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SURV412 Geovisualisation and Cartography

A theoretical and practical grounding in geographic information visualisation. Alongside the conventional map display, alternative (non-) spatial representations, interfaces to geographic data and visual exploration of complex datasets will be covered.

This paper is a theoretical and practical grounding in the various ways in which geographic information can be visualised. Beyond the conventional map display, alternative representations, interfaces to geographic data, visual exploration of complex datasets and cartographic generalisation will be covered. If anything embodies the approach of the paper in spirit it is the "globe" interface familiar to millions of Google Earth users. This is a departure away from decades of spatial data presentation and delivery in 2D map form inherited from its paper predecessors. In addition, visualisation is being used to make sense of "Big Data" and is increasingly using artistic methods to depict geography and time. These themes and more will be covered in this paper.

Paper title Geovisualisation and Cartography
Paper code SURV412
Subject Surveying
EFTS 0.1334
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,173.39
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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216 points (including SPIN 201 or SURV 208 or SURV 218)
SURV 512
Schedule C
Commerce, Science
This paper supports the 400-level courses in the BAppSc GIS and BSurv degrees.
Teaching staff

Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Associate Professor Tony Moore and guest lecturers.

Paper Structure
The main aim of this paper is to build theoretically and practically upon principles of geovisualisation and cartographic theory, taking it to an advanced level. Emphasis is given to modes of visualisation outside of traditional map presentation. Topics covered include:
  • 2D, 3D, 4D and non-visual mapping
  • Geospatial interfaces
  • Geographic virtual and augmented reality
  • Spatial cognition
  • Geodata exploration
  • Geovisual analytics
  • Art and historical maps
Teaching Arrangements
In general, there are two lectures per week, with a weekly, 3-hour practical lab session covering three short assessments and a major self-defined project over the semester. This is supplemented by semi-regular tutorial and seminar sessions.

Slocum, T, McMaster, R, Kessler, F and Howard, H. 2009. Thematic Cartography and Geovisualization, 3rd edition. Prentice Hall, NJ. and other readings indicated in class.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will
  • Develop a thorough theoretical and practical grounding in advanced cartographic representation, including 2D, 3D, 4D, sound and tactile maps
  • Develop an in-depth knowledge of the various ways we can interact with spatial data through geospatial interfaces such as GIS, geovisual analytics tools and virtual reality
  • Develop a thorough understanding of the cognitive basis of maps and interfaces, underpinning usability testing of these geospatial media
  • Be able to understand and apply visual techniques of geographic exploration
  • Gain an appreciation of geovisualisation and cartography from differing worldviews: scientific, critical and artistic
  • Gain practical project experience in a topic chosen from the above themes

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 14:00-14:50 28-34, 36-41
Tuesday 14:00-14:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 16:00-17:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 15:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41