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The University of Southampton

GEOG6034 GIS for Environmental Management (ODL)

Module Overview

This module is intended to introduce students who have already studied the principles of geographical information systems (GIS) how to utilise GIS tools in environmental management. Environmental applications require specific skills on the part of the GIS professional. Such skills include familiarity with the sources of spatial environmental data and their relative strengths and weaknesses. Specific analytical skills are also required, such as the ability to analyse river network data and to handle digital elevation models. The module also explores how GIS can be integrated with environmental impact assessment and may be used to support decision-making. The unit will be particularly valuable to those students hoping to pursue a career in the environmental sector or to undertake a research project with an environmental focus. The module taught element will take a broad view of the role of GIS in environmental management, but will focus on river catchment, forestry, renewable energy, and ecological applications.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Critically evaluate contemporary developments in the use of GIS as a management tool for renewable energy, ecological, forestry, or catchment management, including examples of procedural and legislative structures and issues of professional implementation. • Assess the restrictions and opportunities represented by different data sources, models and structures in environmental applications. • Appreciate the approach necessary to design and evaluate a GIS application to solve a specific problem or fulfil a specific operational requirement within the fields of renewable energy, ecological, forestry, or catchment management. • Critically assess the major methods and techniques available to handle 2-, 3- and 4- dimensional environmental data sets. • Select and evaluate appropriate frameworks through which to support decision-making in the context of complex (multi-criteria) and uncertain systems.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Gain a detailed knowledge of selected parts of the subject that allow you to study the current literature and engage in discussion with peers – in relation to spatio-temporal data structures and spatial decision-making.
  • Abstract and synthesise information from a range of different sources – in relation to environmental impact assessment
  • Analyse and critically interpret primary and secondary data
  • Gain Knowledge of contemporary methods used to analyse remotely sensed imagery and other spatial data sets – in relation to land use/cover, digital elevation models, and spatial ecological data.
  • Pursue knowledge in an in-depth, ordered and motivated way.
  • Learn and study independently.
  • Conduct information processing (including IT skills): literature searches.
  • Conduct data manipulation (including IT skills): analysis of data (especially spatial data); statistical methods.
  • Manage: safe and effective project planning and execution; time management.
  • Communicate: oral and written presentation; scientific writing.
  • Conduct spatial data analysis – including habitat suitability assessment, terrain modelling, and spatial dynamic modelling.
  • Critically analyse the literature relating to remote sensing and spatial analysis


1. Introduction to environmental management 2. Environmental assessment and GIS 3. Adding the third dimension - elevation 4. Management applications of the third dimension 5. GIS for ecological management 6. Environmental monitoring with GIS 7. Managing and modelling land/use cover change 8. Web-based environmental GIS 9. Decision-making and decision support

Special Features

This module has no special features beyond PC use and seminar attendance

Learning and Teaching

Online discussion forums21
Independent Study129
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Other. All online materials for this module are provided through Blackboard, including links to online reference sources. Students will use ArcGIS and standard office software. ArcGIS is available off-campus through iSolutions for installation on students’ own PCs for those studying within the UK. Additional freely available software (e.g. R) may be used on an optional basis.



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 33%
Coursework 34%
Coursework assignment(s) 33%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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