GIScience in Research
GEOB 479 (3 credits)
January 2019

Dr. Brian Klinkenberg
Department of Geography
Room 209, Geography

Meeting times and places

Wednesday from 9 - 11 will be held in
Rm 101 in the Geography building
Friday from 10 - 12 will be held in
Geography 115

Course description

This advanced course provides an overview of  how GIScience is used in research, and builds upon the knowledge and skills you will have gained in Geob 370 (Or other introductory GIS courses).  The approach I take in this course is to use research examples drawn from  Landscape Ecology, Crime Analysis, and Health Geography, in order to show you the commonalities found across research areas when addressing spatial aspects.

Using the menu above you can access a course description (the 'syllabus'), as well as the schedule of lectures and labs.

This course will be of interest to those with an interest in GIScience and spatial analysis, and to students and researchers in fields where space is considered an important explanatory element, including landscape ecology, conservation biology, forestry, geography, health, archaeology, planning and criminology.

Course learning objectives

After taking this course you will have a deeper understanding of how spatial analyses is conducted in the environmental and social sciences. In particular, you will have developed an appreciation of the spatial analytical components of:

  • landscape ecology (e.g., scale and hierarchy theory, understanding landscape metrics, linking remote sensing and GIS in vegetation assessment),
  • crime analysis (e.g., point pattern “hot spot” analysis, the use of census data), and
  • health geography (e.g., spatial clustering of health events, case/control issues, Bayesian methods).

Course web page:

Textbook, materials and readings

There is no required textbook for this course since no single text covers the scope of materials being presented in this course. Readings will be given for each set of lecture notes.


You will be using ArcGIS software throughout the course. However, you will also be using some freely-downloadable software in the labs. In Lab 2 you will be using FragStats (, in Lab 4 CrimeStat (

Some general readings

Cromley, E. K. and S. L. McLafferty. 2002. GIS and Public Health. New York, NY. The Guildford Press.

Gatrell, A. and M. Loytonen (eds.) 1998. GIS and Health. Phiadelphia, PA. Taylor and Francis Inc.

Hirschfield, A. and K. Bowers (eds.) 2001. Maping and Analysing Crime Data: Lessons from Research and Practice. New York, NY. Taylor Francis Inc.

Jone, K. and G. Moon. 1987. Health, Disease and Society. New York, NY. Routledge & Kegan Paul Inc. (This covers many of the different perspectives people have towards health, disease and society, not spatial analysis of health.)

Johnston, C. A. 1998. Geographic Information Systems in Ecology. Oxford, UK. Blackwell Science Ltd.

O’Sullivan, D. and D. J. Unwin. 2010. Geographic Information Analysis, 2nd Edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. (Chapter 1: Geographic Information Analysis and Spatial Data is available for preview from the John Wiley web site.)

O’Sullivan, D. and G. L.W. Perry. 2013. Spatial simulation: Exploring pattern and process. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. (In particular, Chapter1: Spatial simulation models: What? Why? How? And Chapter 2: Pattern, process and scale.) Library copy

Turner MG, Gardner RH, O’Neill R V. 2001. Landscape Ecology in Theory and Practice: Pattern and Process. New York, NY, USA: Springer. In particular, Chapter 5: Quantifying Landscape Pattern.) Library copy


Student evaluation in the course will be based on a written examination, completed lab exercises and scientific paper reviews. The examination will cover all material from the lectures and the labs. The final weighting of the course components is as follows:



Tutorials and lab assignments




Paper reviews




Late work policy

In general, submitting lab assignments after the due date is not acceptable for University students. Late lab assignments will be penalized by 10% per partial day. After the 5th day, the work will not be accepted. In extreme cases of personal misfortune this policy can be extended only by special arrangement with the professor. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that they leave sufficient time for saving and uploading their completed lab assignments to the course Dropbox or course website. Not saving or backing up your work is not an excuse for a missing or late assignment, and you will be expected to complete the lab assignment within 5 days of the due date to receive credit for the assignment.

Students should retain a copy of all submitted assignments (in case of loss) and should also retain all their marked assignments in case they wish to apply for a Review of Assigned Standing. Students have the right to view their marked examinations with their instructor, providing they apply to do so within a month of receiving their final grades. This review is for pedagogic purposes. The examination remains the property of the university.

Exam policy

The professor will keep completed exams. Graded exams will be available by appointment in the professor’s office. If your exam leaves the classroom or the professor’s office, your grade will be reduced to zero. Exams are not to be photographed, photocopied, transcribed, or otherwise copied in any way. Students may be asked to show their valid UBC student ID at each exam.

Attendance policy

Regular attendance is expected of students (including lectures and labs). Labs may be completed during lab time, however, if you want help on your lab, you must come to lab time. For classes that are missed, students are responsible for the material covered in class and must complete the lab assignments on their own time. In rare circumstances, extensions on lab assignments may be granted. Students should contact the professor as soon as possible to make arrangements. Students who neglect their academic work and assignments may be excluded from final examinations.

Academic integrity

All students are expected to know, understand, and follow the codes of conduct regarding academic integrity. Instances of cheating, copying work of other students, and plagiarism may result in a mark of zero on the assignment or exam and referral for academic discipline in accordance with University policies.


Access & Diversity UBC determines students’ eligibility for accommodations in accordance with University policy. The types of conditions supported by Access & Diversity include, but are not limited to:

  • Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders or bi-polar disorder
  • Neurological disabilities such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, head injuries and Asperger's syndrome
  • Chronic health conditions including ongoing medical conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, or migraines
  • Physical disabilities, such as visual impairment, hearing loss, or mobility impairments

The professor does not determine academic accommodations, but does consult with Access & Diversity to determine appropriate accommodations for students to achieve the learning objectives of the course.

For more information:

(604) 822 5844


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