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.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study

Bachelor and master

Semester of Instruction


Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
10 ECTS overlap with GEO215
Access to the Course

Access to the course requires admission to a programme of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

This course has a limited number of places to be shared between the Departments of Earth Science and Geography. When registering for the course you apply to be admitted. Priority is given to bachelor students, then master students, then students from exchange programs and other departments at UiB.

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). The software is available for download from the IT department's website ( and works for Windows. ArcGIS Pro is also available through the University's tredjepartsportalen ( which allows you to run licenced software from your private computer, although this service is still in testing and may be subjective to instabilities. 

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 elements:

  • 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.

Grading Scale
A - F
Assessment Semester
Assessment in teaching semester
Reading List
The reading list will be available within July 1st for the autumn semester and Deecember 1st for the spring semester.
Course Evaluation
All courses are evaluated in line with UiB's quality system for education
Examination Support Material
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Course Coordinator
The course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB, or you may contact
Course Administrator
The Faculty for Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Earth Science has the administrative responsibility for the course and program