Geographic Information Systems - Course Outline

Course Description

Geographic Information Systems for Forestry and Conservation is an introductory course in the design, development, and application of geographic information system (GIS) and related technologies for students in Natural Resources Conservation, Forestry, and other related disciplines. The lecture portion will deal with conceptual issues in GIS database design and development, analysis, and display. The laboratory portion will provide students with hands-on contact with GIS software products, such as ArcGIS, used in the analysis of geographically referenced data sets. Priority enrollment is to students in the Faculty of Forestry.

Course learning objectives

CONS 340 is an introductory course, which covers the use and application of GIS. It combines an overview of general principles of GIS, analytical use of spatial information, and practical experience in map production. The lectures provide a broad overview of the structure, processing and communication of geographic information. The lab component involves hands-on use of an analytical software package, ArcGIS, to complete GIS exercises in the labs.

The goal of the course is to provide students with experiences in the design, development, analysis, and visualization of geographic data. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of concepts used in GIS
  • Develop conceptual designs for GIS databases
  • Develop informed field data collection and management techniques
  • Conduct spatial and logical queries on geospatial data
  • Describe and communicate analytical findings to a non-technical audience
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of GIS software capabilities
  • Understand the conceptual and practical limitations and advantages of GIS

Required text

All knowledge needed is provided or available to linked resources on the internet.

Required software and hardware

We will be using ArcGIS software throughout the course. The software is pre-installed on the lab computers, but you may also purchase a student license from UBC that is good for 1 year for $25 on your personal computer (not compatible with Apple/Mac). Note that this course does not use ArcGIS Pro, which is available as a 21-day trial.


Student evaluation in the course will be based on participation in lecture activities, completed laboratory assignments, a final exam, and a self-evaluation of student achievement. The final exam will cover all material from lectures. The final weighting of coursework is as follows:

  • 40% Lab assignments
  • 30% Lecture tutorials
  • 30% Final exam