Basic Course Information

Courses numbered 1 - 49 are remedial or college preparatory courses which do not apply toward an A. A. Degree and are not intended for transfer. Courses numbered 50-99 apply toward an AA Degree, but are not intended for transfer. Courses numbered 100 and higher apply toward an AA Degree and/or are intended for transfer to a four-year college or university.

Discipline: GEOG
Course Number: 150
Title: Geographic Information Science and Spatial Reasoning

Units and Hours

Units: 3.00
Grade Option: Grade/Pass/No Pass
Course Length in Weeks: Min Weeks - 16 Max Weeks - 18
Min Semester Hours
Hour Type
Min Semester Hours
Max Semester Hours
Lecture Category
Lab Category
Out of Class Hour
Max Semester Hours
Hour Type
Min Semester Hours
Max Semester Hours
Max Lecture Category
Max Lab Category
Max Subtotal
Max Out of Class Hour
Max Totals

Grading Basis: Grade/Pass/No Pass
Basic Skills Requirements: Appropriate Language and/or Computational Skills.


To satisfy a prerequisite, the student must have earned a letter grade of A, B, C or P(Pass) in the prerequisite course, unless otherwise stated.

Prerequisite: MATH 60
Corequisite (Course required to be taken concurrently): None
Prerequisite: (Completion of, or concurrent enrollment in): None
Recommended Preparation: None
Limitation on Enrollment (e.g. Performance tryout or audition): None

Catalog Description

An introduction to spatial analyses and spatial distribution theories within the field of Geographic Information Science (GISci). Students will learn about fundamentals of cartography, GIS theory, global positioning systems, spatial relationships, and remote sensing in this course. Students will analyze environmental problems and the human landscape by using open-source GIS software packages to visualize, query, manipulate, and interpret temporal and spatial data.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:
  1. Student will describe the scientific method, including the formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of a hypothesis.
  2. Students should be able to interpret the output from ordinary least squares regression.

Specific Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explain the components of different coordinate systems and map projections;
  2. Identify and analyze the spatial distribution of environmental problems by integrating Geographic Information Science theories with geospatial technologies;
  3. Identify and analyze the spatial distribution of anthropogenic features by integrating Geographic Information Science theories with geospatial technologies;
  4. Describe the different components of a Geographic Information System, and their functions;
  5. Describe the different components of a Global Positioning System, and their limitations;
  6. Describe the different components of Remote Sensing, and potential sources of data collection and analytical errors;
  7. Create, edit, and validate simple geographic and attribute data;
  8. Create effective maps that comply with the theories of Visual Hierarchy and Intellectual Hierarchy;
  9. Identify trends, patterns, and relationships found in spatial and temporal data;
  10. Analyze, compute, and interpret mathematical solutions to spatial problems using spatial statistics and algebra.

Methods of Instruction

Methods of Instruction may include, but are not limited to, the following
  1. Discussion
  2. Lab
  3. Learning Modules
  4. Lecture
  5. Videos/Film
  6. Demonstration

Content in Terms of Specific Body of Knowledge

  1. Geographic Information Science (GISci)
    1. Scientific Method
    2. Map Scale and Data Resolution
    3. Cartography
      1. Intellectual and Visual Hierarchy theories
    4. Coordinate Systems and Projections
      1. Geographic coordinate systems
      2. Projected coordinate systems
      3. Conversion between coordinate systems
      4. Reprojection and datum transformations
      5. Georeferencing and root mean square error calculation
    5. Spatial Analysis and Coordinate Geometry
      1. Structured Query Language (SQL)
      2. Locational query
      3. Attribute query
    6. Basic Spatial Statistics and Regression
      1. Hypothesis testing
      2. Assumptions and frequency distributions (e.g. normal, Poisson)
      3. Calculation and interpretation of statistical measures in geography (Trends, Patterns, and Clusters)
        1. Geographic mean center
        2. Geographic median center
        3. Central feature
        4. Standard distance deviation
        5. Standard deviational ellipse
      4. Ordinary least squares regression
        1. Limitations and assumption violations (e.g. misspecification, autocorrelation)
    7. Modifiable Areal Unit Problem
  2. Spatial Data and Geospatial Technologies
    1. Origin of spatial data and data types
      1. Nominal
      2. Ordinal
      3. Ratio
      4. Interval
    2. Data accuracy vs. data precision
    3. Metadata
    4. Geographic Information Systems
    5. Global Positioning Systems
    6. Remote Sensing
    7. Open source systems
    8. Proprietary systems
  3. Analysis with GISci and Geospatial Technologies
    1. Analysis of physical landscapes and natural hazards
    2. Concentration of environmental problems and Tragedy of the Commons
    3. Spatial distribution of biodiversity hotspots and anthropogenic impacts
    4. Analysis of human population growth and demography
    5. Spatial distribution of industries and economic geography
    6. Trends and spatial clustering of crimes.


  1. Schoenherr, Allan. A Natural History of California. University of California Press, 1995.
  2. Krygier, John; Wood, Denis. Making Maps, Second Edition: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS . 2nd The Guilford Press, 2011.
  3. Mitchell, Andy. The ESRI Guide to GIS Analysis Volume 1: Geographic Patterns & Relationships. 1st ESRI Press, 1999.
  4. Mitchell, Andy . The ESRI Guide to GIS Analysis: Volume 2: Spatial Measurements and Statistics. 1st ESRI Press, 2005.
  5. Middleton, Nick. The Global Casino: An Introduction to Environmental Issues. 4th Oxford University Press, 2008.
  1. ArcGIS Explorer. Software. 1500. ESRI,
  2. ArcGIS Explorer Online. Software. Online. ESRI,
  3. Google Earth. Software. v.6. Google,
  4. ImageJ. Software. 1.44. National Institutes of Health, Used for remote sensing analysis..


Required Reading:
Journal articles and text on Geographic Information Science theories and spatial analysis. Case studies on the applications of geospatial technologies (GIS, GPS, Remote Sensing) in analyzing environmental problems and anthropogenic features will also be required in this course.

Required Writing:
One or more assignments chosen from the following options: - Weekly laboratory write-ups (2 - 3 page report of results and conclusions) - Case Study Analysis (2 - 3 page essay) - Semester Project (8 - 10 page term paper)

Critical Thinking:
Students will complete laboratory exercises that require them to integrate Geographic Information Science and geospatial technologies in order to solve spatial problems (e.g. finding point sources of river contaminants). In their semester projects, students must demonstrate a clear understanding of the applications of mathematics in spatial analysis.

Outside Assignments:
Students are expected to research novel applications of geospatial technologies in other disciplines by reading trade publications (e.g. ArcUser) or by interviewing industry professionals.

Students are expected to spend a minimum of three hours per unit per week in class and on outside assignments, prorated for short-term classes.

Methods of Assessment

Methods of Assessment may include, but are not limited to, the following:
  1. Class Participation
  2. Class Work
  3. Demonstration
  4. Exams/Tests
  5. Field Trips
  6. Homework
  7. Lab Activities
  8. Papers
  9. Projects
  10. Research Projects

Open Entry/Open Exit

Not Open Entry/Open Exit


Course is Repeatable for Reasons other than a Deficient Grade? No

Contact Person

Wing H. Cheung