Geographical Information Systems, M.Sc.

  • Application Deadline
  • 12 months
  • English (book IELTS)
University rank #801 (WUR) ,
Geographical information systems (GIS) is a relatively new academic subject. It is becoming increasingly useful for a range of professions including planning, the police force, research and other professionals who need to interpret geographical information.


Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is becoming increasingly important, both nationally and internationally, in the wide range of professions where acquisition, management, interpretation and analysis of geographical information is of use.

You can study a postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma or masters depending on the level of GIS knowledge you need. This is one of the first courses to be offered in this area and answers the need for well-trained professionals in this growing area.

GIS crosses many boundaries and offers a wide range of employment opportunities. This course is designed for people wanting employment in GIS as a • researcher • statistician • strategic analyst • GIS technician • planner • environmental modelling within a range of disciplines.

The course develops your capability to use, apply and understand geographical information systems by developing your

  • • knowledge of the fundamental principles of GIS
  • • ability to critically examine the theory and practices of GIS
  • • specialist technical skills as a GIS practitioner
  • • ability to undertake a professional career in GIS and multi-disciplinary contexts
  • • ability to complete an individual and in-depth research project that involves a critical and evaluative approach to GIS in academic research or professional practice

The course provides a balance of academic and practical content, giving you experience of using GIS in real life applied scenarios. Some students may have more relevant experience than others and the modules take this into account. If your current work involves using GIS regularly you can build on your learning through a work-based learning module. If you have less specialist experience you can work on a consultancy project module which gives you experience of using GIS on a project for a real world client organisation.

The course is structured around four core modules and a selection of optional modules. If you are studying for an MSc, you also complete a research methods module and a dissertation.

We also offer most modules on this course as standalone short courses.


• reports • individual and group presentations • electronic conferences • work-based portfolios • reflective diaries.

There are no formal examinations.


Full-time – one year minimum, two to three days a week
Part-time – two years minimum, one day a week
Starts September and January

Programme Structure

Core modules

Introduction to GIS

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to fundamental principles of GIS. Students also have the opportunity to develop their use of GIS. The taught delivery of the module focuses on the fundamental principles using relevant theories. The indicative content includes cartography, entity definition, and spatial data modelling and so on. This enables the students to appreciate the theories that underpin the application of GIS. Students have the opportunity to apply the principles using an appropriate GIS package such as MapInfo.

Applying GIS

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to use and management of GIS as software package and as a tool for decisions making support. The taught delivery of the module focuses on the development of GIS using relevant practices and necessary principles. The indicative content includes entity definition, spatial data modelling, data acquisition as well as providing students with clear themes for exploring GIS as a tool for supporting decision making.

GIS and spatial analysis

The aim of this module is to enable students to explore the concept of spatial analysis and the differences and commonalities of spatial and non-spatial analysis. The module also enables students to explore a range of spatial analysis techniques and to understand the situations in which they should be used.

GIS and statistical modelling

The aim of this module is to introduce students to key concepts and methods in modelling spatial data and to enable students to apply these techniques to a variety of scenarios and datasets, both socio-economic and environmental.

The description of spatial outcomes in statistical terms, as well as the modelling of the process by which outcomes arise, are important aspects of geographical enquiry and complement standard GIS mapping techniques. To this end, the aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of key statistical concepts and techniques appropriate for the analysis of spatial and small area data. The module will provide an understanding and application of a range of statistical techniques. The module also gives students proficiency in data manipulation and handling using a suitable statistical package.

Option modules

Network analysis and transport modelling

Networks are the systems made up of interconnecting routes along which entities can flow. These entities are wide ranging and can include people, vehicles, materials, energy or data, amongst many others. Networks play a vital role in the functioning of the modern world, in particular in the transit of people and goods within and between urban areas. The aim of this module is to introduce students to the concept of networks within the context of transport planning, modelling and logistics and to explore the application of GIS techniques and processes in these areas.

GIS and the environment

The aim of this module is give students the skills and knowledge to use of GIS in presentation, analysis and interpretation of environmental data. Unlike socio-economic data which is often available through censuses etc, environmental data is much less readily available and so researchers often have to collect this primary data. Students learn the main strategies for collecting environmental data. They also become aware of the nature of key environmental variables and the implications of this for their analysis.

Remote sensing

Remote sensing is a core focus of contemporary GIS application, both in current research and literature as well in professional/business contexts. Remote sensing technology and methods enables the collection and analysis of land cover data at a super-landscape scale and at temporal resolution that until the emergence of these technologies in the 1970's was impossible. The aim of this module is to introduce students to the theory, principles and physics of remote sensing. The module also enables students to explore the application of these techniques to a range of applied situations, both conceptually, and through practical experience of using image analysis software to process, interpret and analyse a range of remote sensing imagery.

Ecological survey and evaluation

The ability to plan and implement surveys to gather data on the natural environment are key skills required by many employers in the environmental sector. This module gives students an understanding of the main ecological techniques available. Ecological survey data is of little value unless it is appropriately interpreted. This module provides knowledge of the frameworks that exist for evaluating and interpreting ecological data.

Global perspectives on regeneration

The aim of this module is to explore the impact of globalisation on a range of urban localities across the world including the approach to urban policy engendered by neo-liberalism. Students gain an insight into how urban problems are managed in countries other than the United Kingdom with particular focus on how a range of urban regeneration policies and practices tackle problems such as crime, housing and homelessness, economic development, education, social exclusion, and community cohesion. The module provides students with the opportunity to experience urban issues in a different cultural setting by offering the option of a fieldtrip to Shanghai.

Consultancy project

The aim of the module is to reinforce the relationship between practice and critical study in a work-based environment by providing opportunities to network and gain project work experience in a relevant professional field. It aims to strengthen awareness and respect for the cultures, ethos, administrative arrangements and values of professional fields of practice. This helps develop relevant professional skills to enhance employability. The module may also contribute to the student's PPD.

Academic and professional portfolio

This module aims to provide a supportive and versatile academic environment in which students are able to engage in bespoke developmental learning activity to suit their particular needs. Students are equally provided with the opportunity to focus on employability skills as an integral aspect of their studies. It aims to support the transition into study and onwards to employment for the diverse range of students we welcome and to enhance the enjoyment and academic achievement in all other modules on the course.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity

    You can choose to do this programme part-time or full-time.

    • Full-time duration 12 months
    • Average part-time duration 24 months
    • Intensity Flexible
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

English Language Requirements

You need the following IELTS score:

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Book IELTS

    StudyPortals Tip: The UK government has confirmed new English-language testing requirements for visa and immigration purposes. Learn more

Academic Requirements

A lower second class degree or above in a relevant subject ensures consideration for entry on to the course.

Individuals without a suitable degree will be considered where they can demonstrate they meet the applicant entry profile and have worked for two years at a management level using GIS in the workplace, or, have a sufficiently high level of technical ability and responsibility within their role to meet the satisfaction of the admissions tutor.

If English is not your first language you typically need an IELTS 6.0 score with a minimum of 5.5 in all skills or equivalent. If your English language skill is currently below IELTS 6.0 we recommend you consider a Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve an equivalent English score.

Tuition Fee

  • International Applies to you

    13250 GBP/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 13250 GBP per year and a duration of 12 months.
  • EU/EEA Applies to you

    6300 GBP/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 6300 GBP per year and a duration of 12 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Home / EU student:

Course fees may be subject to annual inflationary increase.

2016/17 academic year

  • Typically £6,300 for the course
  • Part-time – typically £2,100 for year one and £4,200 for year two
  • Plus an optional field trip fee of approximately £600

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 a year are available across the majority of subject areas.

International student:

2016/17 academic year

  • Typically £12,500 for the course, plus an optional field trip fee of £600

2017/18 academic year

  • Typically £13,250 for the course, plus an optional £TBC field trip fee


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