This MSc is unique in providing a balanced coverage of the key GIS technologies. The course has been developed in collaboration with industry, in response to the increased demand globally for multi-disciplinary managers, advisors and consultants in resource management.

geographical

At a glance

  • Start dateFull-time: October. Part-time: throughout the year
  • DurationOne year full-time, two-three years part-time
  • DeliveryTaught modules 40%, Group projects (dissertation for part-time students) 20%, Individual project 40%.
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time

Who is it for?

Our aim is to prepare you, whether coming from university or industry, for a challenging career in one of the growing range of industrial and research sectors that now routinely make use of the GI technologies. To enable this you will need to develop specialist skills, acquire experience of spatial problem solving and develop a range of personal skills. To help you achieve this taught courses involve a varied selection of case study work, tutorials and lectures led by centre staff and senior visiting lecturers from industry. 

Why this course?

Geographical information management is an exciting and rapidly growing branch of information technology (IT) incorporating satellite remote sensing, aerial photography and other spatial data such as soil survey information, to derive information which is essential for the management of the earth's resources. A suite of technologies exist that can be applied at local, national and global levels to issues such as climate change, improving farming yields, tropical deforestation, transportation, smart navigation systems, disaster response management, recreation, property management and telecommunications.

Sustainable use or conservation of the earth's resources requires the organisation, exploitation and integration of technologies such as database management, image processing and digital cartography, to ensure provision of high quality, reliable and up-to-date information. The Geographical Information Management programme has been developed in collaboration with industry, in response to the increased demand globally for multi-disciplinary managers, advisors and consultants in resource management.

The course is an exciting combination of rigorous academic, technical and practical training. It provides a thorough training in technical, analytical and research skills needed for a career in this expanding field. Throughout the programme students focus on identifying problems and creating solutions through selection and integration of the appropriate technologies.

Informed by Industry

Our courses are designed to meet the training needs of industry and have a strong input from experts in their sector. These include:

  • P A Consulting
  • Joint Research Centre, Ispra
  • Adas
  • Cresswell Associates
  • Chartered Institute of Waste Management
  • Geospatial Insight
  • Oakdene Hollins
  • Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Management
  • Health Protection Agency
  • Highview Power Storage
  • Nomura Code Securities
  • Astrium Geo-information Services
  • Environment Agency
  • Landscape Science Consultancy
  • ERM
  • GIGL
  • WRG
  • WRc PLC
  • Enviros
  • Golder
  • Unilever
  • Neales Waste
  • Natural England
  • National Trust
  • Trucost
  • SLR Consulting
  • FWAG
  • RSPB

Your teaching team

The course is taught by members of research and academic staff and industrial representatives:


Accreditation

The MSc in Geographical Information Management is an accredited course within the RICS -Cranfield University Partnership.


Course details

This course comprises 8 modules, a group project and an individual project. Courses are not isolated from the real world and many are supported by research groups working on cutting-edge programmes.  


This programme includes an individual research thesis which provides an opportunity to study a problem in some detail, whilst some of the courses also include a group design project allowing the realism of industrial projects to be introduced. Additionally, the taught component of the programme is supported by visits and seminars. The individual modules are linked through case studies and practical work so that different aspects of the geographical information technologies are integrated.  

Group project

The group project experience during the course is highly valued by both students and prospective employers. It provides students with the opportunity to take responsibility for a consultancy-type project while working under academic supervision.

The project involves the application and integration of component technologies:

  • GIS
  • GPS and remote sensing
  • field methods, and statistical analysis to produce quality-assured innovative solutions.

Individual project

The individual project is either industrially or University driven. Students select the individual project in consultation with the course team. It provides the opportunity to demonstrate independent research ability, the ability to think and work in an original way, contribute to knowledge, and overcome genuine problems in relation to the management of the earth's resources. It also offers students the opportunity to work with the types of organisation they will be seeking employment with on successful completion of the course.

Assessment

Taught modules 40%, Group projects (dissertation for part-time students) 20%, Individual project 40%.

Core modules

Aerial Photography and Digital Photogrammetry

Module Leader
  • Brewer, Mr Tim T.R.
Aim

    Deriving digital elevation models and orthoimagery is an important application of remote sensing data. This subject introduces techniques for the extraction of topographic information from remotely sensed data using softcopy photogrammetry techniques. Image interpretation is a vital skill required in many image based mapping projects. The concepts and techniques of image interpretation will be introduced and practised.

Syllabus
    • Topographic maps and remote sensing images: map scale and content, image sources and interpretation methods, accuracy issues
    • Aerial photography in the context of other remote sensing systems. Physics of light: principles of recording the image. Stereoscopy and parallax. Geometry: scale variation, relief displacement, tilts
    • Geometry of vertical aerial photographs: geometry, co-ordinate axes, scale, measurement
    • Softcopy photogrammetry.  Digital elevation models
    • Satellite photogrammetry
    • Air photo mosaics and orthophotos
    • Interpretation: principles and factors. Applied interpretation: geology, geomorphology, vegetation, soils, urban structures. Flight planning. API project management and implementation
    • Recent developments - digital aerial photographs, scanning existing photography.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Explain the geometry and spectral properties of vertical aerial photographs
  • Explain the basic principles of softcopy photogrammetry
  • Use aerial photographs in the interpretation of the physical and human environments
  • Extract elevation data from stereo pairs
  • Derive orthophotography from standard frame aerial photography.

GIS Fundamentals

Module Leader
  • Brewer, Mr Tim T.R.
Aim

    Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is an important technology for handling geographic data and has wide application for studies of the environment. GIS is used widely by students in other modules and their personal projects, and therefore this module provides the opportunity to develop GIS skills that will be of use within a student's course and in later employment.

Syllabus
    • GIS theory: data structures; data formats; data storage; data standards; spatial and non-spatial data; spatial querying; analysis techniques – reclassification, overlay, proximity, mensuration, visualisation, map algebra; hardware and software; system specification; projections; datums; spheriods
    • ArcGIS: overview of ArcGIS, ArcMap, ArcCatalog; ArcToolbox, Spatial Analyst.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Describe the functional components of a GIS
  • Define system specifications including projections, data and process modelling
  • Organise, using appropriate data structures, geographic data within a GIS
  • Analyse data and prepare digital databases using GIS software
  • Summarise, using maps and tables, the results of GIS based analyses.

Spatial Data Management

Module Leader
  • Hallett, Dr Stephen S.H.
Aim
    Geographical information is now increasingly prevalent in our daily life, affecting personal leisure activities as much as the workplace. Geographical information represents a key theme in environmental management and it has been estimated that some 80% of the data used for environmental, business and policy-oriented decision making is geographical in nature. Such spatial data require a structured approach in their management if the maximum benefit is to be derived from their analysis and dissemination. This module provides a solid introduction to the issues concerning the management of spatial information.
Syllabus
    • Introduction and overview of Spatial Data Management
    • Database structures – ordered and indexed lists, hierarchical, network, relational, object oriented, hybrid structure
    • Metadata – standards and practice, creation, maintenance, distribution and control
    • Systems analysis and analysis approaches – methods for designing computerised spatial systems
    • Object orientation – theory and practice
    • Data specification formats, interoperability and handling of geographic data
    • INSPIRE and the Spatial Data Infrastructure
    • Industry standard database management systems – Oracle and SQL
    • Open Source geospatial database management systems – Postgres/PostGIS and SQL.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Design and construct appropriate database structures for GIS analysis using a Geodatabase;
  • Assemble and organise geospatial data within and between a range of database management systems;
  • Understand and critically appraise the application of systems analysis methodologies to spatial data;
  • Examine the role of the INSPIRE Directive for driving interoperability between spatial data infrastructures;
  • Establish, use and evaluate protocols for data and metadata management;
  • Apply and appraise the practical approaches required in managing spatial data. Evaluate and compare approaches using proprietary and open source industry-standard database systems, data and GIS tools.

Image Processing and Analysis

Module Leader
  • Dr Toby Waine
Aim

    Image processing and analysis is one of the fundamental tools of applied remote sensing. It is the means by which information can be extracted from raw digital data to produce and manipulate images from airborne and space sensors.

Syllabus
    • Principles of optical and radar image formation, image characteristics, statistics and visualisation. Sensors and platforms.
    • Radiometric, spectral and spatial image enhancement. Contrast stretching (linear, bilinear, gaussian, histogram equalisation and manual), digital filtering in the spatial domain (low-pass, high-pass, highboost, median and directional).
    • Geometric correction: map projections, selection of ground control points, transform equations, resampling methods (nearest neighbour, bilinear interpolation, cubic convolution).
    • Supervised and unsupervised image classification: parametric and nonparametric techniques, clustering, segmentation, pixel and object based approaches and validation (accuracy assessment).
    • Post processing, processing chains, change detection and applications.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

  • Identify a wide range of image processing techniques
  • Explain the purpose of each process and the underlying mathematical principles
  • Select appropriate image processing sequences to achieve predetermined objectives
  • Operate and manage an image processing system
  • Integrate image processing techniques into applications of remote sensing.

Physical Principles of Remote Sensing

Module Leader
  • Waine, Dr Toby T.W.
Aim

    The appropriate application of remote sensing to the monitoring of earth resources requires an understanding of basic physics and imaging technology. This subject introduces the basic radiometric concepts and physical relations required for remotely sensed data to be analysed quantitatively.

Syllabus
    • Introduction to the physical principles remote sensing
    • Electromagnetic radiation: radiometric units and terms, radiation laws, radiation sources optical, thermal and microwave
    • Surface interactions
    • Plant, soil and water spectral properties
    • Atmospheric interactions and correction
    • Image formation: passive systems (detectors, opto-mechanical line scanners, waveband separation, linear and area arrays) and active systems (Lidar, RAR and SAR concepts)
    • Spatial resolution and geometry
    • Orbits and platforms
    • Review of satellite and airborne systems
    • Data reception: data transfer rates, telemetry, ground segment
    • Data distribution: data suppliers, product levels, internet
    • Calibration: DN to radiance, irradiance standards, calibration methods
    • Interpretation of spectral response patterns
    • Derivation of soil and vegetation indices: ratios, normalised differences, PVI, SBI, tunnelled cap concept. Applications of vegetation indices.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

  • List the primary physical quantities that are directly related to measured radiance
  • Define the basic radiation quantities
  • Explain the nature of surface and atmospheric interactions with electromagnetic radiation
  • List the major types of detectors and describe how satellite images are formed
  • Describe the complete remote sensing process from data reception to information extraction
  • Apply calibration and atmospheric correction methods to image data
  • Explain the physical relations underlying the retrieval of satellite measured reflectance, temperature and backscattering coefficients.

Advanced GIS Methods

Module Leader
  • Brewer, Mr Tim T.R.
Aim
    GIS analyses are based upon increasingly sophisticated methods, but the results are subject to both error and uncertainty. A range of advanced methods are introduced that will have potential use to students in their group and thesis projects and their future careers. Emphasis will be given to the role of GIS in modelling environmental systems and the programming tools available to develop applications.
Syllabus
    • Spatial analysis: multi criteria analysis, hydrological modelling, digital terrain modelling, network analysis, linear referencing
    • Python scripting concepts
    • The Python editor in ArcGIS and as a standalone program
    • Python syntax
    • Scripting procedures.
    • Variables, constants and data types.
    • Writing simple scripts.
    • Error handling.
    • Processing files.
    • The object model in GIS.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Assess the quality of geographic data;
  • Undertake advanced spatial analyses;
  • Analyse the requirements of a proposed application and synthesise an appropriate solution;
  • Develop scripts to efficiently run complex/time consuming processes.

Environmental Resource Survey

Module Leader
  • Dr Timothy Farewell
Aim

    Environmental resource surveys are required to obtain the data used in environmental information management.

Syllabus
    • Introduction to geographical resource survey. Why, when, where and how? Understanding constraints
    • Survey strategies for environmental resources: census with thematic mapping, ground sampling, sampling with property mapping, integrated ground sampling and property mapping
    • Development of classification schemes – user requirements, data availability, class definitions
    • Sampling and rapid estimates for plant communities, water and soil quality – biomass, cover and species assessment, count plot methods, plotless sample technique, soil and water survey techniques
    • Assessment of existing data quality and use in survey design
    • Statistical design and analysis for environmental resource surveys: area frames, point samples, bulk samples, area samples, sampling at global scales, multi-scale sampling
    • Quality assessment of environmental data – accuracy measures, effect of bias, quality measures and statistics, error and uncertainty sources and measures
    • Introduction to interpolation methods, generating maps from point survey data
    • Integration data sources and types (data fusion) and statistical models with survey data (model data fusion) to increase survey cost effectiveness
    • Review of example surveys.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • To identify the objective of a survey of the environment;
  • To determine the appropriate survey method to undertake an assessment of environmental resources;
  • To evaluate existing information and models which complement the survey method;
  • To design and conduct field surveys for data collection and verification;
  • To select and carry out appropriate modelling and statistical analyses;
  • To assess the accuracy of results;
  • To summarise and present results of a survey for users effectively.

Spatial Data and the Internet

Module Leader
  • Hallett, Dr Stephen S.H.
Aim
    Geographical information is now increasingly prevalent in our daily life, affecting personal leisure activities as much as the workplace. Geographical information represents a key theme in environmental management and, indeed, it has been estimated that some 80% of the data used for environmental, business and policy-oriented decision making is geographical in nature. This poses particular challenges to its efficient and timely dissemination to stakeholders and potential end users. Today, the Internet offers a pervasive medium for real-time delivery of geographical information and location-based web services, across a range of computing platforms. Such approaches offer extremely powerful means to reach out to a broad audience of users, particularly those who do not necessarily have the required skills to access or operate specialist GIS software packages. Web mapping offers a means to ‘democratise’ geospatial data – but with a wealth of technical approaches available to develop contemporary web data services and mapping solutions, there needs to be a sound understanding of these choices and approaches if the maximum benefit is to be derived from their analysis and dissemination online. This module provides a solid introduction to the issues concerning the management and dissemination of spatial data on the Internet.
Syllabus
    • Introduction to spatial data and the Internet
    • Principles of web site development
    • Introduction to HTML
    • Review of Internet mapping technologies and solutions: Google Maps/Earth API; ESRI JavaScript and Flex API; Open Layers API; ArcGIS for Server
    • Introduction to XML/XSLT, GeoJSON
    • Proprietary and Open-source toolkits
    • Case study applications of Internet mapping: local authorities, location based services, ‘g-business’.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Appraisal of contemporary Internet technologies and their application relevant to geographical data dissemination.
  • Ability to apply HTML and CSS to develop web frameworks.
  • Demonstrate the application of JavaScript, and the use of mapping
  • Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
  • Evaluate of emergent Internet GIS standards and data transfer formats (e.g. GML; XML; GeoJSON).
  • Construct, manage and publish a web site demonstrating spatial technologies.
  • Prepare an Internet mapping web site, and appraise the utility and use of proprietary versus open source contemporary Internet mapping technologies (e.g. ESRI ArcGIS for Server, ESRI JavaScript API, Open Layers API, Leaflet API, MapBox etc.).
  • Evaluate and compare leading proprietary and open source data server technologies (e.g. GeoServer; ESRI ArcSDE; ArcGIS for Server; PostGIS).
  • Examine and debate a selection of real-world internet mapping projects, examples and case studies.

Fees and funding

European Union students applying for university places in the 2017 to 2018 academic year will still have access to student funding support.

Please see the UK Government’s Department of Education press release for more information

Cranfield University welcomes applications from students from all over the world for our postgraduate programmes. The Home/EU student fees listed continue to apply to EU students.

MSc Full-time £7,800
MSc Part-time £1,500 *
PgDip Full-time £6,000
PgDip Part-time £1,500 *
PgCert Full-time £3,000
PgCert Part-time £1,500 *
  • * The annual registration fee is quoted above and will be invoiced annually. An additional fee of £1,230 per module is also payable on receipt of invoice. 
  • ** Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or in a maximum of two payments per year; first instalment on receipt of invoice and the second instalment six months later.  

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

MSc Full-time £17,500
MSc Part-time £17,500 **
PgDip Full-time £14,500
PgDip Part-time £14,500 **
PgCert Full-time £10,380
PgCert Part-time £7,000 **
  • * The annual registration fee is quoted above and will be invoiced annually. An additional fee of £1,230 per module is also payable on receipt of invoice. 
  • ** Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or in a maximum of two payments per year; first instalment on receipt of invoice and the second instalment six months later.  

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

Funding Opportunities

To help students in finding and securing appropriate funding we have created a funding finder where you can search for suitable sources of funding by filtering the results to suit your needs. Visit the funding finder.

Prestige Scholarship

The Prestige Scholarship provides funding of up to £11,000 to cover up to £9k fees and a potential contribution to living expenses. This scholarship has been designed to attract exceptional candidates to Cranfield University so we welcome applications from UK or EU graduates with a first-class honours undergraduate degree. Prestige Scholarships are available for all MSc courses in the Water, Energy and Environment themes.

Merit MSc Bursary

The Merit MSc Bursary provides funding of up to £5,000 towards tuition fees. Applicants should be UK or EU graduates with a first class honours, 2:1 honours or in exceptional circumstances 2:2 honours undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. Merit MSc Bursaries are available for all MSc courses in the Water, Energy and Environment themes.

International MSc Bursary

The International MSc Bursary provides funding of up to £5,000 towards tuition fees. Applicants should be from outside the EU with a first class honours or upper second class honours undergraduate degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. International MSc Bursaries are available for all MSc courses in the Water, Energy and Environment themes.

Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS)

The Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS) is a funding programme providing affordable tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time UK/EU students studying technology-based MSc courses.

Opportunity Peterborough Bursary

The Opportunity Peterborough bursary offers £7,000 towards the costs of studying a MSc course in Environmental Data Science, or in Geographical Information Management at Cranfield.

Conacyt (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia)

Cranfield offers competitive scholarships for Mexican students in conjunction with Conacyt (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia) in science, technology and engineering.

Delta Foundation Chevening Scholarships Taiwan

The Chevening/Delta Environmental Scholarship Scheme is designed to promote environmental awareness and increase future activity to tackle environmental issues, in particular climate change, by offering two joint scholarships for students from Taiwan.


Entry requirements

A first or second class UK Honours degree in a relevant science, engineering or related discipline; or the international equivalent of these UK qualifications. Other relevant qualifications, together with significant experience, may be considered.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

IELTS - 6.5

TOEFL - 92 

Pearson PTE Academic - 65

Cambridge English Scale - 180

Cambridge English: Advanced - C

Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.


Your career

Successful students develop diverse and rewarding careers in the spatial information industry, national and local government, consultancies, utilities and research organisations. The international nature of this course means that career opportunities are not restricted to the UK. Cranfield graduates develop careers around the world. Recent data shows that 90% of our graduates find employment within the geographic information sector or academic research.

Cranfield is the leading British University in terms of income generated from industrially and commercially-funded research. The applied GIS and related research our staff undertake is fed back into our GIS teaching programmes, thereby ensuring all students who complete the Geographical Information Management programme are equipped at the leading edge. The courses offered are internationally recognised by employers across the scientific, industrial and educational communities.

Previous students have entered many forms of employment. Graduates follow careers in the consulting industry or with government research establishments. Others go on to join university research and teaching departments. Some are successfully running their own companies.

Applying

Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at this time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

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