Spring 2023 - GEOG 355 D100

Geographical Information Science II (4)

Class Number: 2520

Delivery Method: Blended


  • Course Times + Location:

    Location: TBA

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2023
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    GEOG 255.



An examination of technical components of GIS. Topics include spatial representations, generalization and data management; computational algebra and set theory; digital surfaces and terrain models. Quantitative.


Geographic Information Science (GIS) is a unique amalgamation of geographical principles, computer science and mathematics. This course will examine theoretical, geographical and technical components of GIS, from spatial representation to matrix algebra to new spatial media. Emphasis will be maintained, however, on the quality and completeness of GIS data, data structures, and processing. The course will include discussion of representation, data input and quality, data structures, raster storage and analysis, vector storage and analysis, scale and generalization and ethics of spatial analysis and mapping.

By prying below the surface of GIS, the course will enable students to better understand the complexities of computing, spatial representation and the fundamentals of geographical information science.

Course Structure

Lectures – These will be asynchronous, recorded lectures that will go through the theoretical concepts of the course and uploaded for you to access during the week of the lecture. The lectures will be accompanied by instructor videos in order to break up the content.

Labs – These will be synchronous labs during which the TA will share a combination of recorded and live instructions and content for you to go through the lab exercises and assignments. You will also be given the chance to work in groups in order to share and learn the software together so you can use it in subsequent courses.

Exams: Both the midterm exam and the final exam are synchronous.

How to prepare yourself to remotely learn GIS in this course

  1. Get to know your computer. Feel free to download the software earlier on in the semester and figure out if it works on your computer or struggles. There are lots and lots of videos online on small tasks you can do on QGIS. If your computer is struggling, it might be a good idea to consider preparing yourself to use the remote connection to the SIS labs.
  2. Be prepared to put in time and energy into learning the software. QGIS is a widely documented Open Source software program that is used by professionals and academics all over the world. You will be able to find resources on Google, Github, Stack Exchange, Reddit, you name it! Explore and be curious!
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you have a question, someone else in the class probably has the same question. For this reason, communicating within your groups during the labs will help you help yourself in the long run.
Note: Labs will be held during the first week of classes


  • Labs - Each of the 8 labs will be awarded 2% points for a total of 16% - giving you a bonus mark if you complete all of the material correctly 15%
  • Lab assignments - These will comprise of individual smaller assignments to help you build your proficiency with the course software, QGIS. Not only will you learn how to use the software, but also how to interpret results and apply them to situations using what you have learnt in lectures 20%
  • Midterm - The midterm will be a remote exam for you to review what you have learnt in labs and lectures 25%
  • Participation - Your participation mark will comprise of both instructor and TA interactions as well as your engagement with LAB instruction. Your review and study of course materials will be taken into account. 5%
  • Final exam - The final exam will be a remote exam for you to review everything you have learnt in labs, lectures and any discussions Throughout the semester 35%


Lab exercises (8)                     15%             due on Friday of each lab week
Assignments                           20%             throughout semester
Mid-term exam                        25%             TBD
Participation                             5%              throughout
Final exam                               35%            On assigned day in April

Course Policy

Late penalty: Due dates are set to help you manage your time as you work through the course material remotely. Adhesion to the suggested timeline will help you earn 100% of your desired grades. If you need extra time to complete your assignment, please consult with me as soon as possible.



QGIS is an open-source GIS software that will be available for use on computers in the SIS labs that can be connected to remotely but can also be downloaded for free for Windows, Mac and Linux OS. Instructions on which software version to use and how to download them will be shared during the first week of labs.

Under SFU's Education Site License, SFU students, staff, and researchers may download the following software to home computers for academic use ONLY. This includes teaching and classroom use and research purposes. 

Software available to download/install on home computers

  • Microsoft 365
  • ESRI Applications such as ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, ESRI CityEngine, etc.
  • Matlab with Named User License
  • Adobe CC with Named User License*

* ONLY those who are in SFU payroll are eligible for Adobe CC with Named User License


A text for the lab will be available through Canvas (hosted by SFU library) at the start of the semester. It is open source and will guide you through all your labs. Other material for labs will be linked via Canvas.

Lecture materials will include instructor-made videos, voice-over slide shows and white board recordings.


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