Introduction To Earth Observation 2019-07-18T09:04:57+02:00

Introduction To Earth Observation

This introductory course is aimed at beginners who need instruction in the basic principles and techniques fundamental to remote sensing.

Themes covered in the course include:

  • Principles of remote sensing and earth observation
  • The electromagnetic spectrum
  • Reflectance characteristics of various objects on the earth’s surface
  • Atmospherical interaction with electromagnetic energy
  • Digital imagery
  • Image resolution
  • Satellite systems
  • Image enhancement
  • Image acquisition, data preparation, pre-processing
  • Unsupervised and supervised image classification
  • Field methodology and accuracy assessment
  • GIS integration

Upon completion, participants should understand the basic principles of earth observation, the electromagnetic spectrum, digital data, image resolution, satellite systems, pre-processing techniques and classification. The participants should be able to carry out an EO workflow in the remote sensing software package of ENVI.

Basic skills needed to do this course?

Participants need to have basic computer skills.


This course is accredited by Stellenbosch University, an accredited higher education provider.


Students who complete the full course will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a generic understanding of what Earth Observation is.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the specialist knowledge needed to apply remote sensing techniques.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the functionality available in a remote sensing software package.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Understand digital data.
  • Identify suitable sources of imagery.
  • Explain why pre-processing is required and how it can be applied.
  • Identify the appropriate pre-processing techniques.
  • Do field surveys for earth observation applications.
  • Carry out a supervised and unsupervised image classification.
  • Understand how to perform and interpret an accuracy assessment.


Check our calendar for dates on when the short course is presented.

Prescribed reading

In preparation for the course, participants will be expected to read Chapters 1-6, 10-14 of Campbell (2006). The full reference is: Campbell JB 2006*. Introduction to remote sensing. Fourth Edition. London: Taylor & Francis.*Later versions are preferred.

A copy of this book can be ordered at an additional cost (please concat the short cours manager for orders). A two-hour theory exam on this preparatory reading is scheduled for 14h30 on the fifth day of the course (only for students who have registered for the full course).


Students who register for the full course will write an exam (2 hours in duration) on day 5 of the course. The test will count towards 50% of the final course mark and will contain questions relating to the lectures, exercises and the prescribed reading. One practical assignment will have to be completed within the week following the contact period. The assignment will be a practical task and will count towards 50% of the final course mark.

Students need not be on campus during the assessment period, but need access to a computer loaded with suitable remote sensing software (ENVI).

Course structure & Cost

Option 1: Accredited option @ R8000

The course duration is three weeks and includes a 5-day period during which students attend contact sessions (i.e. lectures and practical exercises). Contact sessions run from 8h30-16h30 daily from Monday to Thursday. An exam is taken on the afternoon of day 5 (Friday). Assignments are completed in the student’s own time (during the week following the contact period) and are submitted electronically.

Option 2: Attend-only option @ R6000

Students who are not interested in being assessed may choose to register for the first 4 days only (i.e. only attend the lectures and exercises and not write the exam or complete any assignments). Students choosing this option will receive a certificate of attendance.

Stellenboch University staff and students are eligible for 20% discount.

For more enquiries, please contact:

Ms Jessica Eichhoff

021 808 3218