Award: 5 credits at level 4
Duration: 12 weeks
Start Date: January (Semester 2)

ENVB40460 GIS for Environmental Investigations


This module is for students in Semester 2 of the MSc, Graduate Diploma or Certificate in Environmental Sustainability (Negotiated Learning) course.

What will I study?

This module introduces students to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The module will include a limited number of lectures and will be largely based on practical GIS exercises.

GIS tools and methods will be applied within the framework of an environmental impact assessment assignment, to identify and assess environmental resources and to investigate the potential pressures/effects on such resources. This approach will enable students to gain GIS skills as they undertake the assignment, facilitating a hands-on and practice-led application and testing of the relevant software components.

Topics include:

  • GIS software (commercial and open-source resources)
  • Environmental spatial data (international and national data providers and online data sources)
  • Spatial data management issues (e.g. spatial coverage, quality, scale, metadata)
  • GIS applications (examples of GIS use in environmental assessment and sustainable planning)
  • Introduction to ArcView 10 software (ArcMap, ArcCatalog and ArcToolBox)
  • Practical application of ArcView 10

How will I study?

The GIS for Environmental Investigations module will include:
  • Presentations by the lecturer
  • GIS tool demonstration videos by the lecturer
  • Learning reinforcement questions
  • Online submission and assessment of the GIS assignment
  • GIS test (see below)
  • Interactive discussion boards and one-to-one response to any module-related queries

Expected Commitment

Students are not required to attend any lectures at the UCD campus as part of the module. However, they are expected to attend the final semester GIS test and spend a total 120 hours workload during the semester consisting of:
  • Lectures, videos and other online learning materials (throughout the semester): 24 hours
  • Assessment and questions (throughout the semester): 24 hours
  • Student autonomous learning: 72 hours

How will I be assessed?

In-semester assessment: 60% (submissions of the practical exercise)

2 hour end of semester GIS practical exam: 40% (GIS test)

On successful completion of this module I will be able to

At the end of the course students will have:
  • Theoretical knowledge of GIS, applications, environmental spatial data sources and data management issues.
  • Working competence of the GIS software package ArcView 10.
  • Ability to demonstrate the application of GIS tools to environmental assessment and sustainable planning.

Am I eligible?

Applicants must hold a minimum of a 2.2 honours level degree in a science, engineering or related discipline. Students should have basic computer skills and understanding of maps.