Introduction to GIS
Introduction to the principles and techniques
underlying the use of Geographic information systems (GIS) for capturing
and visualizing geographically referenced information. Databases,
models and cartographic principles are also introduced emphasizing
the production of effective thematic maps using GIS software. Two
lectures, one lab (two hours); one term
|Prerequisite(s): One of EARTH SC 1G03, ENVIR SC 1G03, GEOG 1HA3, 1HB3, ISCI 1A24
|Cross-List(s): EARTH SC 2GI3, GEOG 2GI3, ENVIR SC 2GI3
Time/Term Offered: Spring, Term One, 2013
Instructor: Patrick DeLuca
Room: Burke Science Building Rm. 342/B
Tel:(905) 525.9149 ext. 27786
David Kynaston Email: email@example.com
Over the past decade, many organizations in the private and public sectors have implemented Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) to store, manage, analyze and visualize “geographic” data. In so doing, these
organizations acknowledge the power of GIS in creating information from data to facilitate decision making.
However, this power can only be realized if users of the technology have a thorough understanding of its basic
principles and techniques, many of which are grounded in cartography. This course seeks to empower you at an
introductory level in the effective use of this mature, but constantly evolving technology by addressing six
1. What is a GIS?
2. What is georeferencing?
3. How are data represented in a GIS?
4. How are data collected for use in a GIS?
5. How are maps made using a GIS?
6. How are problems solved using a GIS?
The answers to these questions are a necessary prerequisite for more advanced treatments of the subject.
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to answer the above questions. This implies that you
1. Basic cartographic principles underlying GIS—namely, conceptualizations of the Earth’s shape, map scale,
projections and coordinate systems.
2. Ways in which data are stored in a GIS—specifically, vector and raster data models.
3. The role of relational databases in GIS.
4. Primary and secondary data capture techniques such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) and digitizing
(both manual and on‐screen).
5. Basic cartographic principles underlying the effective design of thematic maps including, among others,
map elements, symbolization, typography and layout.
6. Basic techniques for analyzing vector data—namely, non‐topological functions such as attribute query and
measurement, and topological functions such as buffering and overlay analysis.
7. Basic techniques for analyzing raster data—namely, local, focal, zonal and global operations.
Upon successful completion of this course, you will also be proficient, albeit at an introductory level, in the use of
ArcGIS 10.1 for problem solving and thematic map production.
Please consult table for lecture and lab locations and times, attendance in both is mandatory. Please note
that you will require more time to complete the assignments than the allotted class time.
Required Text Books/Course materials:
Chang, K‐T. (2014) Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, 7th Edition. New York, NY: McGraw Hill. ISBN
You are expected to consult the above text for treatments of GIS principles, techniques and applications covered in
class. The schedule of readings is included with the Course Schedule. To make the most of your experience, you
should read this material prior to coming to class.
In addition to the course text, there are several text books in Mills and Thode Library that cover various aspects of
the course content in greater detail. You are encouraged to consult any of them for additional treatments of GIS
principles and techniques covered in class.
Avenue to Learn
A website has been developed for this course. All registered students are automatically enrolled in the website, which can be accessed at the following web address: http://avenue.mcmaster.ca/
The steps for logging into the website are as follows. Click on the McMaster e-learning button. In the MAC ID Login box, type in your MAC ID as your username. Next, type in the password that corresponds to your MAC ID. Finally, click on the Submit button. You should now be in your Avenue to Learn (ATL) home page. All courses you are enrolled in that make use of ATL will appear under My Courses. To enter a specific course, click on the course name.
Lab Exercises (6) 50% (Exercises 1, 5 @ 5% each and Exercises 2, 3, 4, 6 @ 10%)
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam (Non‐cumulative) 30%
The midterm exam will be 50 minutes in length and written in BSB 106 on May 22nd at 9:00 in class. The final exam
will be cumulative and is 2 hours in length. The exam will be written on June 14 in BSB 106.
To help you in studying for the midterm and the final exam, there will be a series of quizzes completed in class.
These will not be part of the evaluation, rather they will be used to show you the types of questions you will be
asked and we will take them up as a group immediately, thereby addressing any issues with the material as a
McMaster’s undergraduate grading system (see the Full‐Time Undergraduate Calendar 2010‐2011 located at
http://registrar.mcmaster.ca/CALENDAR/current/pg145.html) will be used in determining final grades.
Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception
or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences,
e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation
on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for
academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the
The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:
Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s
own or for which other credit has been obtained.
Improper collaboration in group work.
Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.
It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes
academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic
dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at http://www.mcmaster.ca/policy/Students-AcademicStudies/AcademicIntegrity.pdf
The University reserves the right to change any aspect
of this course outline.
The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term. The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.