• Starting dates next intakes: Twice a year (March and October)
  • Where to meet UNIGIS: GI-Forum, Salzburg

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Core Modules

1 Module: Introduction to Geoinformatics

This introductory module has a special position as a first study component of the curriculum. It provides orientation and sets the frame for working with the subsequent modules. Specifically, it supports the development of a personal style working with the distance-learning materials. In addition to these objectives regarding the study format, the following domain-related content is offered:

  • Terminology and functional characteristics of geographical information systems.
  • Typical applications of geographical information processing.
  • Current trends in geoinformatics.
  • Overview of secondary information resources for GIS in the sense of lifelong learning.
  • Practical training to use professional GIS software.
  • Competent use of coordinate systems and projections in the practical work of GIS.


Graduates of this module...

  • understand the added value of the spatial dimension as an integrating reference framework,
  • have an overview of basic components of typical GIS projects and can appreciate GIS functionalities in this broader context,
  • have an overview of the main fields of application of GIS, broadly outline its development and anticipate both current trends and future market potential. The latter facilitates also the effective evaluation of priorities for designing individual learning pathways,
  • can answer simple, practical problems, which include a spatial component, by means of professional GIS software,
  • know the basic challenges of spatial referencing and are capable of integrating spatial data of different geodetic data and projections into a single spatial reference system,
  • have acquired the knowledge to compare and evaluate reference systems in terms of their suitability for a specific application.


2 Module: Data Modelling and Data Structures

This module provides a profound overview of common data structures and models of geographic information systems. It explores how the real world around us can be mapped in all its complexity clearly with comprehensible data models and structures. Specific module contents include:

  • Modelling spatial information.
  • Spatial models - data models - data structures.
  • Vector model.
  • Raster models (grid).
  • Representation of surfaces.
  • Multidimensional spatial data models.
  • Object-oriented data models.
  • Data modelling with UML.
  • Introduction to mark-up languages (XML, GML).


Graduates of the module...

  • have a profound overview of common data structures in GIS software,
  • can effectively compare and evaluate geodata structures based on their requirements and characteristics,
  • are able to identify adequate spatial data structures for a specific problem or project,
  • are aware of the vagueness of day-to-day terminology in describing spatial relations and recognise the necessity of formal logical data models as in GIS,
  • understand the approach, structure and use of markup languages,
  • can verify XML instances regarding their syntax and can validate them against XML schemas,
  • can interpret GML schema files and create simple GML files.


3 Module: Data Sources and Data Acquisition

The third module applies to the aspects of the 'population' of spatial data structures with real-world information. It gives an overview of the diversity of primary and secondary acquisition methods. It thereby creates insight in the genesis and the related suitability for use of spatial data for specific use cases. A substantial part of the access record and listing of important digital resources as well as the development of geographic information by standards-compliant documentation. It will also focus on the management of GI projects. Specific module contents include:

  • Identification of required data bases from the application and user perspective.
  • National and global spatial data sources, open government data, spatial data infrastructures, data catalogues, INSPIRE.
  • Primary collection methods: surveying, photogrammetry, laser scanning, GPS, remote sensing.
  • Secondary acquisition methods: scanning, digitizing, vectorising.
  • Raster to vector conversion, conversion strategies - Indirect position data. geocoding.
  • Data transfer: Norms and standards, sources of spatial data, format transformations.
  • Metadata, metadata standards.
  • Data quality and cost.
  • Legal issues, copyright, and open licenses.


Graduates of the module...

  • know the most important sources of national and international digital geospatial data and can use them for their practical work,
  • know the most common methods for primary and secondary data acquisition, understand their basic functioning, and thus can plan and conduct data acquisition campaigns,
  • have the skills to collect and process spatial data, including image analysis of remote sensing data, geocoding of address, automatised digitizing of analogue sources, creation of 3D models and format transformations,
  • are aware of the importance of data documentation and familiar with the appropriate metadata standards,
  • know strategies for the development of and dealing with topologically correct spatial data bases.


4 Module: Project management and GIS Organisation

The success of geographic information systems in practice is connected to projects with the aim to introduce, extend, or apply GI solutions in an institution. A profound knowledge in the area of project management and organisation thus is an increasingly important competence of GI experts. This module describes the principles and methods of modern project management. Specific module contents include:

  • Project definition and organisation.
  • Project planning (objectives, schedules, project phases, organisational structures).
  • Project framework (logical framework approach).
  • Project controlling.
  • Quality and innovation management.
  • GIS in organisations (planning, procurement, operation) with conventional and spatial SQL front end.


Graduates of the module...

  • know the key methods and tools in project management, and can apply project manuals as a central project management tool in practice,
  • know common roles in a project and can take in particular the role of project leader him- / herself,
  • can plan, implement and manage geoinformatics projects in institutions,
  • use project-specific quality and innovation management to the promotion of creative potential.


5 Module: Geo-database management

In this module, the theoretical foundations of conventional database systems are introduced. On this basis, the knowledge is transferred to spatial data management and geo-database systems. Specific module content includes:

  • Architecture of database management systems.
  • Relational data modelling.
  • Normalisation.
  • Solid basics of the SQL query language as a universal language for data definition, data control and data management.
  • Glossary of terms relating to geographic data base systems.
  • Spatial models in DBMS.
  • Spatial indexing.


Graduates of the module...

  • can evaluate the range of database systems for managing geographical data and contrast them with other forms of data storage,
  • know the typical phases of the data modelling process and can automatically perform this process on the basis of simple, practical application scenarios,
  • can check existing ER models on efficiency and consistency, as well as develop ER diagrams for their own use cases,
  • can design simple databases, including a graphical representation of the data model and defining types for attribute and spatial data,
  • can perform and optimise database queries using SQL statements. This applies to attribute queries as well as to simple spatial queries,
  • understand the use of geo-databases in conjunction with geographic information systems.


6 Module: OpenGIS and Distributed GI Infrastructures

Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) consists of technology, standards, guidelines and legal aspects, and human resources. This module introduces the key standards specified by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and shows the role of these standards for achieving interoperability in the context of Spatial Data Infrastructures. Specific module content includes:

  • Specific interoperability issues.
  • Overview of standards, OpenGIS and distributed architectures.
  • Concepts, models and interfaces related to OpenGIS (e.g.: XML, geography markup language (GML), Web Map Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), metadata and catalogue services).
  • Design of strategic geographical information projects - Spatial Data Infrastructures.
  • Metadata and data catalogues.


Graduates of the module...

  • understand relevant Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards,
  • are able to use web services published in the framework of a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) to solve a user-defined problem,
  • design and implement spatial data models for a data infrastructure,
  • publish standard compliant geographic web services with corresponding metadata.


7 Module: Spatial Analysis

Spatial analysis methods are a central feature of all geographic information systems. This core area of geoinformatics aims at a transfer of domain issues towards an adequate use of analytical methods and tools of the geoinformatics, by adequate problem structuring and conceptualisation. This module introduces the fundamental methods and techniques of geographical analysis. Specific module contents include:

  • Horizontal techniques (neighbourhood analysis, distance functions, filter, interpolation, diffusion).
  • Vertical multi-thematic integration (intersection, assessment, multi-criteria method).
  • Grid analysis and map Algebra: local, focal and zonal operators.
  • Cost surfaces.
  • Terrain analysis (slope, exposure, exposure, visibility).
  • Multivariate classification and regionalisation.
  • Understanding of the formation of dynamic models and simulation.
  • Route optimisation and allocation in networks.


Graduates of the module...

  • can identify the potential and limitations of spatial analysis to capture relationships and trends in spatial data and to support spatial decision-making processes,
  • have a wide repertoire of analytical methods and techniques, and can evaluate their suitability for a particular purpose,
  • are able to generate decision-relevant information for complex, real-world problems, by analysing the problem, dissecting it into methodically manageable sub-tasks for analysis with GIS software,
  • know the advantages of graphical modelling tools for structuring extensive analysis procedures,
  • can assess the role and influence of alternative data models to the result of an analysis method and can analyse data irrespective underlying data models,
  • know a wide set of appropriate analytical methods and techniques for the generation of decision-relevant information in complex problems.



8 Module: Spatial Statistics

This module reviews and reinforces fundamental concepts and techniques of spatial statistics. On this basis, the principle of Spatial autocorrelation as a basis for understanding the specifics of spatial statistics will be presented and the main methods of spatial statistics discussed. Specific module content includes:

  • Comparison between non-spatial and spatial statistics.
  • Specifications and terms of spatial statistics, in particular Spatial autocorrelation and spatial variability.
  • Point pattern analysis.
  • Geographically weighted regression.
  • Exploratory spatial data analysis.
  • Deterministic interpolation.
  • Probabilistic interpolation (kriging, spatial statistics).
  • Validation of interpolation results.


Graduates of the module...

  • can apply basic non-spatial statistics methods in a differentiated and meaningful way,
  • can independently develop solutions for spatial and statistical problems,
  • can apply spatial statistical methods by means of common statistical and GIS software.


9 Module: Visualisation and Cartography

Knowledge on the visual communication of spatial issues is essential, because virtually every GI professional actively designs maps. This module aims at professionals from different domains to take advantage of cartographic data processing for their respective tasks. Specific module content relate to conventional as well as digital publication forms (Web mapping, mobile mapping), including:

  • Cartographic application fields and paradigms.
  • Cartographic design process.
  • Generalisation and classification.
  • Perception of forms and Visual Variables.
  • Colour models and colour use (including consideration of colour visual deficiency).
  • Development of map symbols and interaction.
  • Map annotation and text.
  • Thematic maps, diagrams and diagram maps.
  • Map design and layout.
  • Reproduction and digital output formats.
  • 2. 5D / 3D visualisation.
  • Web mapping technologies and APIs.
  • Dynamic visualisation.


Graduates of the module...

  • can apply cartographic data representation methods efficiently and profitably in various project phases, from data exploration to the presentation of results and data analysis,
  • can develop media- and purpose-oriented visualisation of spatial data that are appropriate to the respective target audience. Resulting maps take into account data inherent characteristics (level of data, data distribution, standardisation), perception-psychological conditions (gestalt perception, colour), as well as (carto-)graphic conventions,
  • can draw on classical cartographic concepts such as generalisation or classification as well as use newer visualisation techniques such as 3D visualisation and animation,
  • are capable of critically reflecting on cartographic products, identifying room for improvement and contributing substantially in the discourse on cartographic work.



Module Overview

UNIGIS MSc Documents