Fall 2021 - GEOG 451 D100

Spatial Modeling (4)

Class Number: 4314

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Instructor:

    Suzana Dragicevic
    1 778 782-4621
    Office: RCB 6233
  • Prerequisites:

    GEOG 251 or one of STAT 201, 203 (formerly 103), 205, or 270; one of GEOG 351, 352, 353, 355 or 356.



Spatial models for the representation and simulation of physical, human and environmental processes. GIS and spatial analysis software are used in the laboratory for model development, from problem definition and solution to visualization. Quantitative.


Course Description
Spatial models allow us to represent real-world phenomena that change over space and time by using geospatial data, GIS and geosimulation approaches. Students will learn concepts related to the theory of complex systems, geographic automata, particularly cellular automata and agent-based models, as well as artificial intelligence, and their integration with GIS for representing, simulating and forecasting dynamic geographic phenomena. The topics will include but are not limited to space-time models of land-use/land cover change, urban sprawl, forest fires propagation, pollution, flooding, or invasive species spread. Issues of model testing and validation will also be examined. Students will learn how GIS, complexity theory and geographic automata can be used in simulating geographic phenomena and will be exposed to the scientific research process in the field of GIS-based spatial modeling.

The course is based on a combination of instructor-led presentations on theoretical and applied concepts related to spatial modeling and geosimulation, together with a hands-on modeling project. A required list of readings of scientific journal papers covering selected course topics will be provided. Each student will write a brief literature review on the topic for selected weekly readings.

Computer labs are designed to inform and support model building ideas and implementation through a project. Students will choose a dynamic spatio-temporal problem and conceptualize a modeling strategy to resolve it. GIS software will be available to implement a solution and the teaching assistant will be available to assist in that process. The final project will be presented as a short video and a final report written as a short scientific paper.

Remote delivery: the lectures and labs will be a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous, but primarily asynchronous. The midterm test scheduled for late in the term will be synchronous. There is no final exam. The lectures and labs will begin in the first week of the term.

- Depending on the number of students enrolled, available resources and any changing circumstances during the term, the evaluation and course content can be subject to changes.
- This course may be applied towards the GIS Certificate Program.


  • brief literature review 15%
  • project proposal 15%
  • project video presentation 15%
  • project scientific paper report 35%
  • midterm test (synchronous) 20%


All marks in the course are absolute and not scaled or assigned based on a curve.



Requirements for Remote Learning:

Recent Windows or Mac computer, video camera, microphone, keyboard, mouse, reliable internet connection.
The GIS software and reading materials will be made available for your use during the course.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.