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The University of Southampton

ENVS6032 Geographical Information Systems for Environmental Consultants

Module Overview

What is the likely impact of coastal erosion on local residents? Where is the most suitable location for a solar farm? How will sea-level rise impact protected habitats? Understanding the spatial context in which environmental processes occur improves the ability of scientists and engineers to answer important questions regarding the impacts and management of those processes. This module teaches you to use a Geographical Information System to visualise, explore and model environmental data in order to further understand these important questions. No prior knowledge of GIS is assumed or required; a series of guided practical computer labs will teach you the basics of accessing data, creating informative maps and exploring and modelling the spatial processes that shape our world. You will then put these skills into practice in an independent project. Pre-requisite and/or co-requisite: Familiarity with the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The need for both a multi-disciplinary and an interdisciplinary approach in advancing knowledge and understanding of Earth systems, drawing, as appropriate, from the natural and the social sciences
  • The processes which shape the natural world at different temporal and spatial scales and their influence on and by human activities
  • The terminology, nomenclature and classification systems used in environmental science
  • Methods of acquiring, interpreting and analysing environmental science information with a critical understanding of the appropriate contexts for their use
  • The contribution of environmental science to debate on environmental issues and how knowledge of these forms the basis for informed concern about the Earth and its people
  • The contribution of environmental science to the development of knowledge of the world we live in
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Recognising and using subject-specific theories, paradigms, concepts and principles
  • Analysing, synthesising and summarising information critically, including prior research
  • Applying knowledge and understanding to complex and multidimensional problems in familiar and unfamiliar contexts
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Receiving and responding to a variety of information sources (eg textual, numerical, verbal, graphical)
  • Communicating appropriately to a variety of audiences in written, verbal and graphical forms
  • Appreciating issues of sample selection, accuracy, precision and uncertainty during collection, recording and analysis of data in the field and laboratory
  • Preparing, processing, interpreting and presenting data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and packages including geographic information systems
  • Solving numerical problems using computer and non-computer-based techniques
  • Using the internet critically as a means of communication and a source of information
  • Developing the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (eg working independently, time management and organisation skills)
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Planning, conducting, and reporting on environmental investigations, including the use of secondary data
  • Collecting, recording and analysing data using appropriate techniques in the field and laboratory
  • Referencing work in an appropriate manner


The module comprises a series of lectures and computer laboratory sessions. The computer laboratory sessions provide the technical skills necessary to use leading GIS packages, whilst the lectures provide understanding of the fundamental assumptions underpinning spatial analysis. Indicative content includes: • Creating a professionally formatted map. • Working with vector and raster data. • Geoprocessing of data. • Data projection. • Overalay analysis. • Proximity analysis. • Multi-criteria analysis.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will be delivered by lecture and computer laboratory sessions. These will be delivered by the module leader, with support from postgraduate demonstrators in the laboratory sessions. Learning activities include: • Attendance at lecture / laboratory sessions. • Self-directed learning – additional practical work, additional reading. • Private study – research and preparation for the module assignment.

Follow-up work12
Completion of assessment task40
Wider reading or practice50
Practical classes and workshops24
Preparation for scheduled sessions12
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 40%
Coursework 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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