GEOB 270 Introduction to Geographic Information Science (GISc)

Course Description

  • Where do the maps and satellite images come from in web mapping applications such as GoogleMaps? How is your house address located, and how is the shortest route between two places determined given complex cities involving bridges and one way streets?
  • How do wind energy companies find the best sites for their towers with respect to wind speeds, terrain conducive to erecting the towers, accessibility to the towers, and interference with bird migration pathways?
  • How did the Canadian and BC Environmental Assessment Agencies assess the site of Whistler Olympic park in the Callaghan Valley for its impact on wildlife, plants, archeology, and water, thereby minimizing the olympic venue's overall ecological footprint on the valley?

Geographic Information Systems (GISs) are used in these applications, and many others, where geographic data is accessed, queried, analyzed and displayed. Geographic Information Science (GISci) is the academic theory behind the development and use of GIS technology. Through lectures and associated labs, you will learn the GISci theory and apply this knowledge to real life scenarios using GIS technology thereby giving you an understanding of how GIS can be used to help understand, visualize and solve geographic problems.

This course is the first of many other geomatics courses in Geography. Other courses include advanced GIS (GEOB 370/470); Cartography (GEOB 372/472), Remote Sensing (GEOB 373) and Statistics (GEOG 374).

Many jobs in geography, such as urban planning and environmental consulting require knowledge of GIS.


  This course has undergone revisions (2009) as part of a UBC project aimed at improving undergraduate education. This work has been implemented in collaboration with Joshua Caulkins, a Science Teaching and Learning Fellow with the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative here at UBC. Jose Aparicio (UBC geography), and Don Boyes (UofT geography) have also provided input to these revisions.


Updated September 7, 2009