Fall 2023 - GEOG 451 D100

Spatial Modeling (4)

Class Number: 3640

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Mon, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

    Oct 10, 2023: Tue, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Suzana Dragicevic
    1 778 782-4621
    Office: RCB 6233
    Office Hours: TBD
  • 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 not limited to the following: 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.

Lectures: 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: The computer labs are designed to inform and support students in model building ideas and implementation through a project. Students will choose a dynamic spatio-temporal problem, acquire relevant geospatial datasets and conceptualize a modeling approach to resolve it. Required GIS software will be available at no cost in the physical computer lab to implement a solution. The final project will be presented as a short scientific paper.

Format: In-Person delivery for both the lectures and computer labs. The course begins on Monday September 11th.


  • The assessment categories are subject to change on short notice depending on the number of students enrolled, available resources and any changing circumstances during the term.
  • This course may be applied towards the GIS Certificate Program and the GIS Minor.


  • short literature review 10%
  • project proposal with assembled spatial data 15%
  • mid-project review 5%
  • project presentation 15%
  • project scientific paper report 30%
  • midterm test 25%


There is no final exam. All marks in the course are absolute and not scaled or assigned based on a curve.


Requirements for In-Person Learning: For work outside the GIS computer laboratory, student can use a modern Windows computer and reliable internet connection to progress their work. Mac computers may not be compatible with the GIS software used.



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.