Spring 2022 - GEOG 455W D100

Theoretical and Applied GIS (4)

Class Number: 4907

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 10 – Apr 11, 2022: Thu, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    GEOG 355.



A critical examination of advanced topics in GIS, such as: boundary definition, expert systems and artificial intelligence, error and uncertainty, and scale in a digital context. Examines social applications and the roles of GIS in society. Students will design original projects, including data acquisition, analysis, and web site development. Students with credit for GEOG 452 or GEOG 455 may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Quantitative.


Course Description:

This course blends advanced theoretical study of GIS with original scientific research and writing. In the seminar portion of the course, you will read and critique seminal academic papers in GIScience. Each week will introduce a new topic of current interest in GIS. These topic areas cover a spectrum of applied and theoretical problems in GIS. These include: representation of spatial phenomena, spatial epidemiology, public participation GIS, critical GIS, volunteered geographic information, location based services, mobile applications, electronic spatial data privacy and trust in data.

F2F lectures will illustrate the conceptual questions that drive GIS research. The material will be supplemented by weekly podcasts in which I discuss the readings and the issues that they raise with prominent researchers in GIScience.

The readings and our discussion of them are designed to instill an appreciation for the complexities of the technical and theoretical hurdles involved in developing and applying geographic information science in the real world. By the end of the semester, students will have a sense of the many theoretical directions that advanced study in GIS might entail. Discussion of the readings should, in addition, suggest avenues for constructive enquiry into existing and new research – with a view to developing improved solutions to technical, privacy and representational problems in GIS.

This course is a “W” or writing course. As such, each of the assignments is designed to develop and improve writing skills. In this course, we focus on technical proposal and report writing as well as summaries and critiques of scientific papers. Finally, writing for digital media is encouraged through slide show presentations and website development.

The Laboratory: Using GIS to answer and report on scientific research questions.

The laboratory portion of this course is designed to acquaint students with real- time/data application of GIS to research problems. The project will include three components of a typical GIS projects: 1) data discovery and/or collection; 2) analysis; 3) presentation of cartographic and written results as well as a website. Each aspect of the project development will be presented in a scientific report that emulates the quality and detail that would be expected from a consulting company or research white paper. The website will enable students to develop skills for digital writing and presentation.

Your teaching assistant will meet with you each week in the lab. They will assist you with your project design and execution.

There are no labs in the first week of classes.

Spring 2022 courses will be delivered in person based on information available at the time of publishing the outline; please note the delivery mode is subject to change following Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and/or SFU recommendations and orders.


  • Intellectual issues research paper 35%
  • Intellectual issues slide show 15%
  • Project proposal 15%
  • Scientific research report 20%
  • Project website 15%


Evaluation Subject to Change



You are required to read a compilation of seminar articles. Each lecture will also address aspects of the weekly readings. As part of the assessment, each student will write a detailed essay dealing with the topic for one of the week’s readings. This assignment will be marked based on the following criteria: literary construction, precision in language, brevity, and acuity of analysis.

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 spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this 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 spring 2022 term.