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SURV120 Surveying and Spatial Science

An introduction to the field methods, equipment, and computational procedures used in surveying and spatial science to measure, map and analyse Earth’s surface features and the built environment.

An introduction to basic surveying and spatial principles, techniques, instruments and computational procedures.

SURV120 introduces students to basic surveying and spatial science, covering core theoretical knowledge, measurement skills, surveying calculations and to the connection between surveying and spatial information. The practical hands-on component involves the use of various surveying instruments and measurement methods. Field measurements are then analysed and visualised with specialised Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Students are introduced to surveying and spatial science from field measurements and data collection, data processing, analysis and visualisation.

SURV120 is also offered in the second semester as a "distance taught" paper. The material covered is identical to that taught in the first semester. A student in a distance taught paper can be either on the Dunedin campus or outside of Dunedin. When SURV120 is distance taught, there are no lectures nor tutorials to attend; however, there is a week-long on-campus practical session that is compulsory to attend. This one-week practical session is often held during the University’s mid-semester break.

Paper title Surveying and Spatial Science
Paper code SURV120
Subject Surveying
EFTS 0.1334
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Semester 1 (On campus)
Semester 2 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,173.39
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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SURV 101, SURV 111
Schedule C

This paper is suitable for all persons interested in surveying and spatial science as a profession or for those interested in applying survey techniques to their associated field or to gain an understanding of spatial measurement and interpretation. There is no limitation on student enrolment for this class.

SURV120 is a core paper requirement for entry into the Bachelor of Surveying and for the BSc degrees in Surveying Measurement and Land Planning and Development.

Enrolments in the distance (Semester 2) occurrence of this paper requires departmental permission.View more information about department permission.


Teaching staff

Lecturers: Dr Yong ChienZheng , Dr Pascal Sirguey and Aubrey Miller

Demonstrators: Craig Tidey , Kelly Gragg , Mike Denham and Judy Rodda

Survey Technical Staff will help run the practicals.

Senior survey students may assist staff with the practicals and tutorials.

Paper Structure

Learning Aims and Objectives of the Paper:

Students will

  1. Gain a basic knowledge in survey fieldwork and spatial data.
  2. Acquire basic skills in working with survey instruments.
  3. Gain an ability to do basic survey calculations.
  4. Learn survey and spatial theory and the use of basic mathematics.
  5. Learn to draw basic survey plan, including plotting contours.
  6. Be able to describe the functions of modern survey equipment and operations.
  7. Develop problem-solving skills in a working situation.
  8. Be able to differentiate between accuracy and precision in survey measurements.
  9. Use GIS to visualise data and conduct simple spatial analysis and understand the fundamentals of remotely sensed data and its application in geospatial science.
  10. Apply spatial problem-solving principles to real-world challenges facing society

Workload Expectations:

To do your best, you should plan on a total of 180 hours for class preparation, private study, group discussion, taking tests and the final examination. This includes 68 contact hours in lectures, tutorials and practicals.

Terms Requirements:

All practicals/tutorials must achieve a PASS to gain Terms, bar a maximum of one. A penalty may then also apply for this missing/failed work. If Terms are not met, you will be unable to sit the final examination. In keeping with School of Surveying policy, there is also a requirement to gain a minimum of 40% on the final examination to pass this class.


A combination of Blackboard tests, written tests, practicals, tutorials, and the final examination.

Teaching Arrangements

Lectures: Two 1-hour lectures per week – Monday and Wednesday

Tutorials: One 1-hour tutorial per week – Thursday or Friday

Practicals: One 3-hour practical or lab work per week – Monday, Tuesday or Thursday


Textbooks are not required for this paper.

Highly recommended: Surveying for Engineers, Uren & Price, 5th ed. 2010.

This book, or any survey book for that matter, will strongly reinforce the survey theory and provide for much greater understanding of the material. Survey textbooks can either be purchased or found at any library.

Library Resources Available: Textbook held on close reserve and three-day reserve. There are other basic survey books available.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Information literacy, Research.

View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

Students will gain the following from SURV120:

  1. A working knowledge of survey methods, spatial science, instrument use and applications.
  2. Lifelong learning skills applicable to all situations.
  3. The skills and knowledge used in typical New Zealand survey fieldwork.
  4. The ability to work through basic survey calculations in an organised and methodical manner while understanding error sources and measurement quality.
  5. The ability to understand and display spatial information in basic survey drawing and coordinate plotting.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 9-14, 16-22
Wednesday 13:00-13:50 9-14, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Monday 14:00-16:50 9-14, 16-22
A2 Tuesday 13:00-15:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
A3 Thursday 13:00-15:50 9-14, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Thursday 11:00-11:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
A2 Friday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 16-22

Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Friday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41