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The University of Southampton

GEOG6109 Programming for GIS and Spatial Analyses

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to provide students with the skills required to understand and write software programs for analysing spatial datasets. More specifically the module will provide the students with the ability to develop programs that enable them to efficiently repeat the same analyses for different datasets (batch processing). Within this, the students will learn how to read, analyse and display data using open-source programming languages, as well as the basics of computer programming syntax. The software used for this course will be ArcGIS, which is available at the university, and the open-source programming language Python. It is assumed students will have a good basic understanding of using ArcGIS for GIS analyses before starting the module, so Geography 6061 is a pre-requisite for the module.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the basic principles of writing useful code for spatial analyses
  • Understand scripting in Python for data analyses within the ArcGIS environment
  • Develop programs and algorithms for spatial analyses in ArcGIS using Python


This module is heavily practical-based to maximize the opportunities for students to learn and apply programming skills for spatial analysis with real datasets. It starts with several practicals introducing the basics of programming in Python, before then moving to implementing GIS analyses via Python code in the ArcGIS environment. A major emphasis is on general good practice designing workflows and organizing code for spatial analyses, which will be useful when working on spatial analyses in other packages (e.g. QGIS; which is also based on Python code, as well as R). Introductory lecture This 1 hour lecture will introduce the students to the main reasons why programming is so useful for spatial analysis, using real examples from the published literature. Topics covered will include reproducibility of code and the ability to batch process analyses. Practical classes – 3 hours each Practical 1 - Review of ArcGIS and an introduction to ModelBuilder. his practical will briefly review the basics of ArcGIS. It will also introduce ArcGIS’s ModelBuilder functionality, which provides an easy-to-use way of batch processing that provides a useful precursor to programming in Python with ArcGIS. Practical 2: Introduction into the basics of Python Practical 3: Introduction into Python II. Introduction into control statements. Practical 4: Introduction into Python III. More on control statements, and an introduction to writing functions. Practical 5: Introduction into Python IV: De-bugging code in Python. Practical 6: Introduction into scripting GIS workflows in ArcGIS via Arcpy. Practical 7: Using control statements and functions to run GIS analyses using Arcpy. This will build on the material in Practical 6. Practical 8: Working with rasters using Arcpy. Practical 9: Designing efficient workflows using Python in the ArcGIS environment. Practical 10: Advanced features in Arcpy. Introduction into the NumpyArray and the UpdateCursor. Practical 11: Advanced use of functions and control statements in Arcpy using the material in Practical 10.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will consist of : a) An introductory lecture that outlineswhy programming is such a valuable skill for spatial analyses b) Practical classes in the computing laboratories. Each of these will consist of a short lecture briefly outlining any necessary background information the datasets being used as well as the key concepts that the practical will cover. Dissemination of course information via Blackboard that will include lecture and practical handouts, the relevant datasets and coursework information

Independent Study116
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: GEOG6061

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