About the course


The role of GI is nowadays of fundamental importance for a proper understanding of the environment evolution investigate the power of maps and spatial data to document and illustrate local and global issues. Learn how to use Geographic Information to explore the world around you and share ideas. This course focuses on scientific, technical and computational aspects of Geographical Information, with particular reference to the socioeconomic and environmental sciences.

The main goal of the course is to enable master degree students to use Geographical Information (GI) as a primary source of information for analysis of the landscape and as a starting point for further actions (e.g., landscape and infrastructure design, interpretation of urban and rural landscapes, etc.).


The course covers both theoretical and practical aspects through a project work.

In particular, the course will present the following concepts:

  • Explore how maps and spatial analysis pervade our world, and consider the use of maps in the media. Install the GIS software and take your first steps in displaying spatial data.
  • Interpreting maps: Interpret the symbols, contours and scale on a topographic map
  • Making maps: learn how the key elements of a map (scale bar, legend, graticule) allow viewers to interpret your map and understand your message.
  • Understanding spatial reference systems: learn how to refer to the spatial location of objects on the earth’s surface, and understand how this translates to locations on a flat map. View and overlay data from a range of spatial reference systems,
  • Representing spatial features: grasp the difference between discrete spatial objects and continuous surfaces, and learn the characteristics of the two primary data formats (vector and raster) which represent them. Practice working with both data types.
  • Working with raster layers: experience the power of DTMs to visualize environmental patterns. Manipulate raster layers in a real case study,
  • Working with vector layers: generate and edit your own vector data by hand-digitizing, and add non-geographic information to your new layers.
  • Introduction to spatial analysis: discover how the utility of GIS extends far beyond map-making. Explore concepts in spatial analysis that will allow you to create new data, identify patterns, and support future decision-making.
  • Remote sensing: explore how remote sensed data can be used to investigate ongoing global changes.

Learning Outcomes

Lectures, exercise sessions and project work will allow students to:

  • Understand how geographical data are produced (instruments and techniques) to evaluate which product is more suitable for each specific purpose
  • Analyze and understand the goals, assumptions and requirements associated to a geographical data (e.g., vector layer, othophotos, DTMs, etc.)
  • Understand the value of multi-temporal datasets (e.g., historical maps and cartography) and how to integrate them with current data sets
  • Understand the principles of a Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Realize analysis by using GIS tools
  • Define the role of a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and Open Data Platforms and Hubs
  • Communicate in a technically appropriate way the results of their analysis and share them with adequate tools


The course will take advantage on Innovative didactics actions specifically cooperation external research institutions (CNR-IREA and CNR-IIA) and MOOC contents. In particular, a set of tutorials are available on this site to cover the different topics presented during practical classes.