Introduction to GIS 2019-07-18T09:05:11+02:00

Introduction to GIS

This introductory course is aimed at GIS beginners who require instruction in the basic theoretical and practical functionality of GIS.

Themes covered in the course include:

  • An introductory overview of GIS in the context of geo-information   science; the nature of geographical data
  • GIS data models
  • GIS processes such as the capture, storage, editing, manipulation and   analysis of spatial data
  • Map projection and coordinate systems
  • Map production: map design and cartographical visualisation with a GIS
  • Spatial analysis and modelling

Upon completion, participants will understand the basic principles of spatial data, cartography, map projections, data models, and other entry-level GIS concepts and will have applied these in ArcGIS.

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.


Learning hours*

Unit Standard Link

Context of GI Science 40 View Unit
The basic principles of spatial data 15 View Unit
Map projections 5 View Unit
Spatial and hybrid queries 10
Data capture from secondary data sources 10 View Unit
GPS 5 View Unit

* The number of learning hours associated with each of these unit standards within this course.


Students who complete the full course will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a generic understanding of what GIS is.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the specialist knowledge needed to   build a proper GI system.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how GIS can be used in different   industries.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the functionality available from a GIS.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of models of the real world.
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the vector data model.
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the raster data model.
  • Understand the concept of attribute extractions from real world entities.
  • Explain components of a reference system.
  • Identify an appropriate map projection for a specific task.
  • Convert from one projection and or reference system to another.
  • Include fundamental elements on a new map.
  • Include symbology reference on the map.
  • Create and execute a simple vector spatial query under supervision.
  • Create and execute a simple raster spatial query under supervision.

Prescribed reading

In preparation for the course, participants will be expected to read Chapters 1-9 of Chang (2019). The full reference is:

Chang, K., 2019: Introduction to geographic information systems. 9th ed. McGraw Hill.

A copy of this book can be ordered at an additional cost (please contact the short course manager for availability and costing). 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. Two assignments will have to be completed within the week following the contact period. The first assignment will be an essay on a prescribed topic (to be announced on day 5 of the course) and will count towards 20% of the final course mark. The second assignment will be a practical task and will count towards 30% of the final course mark.

Students need not be on campus during the assessment period, but need access to a computer loaded with ArcGIS 10 software. The ArcGIS 10 Student Edition Licence (valid for one year) can be supplied at an additional cost (please contact the short course manager for availability and costing).

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.

Option2: 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.


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

For more enquiries, please contact:

Ms Jessica Eichhoff

021 808 3218