally acceptable);
- Be themselves, or through families, unable to pay for the proposed programme of study in the UK;
- Be willing to confirm that they will return to their home country as soon as their period of study is complete.Value, Benefits and Duration:
- The award will cover tuition fees, a maintenance allowance, economy air travel to and from the UK at the beginning and end of the scholar’s degree programme plus additional discretionary allowances.
- Awards are normally tenable for one year.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)


- Be nationals of (or permanently domiciled in) a Commonwealth developing country, and not currently be living or studying in a developed country (please see the CSSS information booklet for a list of eligible countries);
- Hold a first degree at either first- or upper second-class level;

Application Procedure

- You must separately apply for admission to UCL for one of the eligible programmes through the standard admissions procedure.
- You must apply for the scholarship on the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System (EAS) online following the procedures described on their website.
- In order to be considered for this scholarship at UCL, you must complete the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System (EAS) online: by the deadline of T23:59 (UCT) Sunday, 21 February 2016.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Extensive work experience covering related areas will be considered.

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