Learning GIS > Courses

Courses at UMass Amherst

Courses at the Five Colleges

Looking for a GIST program?

Check out the two programs offered through the Department of Geosciences:

Undergraduate GIST Certificate
MS Geography – GIST

Course Descriptions

CE-ENGIN 470/570 – GIS for Engineers

Spring 2020
Nick Tooker, Colin Gleason
Mo 10:10AM – 11:00AM

Introduction to fundamental principles and concepts necessary to carry out meaningful and appropriate geographic analysis with geographic information science (GIS). Reinforcement of key issues in GIS such as geographic coordinate systems, map projections, spatial analysis, use of remotely sensed data, and visualization of spatial data. Laboratory exercises use database query, database manipulation, and spatial analysis to address problems in hydrology, water treatment, renewable energy, and transportation with an emphasis on engineering design. Students will gain familiarity with the leading commercial and open-source GIS platforms.

Enrollment Requirements: Mulitmodal course. CE-ENGIN 570 is open to Graduate students only. Prerequisite: CE-ENGIN 270. UWW class; $47/term reg. fee + $569/credit. Refunds differ from Univ. day classes; see www.umass.edu/online. Students who enroll in this lecture will have to choose between two options for a lab section – one online and the second at Mt. Ida.

CE-ENGIN 497A/597A – Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems in Engineering

Fall 2020
David Price
Th 2:30PM – 5:15PM
Fully remote class

This course is designed to teach students about the fundamentals associated with the development of innovative technology applications in the air transportation systems area. Emphasis will be placed on airport, ground operations; the design and deployment of the next generation air traffic management system (NEXTGEN); and the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national air space (NAS).

Enrollment Requirements: Prerequisite: CE-ENGIN 310.

CE-ENGIN 497UA/597UA – Scientific Techniques of UAS Remote Sensing

Winter 2021
Ryan Wicks
TuFr 12:00PM – 1:30PM
Fully remote class

This course will introduce the basic techniques needed for UAS pilots to begin to support scientific projects with their UAS operations and to do rudimentary analysis with their own raw data products using geographic information systems (GIS) software. Topics covered will include how to measure and quantify spatial error and accuracy of data products, how to accurately measure multispectral at surface reflectance, how to accurately measure temperature using thermal imagery, and techniques for how to synthesize data products into a rudimentary analysis.

Enrollment Requirements:

UWW class; $47/term reg. fee + $482/credit. Refunds differ from Univ. day classes; see www.umass.edu/uww/resources/refund-policy. Familiarity with GIS is highly recommended.

E&C-ENG 597IP – Image Processing

Fall 2020
Mario Parente
TuTh 11:30AM – 12:45 PM
Fully remote class

Visual information plays an important role in many aspects of our life. Much of this information is represented by digital images. Image processing is ubiquitous, with applications including television, tomography, photography, printing, robot perception, and remote sensing. This course is an introductory course to the fundamentals of digital image processing. It emphasizes general principles of image processing, rather than specific applications. We expect to cover the following topics: 2D and 3D image acquisition and display, color representations, image sampling, point operations, linear image filtering and correlation, image transforms, image enhancement, image restoration and denoising, and image analysis.

Enrollment Requirements: This class is open to Undergraduate Seniors in Engineering only. It is recommended that students have some experience with the content of ECE 313 (Signals & Systems) and ECE 314 (Intro. to Probability and Random Processes).

ECO 690A – Cartography

Fall 2019
Bethany Bradley
Th 1:00PM – 2:15PM

Cartography is the art and science of making maps, which are a primary output of GIS analysis. At their best, maps are both content rich and intuitive. By looking at examples of effective maps and practicing creating and revising maps, this course aims to develop your skills as a cartographer. This seminar will focus on developing your map making skills and intuition.

Enrollment Requirements: Pre-Requisite: NRC 585.

ECO 697DD – Spatial Databases and Data Interoperability

Fall 2020
Alexander Stepanov
Th 2:30PM – 3:45PM, Fr 2:30PM – 3:45PM
Fully remote class

This course will introduce students to modern approaches in working, managing and sharing geospatial data. The course focuses on exposing students to state-of-the-art practices in retrieving/selecting, aggregating, analyzing and processing geospatial data from multiple heterogeneous sources and technologies, such as relational databases (RDBMS), spatially enabled RDBMS, NoSQL databases, file-based databases, CAD, BIM, web-services, web-APIs, XML-based spatial data, GeoJSON, KML, cloud-based repositories and open data hubs.

ECO 697DR – Spatial Data Analysis in R

Spring 2020
Michael Nelson
Lecture: MoWe 11:15AM – 12:05PM
Lab: We 12:20PM – 2:15PM

Spatial data provides an extra layer of information that provides an opportunity to gain powerful insights from our data. Analysis of spatial data also poses unique challenges and pitfalls. In this course, students will learn a range of techniques for analyzing data with spatial information, from both a theoretical standpoint as well as implementation of methods in R. Topics covered in the course include descriptive and inferential concepts in that students are likely to encounter in their research including (but not limited to) spatial autocorrelation, clustering, interpolation, and geographically weighted regression.

Enrollment Requirements: Prerequisite: ECO 602 and 635.

ECO 697K – Python for ArcGIS

Spring 2020
Forrest Bowlick
TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM

This course will cover a number of methods and applications in GIS. Basic automation methods of repetitive or complex tasks using Model Builder and Python scripting will be covered first. Then these methods will be applied to a number of common problems in Natural Resources including home range definition species habitat relationships, occupancy models, and movement analysis.

Enrollment Requirements: Pre-Requisite: NRC 585 or instructor’s permission.

ENVIRSCI 390J – Landscape and Watershed Biogeochemistry

Fall 2019
Justin Richardson
Lecture: MoWeFr 1:25PM – 2:15PM
Lab: We 4:00PM – 6:45PM

Landscapes and their geology influence atmospheric and hydrologic functions, which govern the sources and transport of elements. Watershed exports are cumulative integrators of soils, bedrocks, and vegetation elemental cycling, controlling the rate of elemental emissions to the Earth’s atmosphere and to the oceans. In this course, we will evaluate quantitatively and qualitatively elemental biogeochemistry in watersheds and across landscapes. Moreover, we will examine how human populations affect these scale processes.

Enrollment Requirements: Prerequisites: BIOLOGY 110, 151 or CHEM 110.

GEOGRAPH 352/592M – Computer Mapping

Spring 2020
Don Sluter
TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM

Mapping projects through the use of software mapping packages. Students select their own final projects.

Enrollment Requirements: Additional fees are associated with this section. GEOGRAPH 352 is open to Undergraduate Students only. 

GEOGRAPH 426/626 – Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation

Fall 2020
Qian Yu
TuTh 10:00AM – 11:15AM
Fully remote class
Link to course website

This course introduces the principles of digital image analysis for interpreting remotely sensed data for environmental, resource and urban studies. Emphasis will be given to the processing and information extraction from optical and thermal imagery.

Enrollment Requirements: This class is for Undergrads. Grads register for Geograph 626.

GEOGRAPH 468/668 – GIS and Spatial Analysis

Spring 2020
Qian Yu
TuTh 10:00AM – 11:15AM

This course introduces fundamental concepts and methods of geographic information system. Emphasis on developing skills using GIS to solve typical spatial problems in the geosciences and environmental sciences.

Enrollment Requirements: Prerequisite: NRC 585 or GEOGRAPH 593A. Additional fees are associated with this section.

GEOGRAPH 491P/691P – GIS Programming

Fall 2020
Seda Salap-Ayca
Th 9:45AM – 12:45PM
Fully remote class

This course will explore programming methods and applications in geographic information science. Basic automation methods of repetitive or complex tasks using Model Builder and Python scripting will be explored through the lens of spatial thinking and computational thinking. Fundamentals of Python will also be explored for use inside and outside of the GIS environment.

GEOGRAPH 493S/693S – Spatial Decision Making and Support

Fall 2020
Seda Salap-Ayca
Tu 6:00PM – 8:30 pm
Fully remote class

This graduate-level course is aimed at students who have a foundation in basic GIS techniques and applications and are interested in expanding their knowledge into their area of spatial decision making and visualization of the decision maps. We will start with the linkage between GIScience, spatial analysis, and decision support. We will then discuss different decision-making techniques and highlight the important distinction between conventional MCDA methods and spatially explicitly multicriteria approaches. An overview of handling spatial uncertainty as well as sensitivity analysis will be discussed. The course will also introduce Python scripting for geoprocessing as flexible approach for the development of spatial decision-making models.
In this course, students will:
– Learn the fundamentals of spatial decision making and support
– Become familiar with using Python scripting to solve decision-making problems for spatial models
– Create decision analysis maps along with uncertainty/sensitivity maps in order to support the decision-making process

Enrollment Requirements: UWW class; $47/term reg. fee + $569/credit. Refunds differ from Univ. day classes; see www.umass.edu/online. This is a multimodal course, and meets with the following sections: University, CPE, and Mt. Ida. The University section will be held at the Amherst campus remote synchronously, at Mt. Ida face-to-face, and online fully asynchronous with options for synchronous interactions for interested students. Please contact your Advisor for more info.

GEOGRAPH 493W/693W / NRC 597GW – WebGIS

Spring 2020
Forrest Bowlick
TuTh 8:30AM – 9:45AM

Students in WebGIS will explore web-based applications in geographic information science. This course will focus on hands-on practice using and building web-based mapping and analysis platforms, including Google Maps, ArcGIS Online, Leaflet, and Open Street Map. Along with conceptual discussion of how the internet, web servers, and cloud-based GIS services function, students will create and host web services relevant to their coursework, research, or professional goals.

GEOGRAPH 592B – GIS Seminar

Fall 2020
Don Sluter
We 1:25PM – 2:15PM
Fully remote class

No description available online.

GEOGRAPH 593G – Introduction to GIS

This course is equivalent to NRC 585 – Introduction to GIS

Summer 2020
Seda Salap-Ayca
Days and times TBA
More information about Geosciences Summer courses

This class serves as an introduction to Geographic Information Science (GIS). GIS is the science of spatial relationships, linking data to locations to explore relations between objects. Based in geographic thought and emerging from initial applications in natural resource management, GIS has evolved to be a universally applicable way of thinking and set of tools. Through lab work and foundational lecture, this course covers the guiding principles behind various facets of GIS including the nature of spatial data, map projections, spatial analysis, and cartographic production. By evaluating the relationship between different spatial information you can identify the best location for new development, locate pollution point sources, find the easiest way to get from point A to point B, and develop a better understanding of the way the world interacts. The goals of this course are to teach you basic GIS concepts through practice and theory to enable you to make useful and meaningful contributions to various disciplines through spatial analysis. Throughout this course, you will be challenged to not only think spatially, but apply spatial analysis techniques within GIS.

Enrollment Requirements: Online class; $47/term reg. fee + $569/credit. 

GEOGRAPH 593T – Teaching and Learning in GIS

Fall 2020
Forrest Bowlick
Fully remote class

Students in this course will learn about the pedagogy behind GIS curriculum and instruction through practice as lab assistants in an introductory GIS course. Alongside readings establishing evidence-based practices in GIS instruction, students will work to identify barriers and frustrations for GIS learners, and ways to overcome them.

Enrollment Requirements: Instructor Consent Required. Note: This is a course for undergraduate GIS TAs to earn credit towards the GIS certificate.

ITALIAN 397V – Medieval Myths and Maps

Fall 2019
Michael Papio
TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM

Everyone knows Marco Polo went to China, but few realize that his travel stories made almost no impact at all on Italian literature, culture or geography before the High Renaissance. What did medieval Italians really know about the world around them before Columbus “discovered” America? Through the literature, travel narratives and maps that were available at the birth of Humanism, students will explore two overlapping imaginary worlds: the Christian landscapes of places mentioned in the Bible (often embellished with highlights from Crusader lore and Pilgrim Guides), and the Classical Mediterranean, ubiquitous in Pliny’s geographical studies, the recently rediscovered Pomponius Mela and, of course, all the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome. Students will address urgent questions (Where did Odysseus sail? Are there really places where ants are as big as cows? What’s a Sciapod?) and will learn to use simple GIS to create interactive maps. Course counts toward Italian major and minor, as well as the Medieval Studies Certificate. Course taught in English. Written assignments in Italian for Italian Majors.

NATSCI 191CNS96 – Maps and More: Thinking Spatially

Fall 2019
Amanda Suzzi
We 12:20PM – 1:10PM

What is spatial thinking? Whether it is an outbreak of a disease, the discovery of a new species, the path of a tornado, or the location of the nearest pizza place, knowing about where things happen is important to how we understand and relate to our local environment and to the world at large. This course will help students develop problem-solving skills, cultivate critical thinking skill, and foster data literacy skills, through employing cutting-edge technology to address real-world problems.

Enrollment Requirements: Open to Natural Sciences Freshman with a declared major or on the Natural Sciences Exploratory Track.

NRC 585 / GEOGRAPH 593G / SPP 697B – Introduction to GIS

Fall 2020
Forrest Bowlick
Lecture: Th 11:30AM –12:45PM
Lab Sections: Th 2:30PM – 5:30PM, Fr 9:05AM – 12:05PM, Fr 1:25PM – 4:25PM
Fully remote class

The goals of this course are to teach you basic GIS concepts such as spatial data sources and structures, projections and coordinate systems, geospatial analysis, cartographic modeling, and the integration of remote sensing and GIS. By the end of the course, students will be proficient in ESRI ArcGIS software.

Enrollment Requirements: NRC 585 is open to graduate students in ECO or SUSTAIN SCIENCE and seniors and juniors in NRC, BCT, or ENVIRSCI. GEOGRAPH 593G is open to Geography majors. SPP 697B is open to students in the Master of Public Policy & Admin (MPPA) and Public Policy (MPP) programs.

NRC 592B – Readings In GIS

Fall 2019
Forrest Bowlick
Tu 6:00PM – 9:00PM

In this course, students will read and discuss three journal articles about applications of GIS in Natural Resources. In addition, students will write an annotated bibliography about a GIS topic of their choice.

NRC 597B / SPP 597B – Unmanned Aerial Systems: Applications and Policy

Spring 2020
Charles Schweik
TuTh 2:30PM – 3:45PM

This is a project-based interdisciplinary course which will provide instruction and guidance to students as they gain practical experience using UASs in a variety of applications. Classroom instruction will cover: mission planning, data analysis, data visualization and UAS public policy in national and international contexts. Additionally, students will have lab instruction in which they process and analyze imagery and data acquired by UASs using combinations of different photogrammetry and GIS software packages. The course content is not exhaustive, but rather this is an introductory course that develops fundamental skills that students will need to execute their own projects using UASs. Example projects might include: Damage assessment and Infrastructure Inspection, Agricultural Health Assessment, Real-time mapping and Development of GIS layers, Invasive species mapping

Enrollment Requirements: Pre-Requisite: NRC 585. Prerequisite: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems or Instructor’s permission.

REGIONPL 625 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Planning

Spring 2020
Henry Renski
MoWe 2:30PM – 3:45PM

This is an introductory, graduate-level course in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in urban and regional planning.

REGIONPL 673 – Spatial Analysis and Regional Development

Fall 2020
Henry Renski
MoWe 2:30PM – 3:45PM
Fully remote class

This course is a hands-on study in regional and local economic, demographic and spatial analysis methods commonly used by planners and economic development policy analysts.

Courses

ARHA-232 / ARCH 232 – Cartographic Cultures

Fall 2019
Dwight Carey
MW 12:30PM-01:50PM

This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will question the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.

Courses

GEOG 205 – Mapping and Spatial Analysis

Spring 2020
Thomas Millette
TTH 08:30AM-09:45AM

Provides a comprehensive introduction to maps, including their design, compilation, and computer production. Introduces students to the principles of abstracting the Earth’s surface into spatial databases using GIS, remote sensing, and Global Positioning Satellites.

GEOG 210 – GIS for Soc Sci & Humanities

Fall 2019
Eugenio Marcano
MW 11:00AM-12:15PM

This course introduces the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other geospatial technologies in the social sciences and the humanities. The student will learn to collect, process, and analyze quantitative data within the spatial (geographic) context where they occur. Course content may include research topics from current faculty.

Courses

ENV 150 / GEO 150 – Modeling Our World: Intro to GIS

Fall 2019
John Loveless
MWF 10:50AM-12:05PM

A geographic information system (GIS) enables data and maps to be overlain, queried and visualized in order to solve problems in many diverse fields. This course provides an introduction to the fundamental elements of GIS and applies the analysis of spatial data to issues in geoscience, environmental science and public policy. Students gain expertise in ArcGIS — the industry standard GIS software — and online mapping platforms, and carry out semester-long projects in partnership with local conservation organizations and/or campus offices. Enrollment limited to 20.

GEO 251 – Geomorphology

Spring 2020
Robert Newton
MW 10:50-12:05

The study of landforms and their significance in terms of the processes that form them. Selected reference is made to examples in the New England region and the classic landforms of the world. During the first part of the semester laboratories involve learning to use geographic information system (GIS) software to analyze landforms. During the second part of the semester laboratories include field trips to examine landforms in the local area. Prerequisite: 101, or 102, or 108 or FYS 103.

Linked course: Multiple required components–lab and/or discussion section. To register, submit requests for all components simultaneously.

SDS 192 – Intro to Data Sciences

Spring 2020
Benjamin Baumer
MWF 10:50-12:05

An introduction to data science using Python, R and SQL. Students learn how to scrape, process and clean data from the web; manipulate data in a variety of formats; contextualize variation in data; construct point and interval estimates using resampling techniques; visualize multidimensional data; design accurate, clear and appropriate data graphics; create data maps and perform basic spatial analysis; and query large relational databases. No prerequisites, but a willingness to write code is necessary. Enrollment limit of 30.

SDS 390-01 – Topics in Statistics and Data Science

Fall 2019
Katherine Halvorsen
TTh 10:50-12:05

Course description: Statistical methods for analyzing data must be chosen appropriately based on the type and structure of the data being analyzed. The particular methods and types of data studied this in this course vary, but topics may include: categorical data analysis, time series analysis, survival analysis, structural equation modeling, survey methodology, Bayesian methods, resampling methods, spatial statistics, missing data methods, advanced linear models, statistical/machine learning, network science, relational databases, web scraping and text mining. This course may be repeated for credit with different topics. Prerequisites: MTH/SDS 290 or MTH/SDS 291 or MTH/SDS 292.

Section description: Theory and applications of statistical methods for the analysis of categorical data. The course includes an overview of statistical methods for analyzing discrete data including binary, multinomial, and count response variables. Nominal and ordinal responses will be considered. Topics may include contingency table and chi-squared analyses, logistic, Poisson, and negative-binomial regression models. R statistical software will be used. Prerequisites: Regression Analysis (MTH 291), Research Design (MTH 290), or Data Science (MTH 292), or permission of the instructor.

SDS 390-02 – Topics in Statistics and Data Science

Fall 2019
Benjamin Baumer
MW 10:50-12:05

Course description: Statistical methods for analyzing data must be chosen appropriately based on the type and structure of the data being analyzed. The particular methods and types of data studied this in this course vary, but topics may include: categorical data analysis, time series analysis, survival analysis, structural equation modeling, survey methodology, Bayesian methods, resampling methods, spatial statistics, missing data methods, advanced linear models, statistical/machine learning, network science, relational databases, web scraping and text mining. This course may be repeated for credit with different topics. Prerequisites: MTH/SDS 290 or MTH/SDS 291 or MTH/SDS 292.

Section description: Advanced programming techniques for data science using R. This course is not about data analysis—rather, students will learn the R programming language at a deep level. Topics may include data structures, control flow, regular expressions, functions, environments, functional programming, object-oriented programming, debuggging, testing, version control, documentation, literate programming, code review, and package development. The major goal for the course is to contribute to a viable, collaborative, open-source, publishable R package. Prereqs: SDS 192 and CSC 111.

Last Updated on November 25, 2020