GEOG 258 Intro to Mapping & Geographic Information System • 5 Cr.


The maps we use shape the way we think about the world. Course explores the history and influence of maps and mapmakers, from the ancient world to the high-tech images of today. Basic computer literacy recommended.


After completing this class, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate through written work an understanding of spatial and non-spatial problems; the student should be able to describe the importance of scale and the need to impose a location component in map design. Students will be able to differentiate between nominal data, ordinal data, interval data and ratio data: as well as an ability to define concepts such as relative location; absolute location; spatial interaction; clustering and dispersion; orientation; proximity; and spatial diffusion.
  • Demonstrate through mapwork, in-class tests and class discussion an understanding of the methods employed to collect data from a variety of land use types, including the physical landscape and rural and urban environments. The student should be able to identify the significance of primary and secondary sources of data collection and be able to assess the most appropriate method(s) to be utilized to effectively research and develop a particular topic.
  • Assess and appropriately select those cartographic techniques that are employed to effectively communicate and represent spatial information, such as maps, graphs, tables and charts. Mapwork and discussion will focus on the presentation of cartographic designs to most accurately and effectively represent reality. Students should be able to identify the characteristics of symbols used to convey point, line and area information; be able to identify essential map elements; be aware of the differences between qualitative and quantitative maps; appreciate the relevance of distortion imposed by map projections; and be able to produce an appropriate map from statistical information.
  • Recognize and portray through cartographic techniques and class discussion the traditional methods of map design involving the use of map overlays to manage and manipulate spatial data used to interpret spatial information; work undertaken will utilize examples from a variety of topic areas at different scales of enquiry.
  • Assess the role played by computers and information technology in the realm of cartography. The student should be able to see the differences that exist between the many types of computer file structures used to store geographic information and the ways by which computer stored data can be accessed, retrieved and displayed visually. Mapwork and class discussion will allow the student the opportunity to identify the differences between raster and vector models of spatial imaging.
  • Demonstrate through mapwork and written work the different methods of data manipulation functions that can be used to allow data from disparate sources to be used simultaneously. The student will be able to use analysis functions that enable the extraction of relevant information from the data base. The student should be able to create maps, tables and charts from the GIS data base and display on both the monitor and as hard copy. The student will be able to articulate the relevance of information layering as an essential component of a GIS and its role in the production of successful map design.
  • Explain through short essays the importance of GIS in the work of many agencies involved in work that incorporates a spatial component, such as transportation departments; public utilities; rural and urban planning agencies; market research organizations; governmental agencies; environmental groups; and hazard and emergency response agencies, among others.