Geographical Information Systems: Theory and Practice

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The aim of this course is to introduce the student to Geographical Information Systems through a theoretical and practical approach.

This is an introductory course in GIS as a tool for the analysis of spatial data. Lectures introduce the theoretical aspects; computer labs provide the hands-on experience with professional GIS software.

This study covers topics like the different definitions and understandings of GIS as a tool versus a science, GIS in a historical and future perspective, the different data structures used to represent geographical data and how to secure the quality of such data. Further it focuses on the organisation of geographical data in databases and how to query these, and it presents various types of spatial analyses, modelling and sources of errors in GIS. The principles and applications of remote sensing are presented and an introduction to image processing is given.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The candidate

  • has theoretical knowledge about management and analyses of geographical data in a GIS
  • has a broad knowledge about the characteristics, representation and different models of geographical data
  • has adequate knowledge about spatial databases
  • can explain the principles of remote sensing as a method to collect data, present various applications and has adequate understanding of basic image-processing and analyses
  • can give account of various sources of errors in a GIS project
  • can give account of the historical development and future perspectives of GIS
  • can reflect upon and discuss the different definitions and understandings of GIS as a tool vs. a science.


The candidate

  • can collect, manage and analyse geographical data in a GIS
  • can complete all main types of GIS-analyses and combine them in own models (geoprocessing)
  • can assess and reflect upon various sources of errors in all steps of a GIS-analysis

General competence

The candidate

  • has adequate competence to plan and complete GIS-based analyses.
  • works independently with professional GIS software and is able to do theoretically based choices to secure quality of the completed work.

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
GEO110 or equivalent knowledge in cartography.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
GEO205 (5 ECTS), GEO305 (5 ECTS) and GEOV205 (10ECTS)
Access to the Course

Open to all students at the University of Bergen.

This course has a limited number of places. When registering for the course you apply to be admitted. The registration deadline for GEO215 is Friday in week 33, before the regular deadline. Students who fulfill the prerequisites, are admitted to the course after this priority list:

  1. Students from the Bachelor's Programme in Geography, geography students from the Bachelor's Programme in Environment and Resource Management
  2. Students from the Master's Programme in Geography at University of Bergen
  3. Exchange students and students from other programmes at The University of Bergen

Equally qualified applicants in group 3 will be prioritised according to registered date of application.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures/seminars and computer labs

6-8 lectures/seminars á 2 hours

1 datalab á 3 hours per week (7-8 datalabs)

Total: 12-16 hours of lectures: 24 hours in computer lab

10-12 weeks in total

In the course you`ll work in ESRI GIS software (ArcGIS). This software is only available for Windows and works optimally on computers with at least these specifications. If your computer is not compatible with these specifications or runs another operative system, you will be offered a virtual solution. In both cases, the course requires that you have access to a personal computer. For information about the offered solution, see UiB Hjelp - Tredjepartsportalen.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

2 approved lab reports and 1 written group assignment.

Approved lab reports and the group assignment will be valid for the following four semesters.

Forms of Assessment

The assessment comprises of two parts:

  • An individual written assignment (75%)
  • A multiple choice test (25 %)

All parts of the assessment must be passed in the same semester.

Grades for each part of assessment and the final grade will be published in Studentweb.

The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.

The exam can be submitted in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish

Grading Scale
Grading A-F
Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester

Retake exam

Exam part 1: Individual written assignment

Students with valid absence as defined in the UiB regulations § 5-5 can apply for an extended submission deadline to The application must be submitted before the deadline for submission has expired.

Exam part 2: Multiple choice test:

A retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5.

If there is a retake exam for students with valid absence, all students with valid compulsory activity can sign up for the retake exam. If you have the right to take a retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absences, you can sign up yourself in Studentweb after January 15.

Reading List
Literature is specified on a separate list. In addition all seminar descriptions and other material provided on Mitt Uib are part of the curriculum.
Course Evaluation
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.