Develop your career in GIS and resource management

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 MSc has been developed in direct collaboration with industry, in response to the increased global demand for multi-disciplinary managers, advisors and consultants in resource management. Taught by a dedicated faculty, this course is unique in providing balanced coverage of the key GIS technologies to prepare you for a successful career across the full range of global sectors using geographical information (GI) technologies.

Overview

  • Start dateFull-time: October, part-time: October
  • DurationOne year full-time, two-three years part-time
  • DeliveryTaught modules 40%, group project (dissertation for part-time students) 20%, individual project 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

We welcome students from a variety of backgrounds who have a passion for technology and data, an interest in solving real-world problems and making a positive impact. You will acquire experience of world-class spatial problem solving and develop a range of personal and leadership skills to set you on the path for a rewarding career in any one of the growing range of industrial and research sectors that now routinely make use of the GI technologies.

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 and this course is internationally recognised by employers across the scientific, industrial and educational communities.

Previous students have followed careers in the consulting industry or with government research establishments; whilst others are successfully running their own companies.

Successful graduates have been able to pursue or enhance careers in a variety of key roles such as:

Data Scientist, Academic Researcher, GIS Technician, Geospatial Analyst, GIS officer, Project Development Officer and Remote Sensing Scientist, at organisations such as British Telecom and Cambridgeshire Acre.

Cranfield Careers Service

Cranfield’s Careers Service is dedicated to helping you meet your career aspirations. You will have access to career coaching and advice, CV development, interview practice, access to hundreds of available jobs via our Symplicity platform and opportunities to meet recruiting employers at our careers fairs. We will also work with you to identify suitable opportunities and support you in the job application process for up to three years after graduation.

Cranfield supports international students to work in the UK after graduation

My time at Cranfield prepared me for my current job in a variety of ways. Directly, group projects and working within a team of people who challenge your ideas and viewpoints is infinitely applicable in the work place. Indirectly, the heavy workload prepared me for balancing various projects in the workplace, developing my time management and communication skills.
There are students that are coming up with ideas that I would never have thought of and I know that businesses who we collaborate with would never have thought of. So it’s really important to get idea generation, to get motivations and to get people engaged in what businesses need today.
The assignments have good challenges for each student so we gain more knowledge and information. My group project is tracking precision nutrient management and using different kinds of GIS technology - that case study was in Kenya.

Why this course?

Geographical information management is an exciting and rapidly growing branch of information technology (IT), incorporating and integrating satellite remote sensing, aerial photography and other spatial data, such as soil survey information, to derive reliable and up-to-date information which is essential for the sustainable use or conservation of the earth’s resources. This course will equip you with the skills and knowledge to develop an exciting career helping to address global issues in resource management.

  • Benefit from a thorough training in the technical, analytical and research skills needed for a successful career in this rapidly expanding field.
  • Focus on identifying problems and creating solutions through the selection and integration of appropriate technologies.
  • Develop the essential management skills demanded by employers on our dedicated ‘Management for Technology’ module, delivered by the world-renowned Cranfield School of Management.
  • Learn via a varied combination of lectures, tutorials, real-world case studies and practical sessions led by Cranfield staff and senior visiting lecturers from industry.
  • Undertake individual and group projects, often supported by external companies and focused on your personal interests and career aspirations.
  • Apply the knowledge and skills that you learn on this course to issues such as climate change, improving farming yields, tropical deforestation, transportation, smart navigation systems, disaster response management, recreation, property management and telecommunications.

This MSc is supported by our team of professional thought leaders, including Professor Ronald Corstanje and Professor Jane Rickson who are influential in the field of Environment and an integral part of this MSc.

Informed by industry

The Geographical Information Management MSc designed to meet the current needs of employers and benefits from a strong input from industry experts. This gives our students the confidence to know that what they are learning is both relevant and beneficial to building a rewarding career.

  • The applied GIS and related research our staff undertake is fed back into our GIS teaching programmes, ensuring all students who complete this MSc are equipped with leading edge knowledge and skills.
  • Double accreditation by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and The Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (CICES) ensures that the course has been independently assessed as meeting current professional standards.
  • Employers and partners ensuring that the MSc meets current industry demands for GI specialists include:
  • ERM
  • GIGL
  • WRG
  • WRc PLC
  • Enviros
  • Golder
  • Unilever
  • Neales Waste
  • Natural England
  • National Trust
  • Trucost
  • SLR Consulting
  • FWAG
  • RSPB
  • PA 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

Course details

This course comprises eight 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.  

  

Water course structure diagram

Course delivery

Taught modules 40%, group project (dissertation for part-time students) 20%, individual project 40%

Group project

The group project experience during the course is highly valued by both students and prospective employers. It provides you with the opportunity to take responsibility for a consultancy-type project while working under academic supervision. It also enables you to start building essential industry links and knowledge whilst studying.

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

Recent group projects include:

Individual project

The individual project is either industrially or University driven. You will be able to select the individual project in consultation with the course team and it will provide 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 you the opportunity to work and build links with the types of organisation you will be seeking employment with on successful completion of the course.

Modules

Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.


Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

GIS Fundamentals

Module Leader
  • Tim Brewer
Aim

    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 the courses listed above in other modules and their group and 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 you should be able to:

  • Examine 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 and evaluate data and prepare digital databases using GIS software.
  • Summarise, using maps and tables, the results of GIS based analyses.

Spatial Data Management

Module Leader
  • Professor Stephen Hallett
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 requires a structured approach in their management if the maximum benefit is to be derived from their analysis and dissemination. This module provides you with a solid introduction to the issues concerning the management of spatial information and the tools to do so, with a predominant focus on open source software solutions.


Syllabus
    • Introduction and overview of Spatial Data Management.
    • Database structures – ordered and indexed lists, hierarchical, network, relational, object-oriented, hybrid structures.
    • Metadata – standards and practice, creation, maintenance, distribution and control.
    • Systems analysis and analysis approaches – methods for designing computerised spatial systems.
    • Object Orientation – overview of theory and practice.
    • Data specification formats, interoperability and handling of geographic data.
    • INSPIRE and the Spatial Data Infrastructure.
    • Open Source geospatial database management systems – Postgres/PostGIS and SQL with QGIS.
    • Industry standard database management systems – Oracle and SQL with ESRI ArcGIS.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Design and construct appropriate database structures for GIS analysis using a GeoPackage Geodatabase.
  • Assemble and organise geospatial data within and between a range of database management systems.
  • 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; establishing, using and evaluating protocols for data and metadata management.
  • Apply and appraise the practical approaches required in managing spatial data and evaluate and compare approaches using open source, as well as proprietary industry-standard database systems, data and GIS tools.

Aerial Photography and Digital Photogrammetry

Module Leader
  • Tim Brewer
Aim

    Deriving digital elevation models and ortho imagery is an important application of remote sensing data for many areas of spatial work. This module introduces techniques for the extraction of topographic information from remotely sensed data using digital photogrammetry techniques. Image interpretation is also 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 imagery 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 imagery: geometry, co-ordinate axes, scale, measurement. 
  • Digital photogrammetry.  Digital elevation models.  Structure from Motion.
  • 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 - UAV imagery, scanning existing photography.
  •  


Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Explain the geometry and spectral properties of vertical aerial photographs.
  • Explain the basic principles of digital photogrammetry.
  • Interpret aerial photographs to analyse the physical and human environments.
  • Extract elevation data from stereo pairs.
  • Derive orthophotography from standard frame aerial photography.

Applied Remote Sensing

Module Leader
  • Dr Toby Waine
Aim

    The appropriate application of remote sensing to the monitoring of earth resources requires an understanding of basic physics and imaging technology and the practical use of a wide variety of image processing techniques. This subject introduces the basic radiometric concepts and physical relations and then gives students the practical tools to extract information from digital image data.


Syllabus

    Physical principles

    • Electromagnetic radiation: radiometric units and terms, radiation laws, radiation sources optical, thermal and microwave.
    • Atmospheric interactions and correction.
    • Surface interactions and interpretation of spectral response patterns.
    • Plant, soil and water spectral properties.
    • Image formation and collection
    • 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 and distribution: data suppliers, product levels, internet.

    Image processing and analysis

    • Calibration: DN to radiance, irradiance standards, calibration methods. 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, high-boost, median and directional).
    • Band algebra: Derivation of soil and vegetation indices: ratios, normalised differences, PVI, SBI, tasselled cap concept.
    • 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 non-parametric techniques, clustering, segmentation, pixel and object-based approaches, machine learning and validation (accuracy assessment).

    Post processing, processing chains, change detection, cloud computing and applications.


Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Define the primary physical quantities that are directly related to measured radiance.
  • Discuss the nature of surface and atmospheric interactions with electromagnetic radiation.
  • Describe how satellite images are formed and explain the physical relations underlying the retrieval of satellite measured reflectance, temperature and backscattering coefficients.
  • Analyse the complete remote sensing process from data reception to information extraction, including applying calibration and atmospheric correction methods to image data.
  • Explain a wide range of image processing techniques 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.

Advanced GIS Methods

Module Leader
  • Tim Brewer
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 you 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 Jeroen Meersmans
Aim

    This module covers the importance of 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.
    • Introduction to R – a software environment for statistical computing and graphics – and its use in manipulating and visualising survey data.
    • 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 you should be able to:

  • 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 summarise and present results of a survey for users effectively.

Web Mapping

Module Leader
  • Professor Stephen Hallett
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 web mapping and spatial data on the Internet.


Syllabus
    • Introduction to web mapping, spatial data and the Internet.
    • Principles of and strategies for web site development.
    • Introduction to HTML. Review of Internet mapping technologies and solutions: Google Maps API; ESRI JavaScript API; Open Layers API; Leaflet API; ArcGIS Enterprise Server, ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Server, GeoServer.
    • Introduction to XML/XSLD, GML, JSON/GeoJSON.
    • Proprietary and Open-source toolkits and frameworks (e.g. Dojo).
    • Case study applications of Internet mapping: local authorities, location based services, ‘g-business’.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Appraise contemporary Internet technologies and their application relevant to geographical data dissemination.
  • Apply HTML and CSS to develop web frameworks, drawing on templates as required, demonstrating the application of JavaScript, and the use of mapping Application
  • Evaluate emergent Internet GIS standards and data transfer strategies and formats (e.g. GML; XML; JSON/GeoJSON).
  • Prepare an internet mapping website, and appraise the utility and use of proprietary versus open source contemporary internet mapping technologies (e.g. ESRI ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Server, ESRI JavaScript API, Google Maps API, Geoserver, Open Layers API, Leaflet API etc).
  • Evaluate and compare leading proprietary and open source data server technologies (e.g. GeoServer, ESRI ArcGIS Server, ESRI ArcGIS Online, Oracle, Postgres/PostGIS) and examine and debate a selection of real-world internet mapping projects, examples and case studies.


Accreditation

The MSc in Geographical Information Management is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors.

Accreditation provides you with the assurance that the course has been independently assessed as meeting professional standards.

RICS accredited course logo

ICES accreditation logo

How to apply

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.