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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.

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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.

Geographic Information Systems at Otago

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.

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.

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.

Background required

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.

Requirements

Geographic Information Systems as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, 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 Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), 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

LevelPapersPoints
100-levelSURV 120 Surveying and Spatial Science

18

200-levelSURV 220 Geographic Information Science18
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

SURV papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
SURV120 2024 Surveying and Spatial Science 18 Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV130 2024 People, Place and the Built Environment 18 Semester 2
SURV201 2024 Surveying Methods 1 18 Semester 1
SURV202 2024 Surveying Mathematics 18 Semester 2
SURV203 2024 Land Development Engineering 1 18 Semester 1
SURV204 2024 Land Development Engineering 2 18 Semester 2
SURV205 2024 Statutory Land Planning 1 18 Semester 2
SURV206 2024 Land Tenure 1 18 Semester 2
SURV220 2024 Geographic Information Science 18 Semester 1
SURV298 2024 Introductory Field Camp 0 1st Non standard period
SURV301 2024 Surveying Methods 2 18 1st Non standard period
SURV302 2024 Geodetic Reference Systems and Network Analysis 18 Semester 1
SURV303 2024 Urban Design 1 18 Semester 1
SURV304 2024 Land Development Engineering 3 18 Semester 2
SURV306 2024 Land Tenure 2 18 Semester 2
SURV307 2024 Cadastral Surveying 2 18 Semester 2
SURV309 2024 Introduction to Remote Sensing Technologies 18 Semester 1
SURV319 2024 Spatial Algorithms and Programming 18 Semester 1
SURV322 2024 Hydrographic Surveying 18 Semester 1
SURV329 2024 Selected Topics in Surveying 1 18 Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV399 2024 Third Year Field Course 0 1st Non standard period
SURV411 2024 Advanced Spatial Analysis and Modelling 18 Semester 2
SURV412 2024 Geovisualisation and Cartography 18 Not offered in 2024
SURV413 2024 Resource Mapping and Image Processing 18 Semester 2
SURV450 2024 Professional Practice 18 Semester 2
SURV451 2024 Surveying Methods 3 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
SURV452 2024 Hydrographic Surveying 2 18 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
SURV453 2024 Urban Design 2 18 Semester 2
SURV455 2024 Statutory Planning B 18 Semester 1
SURV456 2024 Land Tenure 3 18 Not offered in 2024
SURV457 2024 Cadastral Surveying 3 18 Semester 1
SURV458 2024 Marine Law and the Environment 18 Not offered in 2024
SURV459 2024 Engineering Surveying 18 Semester 2
SURV462 2024 Hydrographic Field Design and Voyage 18 Not offered in 2024
SURV463 2024 Advanced Practical Techniques in Hydrography 18 Not offered in 2024
SURV465 2024 Land Development Management 18 Semester 1
SURV469 2024 Selected Topics in Surveying 2 18 Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV470 2024 Professional Project 18 Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV473 2024 Special Topic 36 Not offered in 2024
SURV474 2024 Special Topic 36 Not offered in 2024
SURV480 2024 Research Project 36 Full Year, 1st Non standard period
SURV499 2024 Vacation Employment 0 Semester 1, Semester 2, Full Year
SURV509 2024 Introduction to Remote Sensing Technologies 20 Semester 1
SURV511 2024 Advanced Spatial Analysis and Modelling 20 Semester 2
SURV512 2024 Geovisualisation and Cartography 20 Not offered in 2024
SURV513 2024 Resource Mapping and Image Processing 20 Semester 2
SURV519 2024 Spatial Algorithms and Programming 20 Semester 1
SURV551 2024 Advanced Surveying Methods 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
SURV552 2024 Advanced Hydrographic Surveying 20 Not offered, expected to be offered in 2025
SURV553 2024 Advanced Urban Design 20 Semester 2
SURV555 2024 Advanced Statutory Planning 20 Semester 1
SURV556 2024 Advanced Land Tenure 20 Not offered in 2024
SURV557 2024 Advanced Cadastral Surveying 20 Semester 1
SURV558 2024 Advanced Marine Law and the Environment 20 Semester 1
SURV559 2024 Advanced Engineering Surveying 20 Semester 2
SURV562 2024 Hydrographic Field Design and Voyage 20 Not offered in 2024
SURV563 2024 Advanced Practical Techniques in Hydrography 20 Not offered in 2024
SURV565 2024 Advanced Land Development Management 20 Semester 1
SURV569 2024 Advanced Topics in Surveying 20 Semester 1, Semester 2
SURV573 2024 Special Topic 40 Not offered in 2024
SURV574 2024 Special Topic 40 Not offered in 2024
SURV575 2024 Special Topic 40 Not offered in 2024
SURV580 2024 Research project 40 Full Year, 1st Non standard period
SURV590 2024 Dissertation 60 Full Year, 1st Non standard period

More information

Contact us

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

Email tony.moore@otago.ac.nz

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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