Fall 2023 - GEOG 255 D100

Geographical Information Science I (3)

Class Number: 3622

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Oct 6, 2023: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

    Oct 11 – Dec 5, 2023: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 12, 2023
    Tue, 7:00–9:00 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Shivanand Balram
    1 778 782-2003
    Office: RCB 6143
    Office Hours: TBD



A basic overview of Geographical Information Systems and Science; GIS software, hardware, data structures and models; spatial data, operations and algorithms; practical applications and limitations. Students with credit for GEOG 354 may not take this course for further credit. Quantitative.


Course Description:
A basic overview of Geographical Information Systems and Science; GIS software, hardware, data structures and models; spatial data, operations and algorithms; practical applications and limitations. Geographic information systems (GIS) and science (GIScience) addresses important issues about the collection, description, mapping, visualization, and analysis of geographically referenced data. This course will introduce students to the technical differences between GIS and GIScience, the tools and methods that enable their effective use, and using spatial data management and analysis software contextualized for vector spatial data. The course also contributes to the development of practical skills that will be of immense value in workplace settings that deal with environmental and resources management, urban planning, crime analysis, and government socio-spatial services among others.

Course Organization:
There will be one 2-hours lecture per week. The lectures will be done in-person in the classroom to give insights into the methods related to GIS and GIScience. There will be a strong emphasis on problem-based and interactive learning. The readings will enhance and extend understanding of the materials presented in the lectures.

There will be one 2-hours lab session per week. The labs will be done in-person in the GIS computer laboratory to provide practical skills in GIS and GIScience. Software will be available at no cost (non-commercial use only) for your use in the computer lab. The emphasis is on the mapping, transformation, and analysis of spatial data.

In-Person delivery for both the lectures and computer labs. The course begins in the first week of the term.

- This course may be applied towards the GIS Certificate Program and the GIS Minor.
- The contents are subject to changes depending on the number of students, available resources and circumstances.


On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
- Understand the special advantages of geographic data and information
- Explain, critically evaluate and practically apply GIS and GIScience concepts
- Demonstrate competence in using software tools for GIS-based analysis
- Creatively design and implement GIS analysis for real-world problem-solving


  • Participation 2%
  • Quizzes 10%
  • Assignments 40%
  • Midterm Exam 18%
  • Final Exam 30%


The final marks are absolute and NOT scaled or assigned based on a curve.


Requirements for In-Person Learning:
- For work outside the computer laboratory: Modern Windows or Mac computer and reliable internet connection.



- Law, M. and Collins, A. (2021). Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro 2.8. 4th Ed.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.