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The University of Southampton

ENVS6033 GIS for Engineers

Module Overview

What is the likely impact of coastal erosion on local residents? Where is the most suitable location for a wind-turbine array? 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.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is for students to gain practical skills in accessing, manipulating and analysing spatial data using a GIS, and to present and interpret the results of these analyses effectively.

Learning Outcomes

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:

  • Developing the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (e.g. 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 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.
  • 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


The module comprises a series of lectures and computer laboratory sessions, supplemented with supervised workshops and a field trip. The computer laboratory sessions provide the technical skills necessary to use a widely used GIS, 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. • Viewshed analysis. • Multi-criteria analysis. • Modelling of environmental processes. • Working with remotely sensed data.

Special Features

Field-trip to the study site for the consultancy report. All paths are wheelchair accessible, other special needs will be catered for as required.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

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

Wider reading or practice50
Follow-up work10
Practical classes and workshops22
Completion of assessment task40
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Heywood, I., Cornelius, S. and Carver, S., (2011). An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems. 

Longley, P. A., Goodchild, M. F., Maguire, D. J. y Rhind, D. W. (2011). Geographic information systems and science. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Exercise 60%
Portfolio 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exercise 60%
Portfolio 40%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite and/or co-requisite : Familiarity with the Microsoft Windows operating system.


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

You will need to provide and wear your own suitable clothing when attending field courses, e.g. waterproofs, walking boots. You can purchase these from any source and costs will vary depending on your preference. You will be expected to purchase your own lunch and any additional refreshments. (clothing)

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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