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Study Geographic Information Systems at Otago

Placing the world at your fingertips.

Take a look around you… notice how every feature has its own unique and precise location. These locations can be fixed by geographical coordinates and measured in one, two or three dimensions in space. The process of linking features with geo-referenced coordinates creates spatial data, and these data are stored and managed in geographic information systems (GIS).

GIS have revolutionized the way that spatial data are used – many aspects of our everyday lives are connected with GIS in one way or another, from the obvious Google Earth and mobile location technologies to morning mail delivery, our electricity supply, through to weather forecasts every evening.

Apply for the Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours (BAppSc(Hons)) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Science (PGCertAppSc) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Science (PGDipAppSc) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Why study Geographic Information Systems?

GIS are fundamental to urban and regional planning, wildlife management, using business intelligence in commerce, tourism, public health, traffic management, and a host of other applications.

It is a multi-billion-dollar worldwide industry, with opportunities almost anywhere in the global economy. It is an area of study that is truly cross-disciplinary.

GIS combines academic rigour with practical application. Accurate, complete and up-to-date spatial information is an immensely valuable resource for businesses and governments.

Career opportunities

There are diverse opportunities for GIS graduates throughout New Zealand and worldwide. You’ll gain the specialist skills needed to work as a GIS or Remote Sensing operator, analyst or manager.

You may end up employed by a large corporation, working in local, regional or the national government, or equally, you could work for a consultancy firm. This kind of work tends to have plenty of variety, and opportunities for domestic and international travel.

You might be identifying the geographical distribution of endangered plant, animal or bird species. You could work for a regional council, analysing the risk of landslips or flood mitigation; or advising on planning issues. You will also be in an excellent position to launch your own business after you have gained some experience in the spatial information industry.

Background required and mode of study

There is some flexibility in entry requirements, but demonstrated strength in Year 13 mathematics is recommended.

As well as learning theory and applications of GIS in lectures, you’ll gain hands-on experience. You’ll use cutting-edge software, and you could even be involved in customising GIS tools for specific purposes.

Your studies will also involve field trips, visiting sites for which you have a satellite image or something similar, and confirming what each feature represents.

You’ll carry out 6–10 weeks of work experience over the summer at the end of your second and/or third year, make connections between the knowledge you gain in the classroom and the workplace. It will also help you to start building a network of contacts in the industry.

What will I learn?

As a GIS graduate you’ll have a thorough understanding of spatial data, analysis, and visualisation, and be able to apply GIS techniques. You’ll learn about mobile GIS and web mapping as well as remote sensing (including from drones) and GNSS (GPS) positioning. You’ll also learn skills in project management, cartographic presentation, database design, and basic computer programming.

What is the Bachelor of Applied Science?

The strength of the Applied Science programme is its outward focus – developing market-ready graduates with wide-ranging skills and practical experience in the workplace. Applied Science is a three-year undergraduate degree with open entry at 100-level.

Can I combine my GIS study with other subjects?

Yes!

Your first-year course can cover the prerequisites for Software Engineering or Environmental Management and others.

The Applied Science degree requires a second major or a minor in a relevant complementary field of study.

What will I study?

First year

You will study foundation Geospatial Science, Information Science, and Computer Science with the option to back this up with Surveying and Geography. This underpins the specific GIS courses in the following year.

Second year

You’ll learn the basics of GIS and their applications – simple spatial data storage, analysis, and visualization; a geographic or surveying topic; the technology associated with GIS: databases, spatial data structures, and information systems.

Third year

You’ll be introduced to the basic techniques of satellite and airborne remote sensing/photogrammetry, spatial analysis and GIS programming. You’ll have the choice of taking a surveying or geography topic to this level.

Fourth year

For those of you undertaking Honours, there is a full year dissertation project, a primer on project management, and courses on geovisualisation/cartography, and advanced remote sensing/photogrammetry.

Qualifications

Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.

*It is a requirement that every Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) normally includes an approved minor subject or an approved second major subject. Usually such a minor or second major subject must be selected from the approved combinations of major subjects with minor or second major subjects. Some exceptions may apply. For details see:

Full list of available approved minor and second major subject areas

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) majoring in Geographic Information Systems

Year Papers Points
100-level

COMP 101  Foundations of Information Systems

COMP 161  Computer Programming, or COMP 162  Foundations of Computer Science

MATH 130  Fundamentals of Modern Mathematics 1, or MATH 140  Fundamentals of Modern Mathematics 2

SURV 120  Surveying and Spatial Science

At least one of COMP 151, EAOS 111, GEOG 101, GEOG 102, GEOL 112, STAT 110, SURV 130, ENGL 228

Note: Students are exempt from COMP 161 if they have gained entry to COMP 162 by passing COMP 151 with a grade of at least B or via an Advanced Placement Test.

18

18

18

18

18

200-level

INFO 201 Developing Information Systems 1

INFO 202 Developing Information Systems 2

SURV 220  Geographic Information Science

At least one 200-level GEOG or SURV paper

18

18

18

18

Above 200-level

SURV 309  Introduction to Remote Sensing Technologies

SURV 314  3D Reality Capture

SURV 319  Spatial Algorithms and Programming

SURV 320  Spatial Analysis and Visualisation

At least one further 300-level GEOG or SURV paper

18

18

18

18

18

Plus

108 further points, including either requirements for an approved minor or approved second major subject or other approved papers

108

Total   360


Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours (BAppSc(Hons)) in Geographic Information Systems

Papers

Master of Applied Science (MAppSc) in Geographic Information Systems

Papers
  • SURV 509  Introduction to Remote Sensing Technologies

  • SURV 511  Advanced Spatial Analysis and Modelling

  • SURV 512  Geovisualisation and Cartography

  • SURV 513  Resource Mapping and Image Processing

  • SURV 519  Spatial Analysis and Programming

  • Two further approved 400-level papers

  • APPS 597 Supervised Independent Study or APPS 598 Workplace-based Project

Master of Science (MSc) in Geographic Information Systems

Papers and Thesis
  • GEOG 495  Master's Thesis Preparation

  • Four papers from:
    • SURV 509  Introduction to Remote Sensing Technologies
    • SURV 511  Advanced Spatial Analysis and Modelling
    • SURV 512  Geovisualisation and Cartography
    • SURV 513  Resource Mapping and Image Processing
    • SURV 519  Spatial Analysis and Programming
    • and/or other 400- or 500-level papers approved by the Programme Director

  • Thesis: GISS 5

    Note: The papers are normally taken before undertaking the thesis.

Minor subject requirements

Geographic Information Systems as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree

Level Papers Points
100-level SURV 120  Surveying and Spatial Science

18

200-level SURV 220  Geographic Information Science 18
Above 200-level, three of

SURV 309  Introduction to Remote Sensing Technologies

SURV314  3D Reality Capture

SURV 319  Spatial Algorithms and Programming

SURV 320  Spatial Analysis and Visualisation

54

Total   90

Papers

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
SURV120 2023 Surveying and Spatial Science 18 points Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV130 2023 People, Place and the Built Environment 18 points Semester 2
SURV169 2023 Special Topic 18 points Not offered in 2023
SURV201 2023 Surveying Methods 1 18 points Semester 1
SURV202 2023 Surveying Mathematics 18 points Semester 2
SURV203 2023 Land Development Engineering 1 18 points Semester 1
SURV204 2023 Land Development Engineering 2 18 points Semester 2
SURV205 2023 Statutory Planning A 18 points Semester 2
SURV206 2023 Land Tenure 1 18 points Semester 1
SURV207 2023 Cadastral Surveying 1 18 points Semester 2
SURV208 2023 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 18 points Semester 1
SURV297 2023 Land Development Field Course 0 points 1st Non standard period
SURV298 2023 Introductory Field Camp 0 points 1st Non standard period
SURV299 2023 Second Year Field Course 0 points 1st Non standard period
SURV301 2023 Surveying Methods 2 18 points 1st Non standard period
SURV302 2023 Geodetic Reference Systems and Network Analysis 18 points Semester 1
SURV303 2023 Urban Design 1 18 points Semester 1
SURV304 2023 Land Development Engineering 3 18 points Semester 2
SURV306 2023 Land Tenure 2 18 points Semester 2
SURV307 2023 Cadastral Surveying 2 18 points Semester 2
SURV309 2023 Introduction to Remote Sensing Technologies 18 points Semester 1
SURV319 2023 Spatial Algorithms and Programming 18 points Semester 1
SURV322 2023 Hydrographic Surveying 18 points Semester 1
SURV329 2023 Selected Topics in Surveying 1 18 points Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV399 2023 Third Year Field Course 0 points 1st Non standard period
SURV411 2023 Advanced Spatial Analysis and Modelling 18 points Semester 2
SURV412 2023 Geovisualisation and Cartography 18 points Semester 2
SURV413 2023 Resource Mapping and Image Processing 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SURV450 2023 Professional Practice 18 points Semester 2
SURV451 2023 Surveying Methods 3 18 points Semester 1
SURV452 2023 Hydrographic Surveying 2 18 points Semester 2
SURV453 2023 Urban Design 2 18 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SURV454 2023 Environmental Engineering 18 points Not offered in 2023
SURV455 2023 Statutory Planning B 18 points Semester 1
SURV456 2023 Land Tenure 3 18 points Semester 2
SURV457 2023 Cadastral Surveying 3 18 points Semester 1
SURV458 2023 Marine Law and the Environment 18 points Semester 1
SURV459 2023 Engineering Surveying 18 points Semester 2
SURV460 2023 Construction Management 9 points Semester 2
SURV462 2023 Hydrographic Field Design and Voyage 18 points Not offered in 2023
SURV463 2023 Advanced Practical Techniques in Hydrography 18 points Not offered in 2023
SURV469 2023 Selected Topics in Surveying 2 18 points Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV470 2023 Professional Project 18 points Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV473 2023 Special Topic 36 points Not offered in 2023
SURV474 2023 Special Topic 36 points Not offered in 2023
SURV480 2023 Research Project 36 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period
SURV499 2023 Vacation Employment 0 points Semester 1, Semester 2, Full Year
SURV509 2023 Introduction to Remote Sensing Technologies 20 points Semester 1
SURV511 2023 Advanced Spatial Analysis and Modelling 20 points Semester 2
SURV512 2023 Geovisualisation and Cartography 20 points Semester 2
SURV513 2023 Resource Mapping and Image Processing 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SURV519 2023 Spatial Algorithms and Programming 20 points Semester 1
SURV551 2023 Advanced Surveying Methods 20 points Semester 1
SURV552 2023 Advanced Hydrographic Surveying 20 points Semester 2
SURV553 2023 Advanced Urban Design 20 points Not offered, expected to be offered in 2024
SURV554 2023 Advanced Environmental Engineering 20 points Not offered in 2023
SURV555 2023 Advanced Statutory Planning 20 points Semester 1
SURV556 2023 Advanced Land Tenure 20 points Semester 2
SURV557 2023 Advanced Cadastral Surveying 20 points Semester 1
SURV558 2023 Advanced Marine Law and the Environment 20 points Semester 1
SURV559 2023 Advanced Engineering Surveying 20 points Semester 2
SURV562 2023 Hydrographic Field Design and Voyage 20 points Not offered in 2023
SURV563 2023 Advanced Practical Techniques in Hydrography 20 points Not offered in 2023
SURV569 2023 Advanced Topics in Surveying 20 points Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV573 2023 Special Topic 40 points Not offered in 2023
SURV574 2023 Special Topic 40 points Not offered in 2023
SURV575 2023 Special Topic 40 points Not offered in 2023
SURV580 2023 Research project 40 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period
SURV590 2023 Dissertation 60 points Full Year, 1st Non standard period

Key information for future students

Contact us

Dr Antoni Moore
Tel +64 3 479 7589
Fax +64 3 479 7686

Email tony.moore@otago.ac.nz
Website Applied Science programme