NRSC 2230 / GEOG 2750

Course Description


Welcome to “NRSC 2230 / GEOG 2750 Geographic Information Systems (GIS)”. This 4 credit course is an introduction to basic concepts and applications of geographic information systems. The major topics are: spatial analysis systems; applications of GIS on microcomputers to natural resource systems; spatial data entry; data compilation; and map output.  It is designed to facilitate the acquisition of basic GIS operation skills and to provide a sound understanding of the general principles that underlie the efficient and effective use of the system.


NRSC 2230 / GEOG 2750 is a technology-focused course that is designed to improve your technical skills using Arc GIS Desktop.  It will also help you gain a basic understanding of the issues related to all Information Systems in general and Geographic Information systems in particular. The course will present a mix of learning methods including hands-on exercises, internet searches, lectures and internet discussions.  It will examine all aspects of the system namely, data entry, data management, data analysis and data output.
The course will emphasize the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills by having you work on real-world and/or simulated real-world problems.  You are encouraged to bring forth any problems you may think would be useful in advancing the collective GIS expertise of the class.
TRU’s Natural Resource Science Department will try to utilize its in-house expertise and incorporate guest lectures wherever possible.  Guest lectures may cover some of the topics listed below:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment Monitoring
  • Forestry and Ethnobotany
  • Archaeological Impact Assessment Monitoring
  • Documentation of fish species, fish habitat and fish habitat assessment
  • Data collection, processing, storage and production

Independent projects will utilize the skills and knowledge gained throughout the course to complete a final project.


This course is intended to be a collaborative exercise in which the students and the instructor share information and knowledge through the use of inter-linked personal Weblogs.

Course Materials

There is no required textbook for this course.  You will use a lab manual / instructions for your practical work.  You will also be required to perform topic-related searches on the internet.

Technology Used

The ESRI ArcView 3.2a and ArcGIS 10 are the main software packages used for instruction.  You will use your TRU computer network account to access the H: drive and the S: drive.  The former will host the data for the course, the latter will provide space on which you will submit your assignments. These access issues will be dealt with on the first day of the course.

Note:  Please inform the instructor if you have not been granted access to these drives.

Additional Resources

Students are required to refer to and use information provided on this Blog page as it is updated throughout the course and it may direct you to other sources, especially websites.  For example, you may be directed to a website to retrieve a digital map.  The “Announcements” page will provide updates / information on class requirements etc.  The “Quiz / Assignment” page provides information on quiz / assignment requirements.

Online Discussions (Postings)

Throughout the course, you will participate in online discussions on a variety of topics. The purpose of these online discussions is to make the course relevant to your life and to help you share ideas with the other students in the course. You are encouraged to ask questions, make comments, or clarify concepts in a respectful manner that would encourage the formation of an online community with your fellow learners.

Here are some tips on online discussion etiquette:

Dos and Don’ts for Online Discussions (Netiquette)

DON’T include the entire contents of a previous posting in your reply.

DON’T reply to a point in a posting without quoting or paraphrasing what you’re responding to and indicating who said it. Reason: a dozen postings may occur between the original message and your reply. At some sites, your reply may get there before the original.

DON’T send lines longer than seventy characters.


DO separate your paragraphs with blank lines. Make your message inviting to your potential readers.

DON’T betray confidences. It is all too easy to quote personal information in a posting to the entire group.

DON’T make statements which can be interpreted as official positions of your organization or offers to do business.

DO treat every post as though you were sending a copy to your boss, your minister, and your worst enemy.

DON’T rely on the ability of your readers to tell the difference between serious statements and satire or sarcasm. It’s hard to write funny. It’s even harder to write satire.

DO remember that no one can hear your tone of voice. Use emoticons (or smilies) like 🙂 or :^) — turn your head counter-clockwise to see the smile.

DON’T put a huge signature at the bottom of your messages.

DON’T make a posting that says nothing but “Me, too.” Always write a few lines in your posting, expressing your point of view on a topic.

DON’T feel that you have to reply to each posting. Sometimes silence is a good thing, especially if you genuinely have nothing to say.

DO share personal knowledge and experience with your classmates.


You must achieve at least 50% of the total marks to pass this course.  The assessment is as follows:

Practical Exams (2) 30%
Quizzes 30%
Lab Assignments 25%
Project 10%
Blog Entries 5%
Total 100%


It is imperative that students use their class time wisely.  Missed classes and extended coffee
breaks will put the student behind very quickly.

Course Modules

The course material is drawn from several Modules.  The information from each Module will be highlighted as we address the relevant topics.

Part A

Using Blogs

Basic GIS Concepts

Managing Spatial data

Spatial Data Representation

Managing Attribute Data

Basic Spatial Analysis

Map Design

Part B

Setting up the project

Adding data from External Sources

Customizing data for Analysis

Finalizing Map Layout

Part C

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and alternative mapping software