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Course Overview

This section of the syllabus is intended show you what you can expect from GEOS 270 this term.

  • The course schedule outlines when we will address cover certain topics.
  • The course content section outlines what to expect from the different components of the course.
  • The evaluation section gives you a breakdown of how your final grade will be calculated.
Table of contents
  1. Course Schedule
  2. Course Content
    1. Lectures
    2. Lab Assignments
    3. Final Project
    4. Final Exam
  3. Evaluation

Course Schedule

The course consists of six modules, a final project, and a final exam. They are all hyperlinked in the schedule below. The modules are designed to introduce and cover specific topics within GIS, and are published as separate webpages. Each module will consist of lecture material and a lab assignment.

  • Note: course content is already available for those who would like to look ahead, but specific content may change up to date each module is introduced in lecture.
Module Topic Due Date
Module 1 History of GIS & Intro to ArcGIS Pro 22 Jan
Module 2 Coordinate Reference Systems 05 Feb
Module 3 Data Types, Data Classification, & Data Visualization 19 Feb
Module 4 Spatial Data Models 12 Mar
Module 5 GIS Workflows & Spatial Analysis Methods 26 Mar
Module 6 Spatial Sampling, Uncertainty, & Ethics 09 Apr
Module 7 GIS Applications, GIS Programming & Exam Review N/A
Final Project Proposal & Report 31 Mar & 14 Apr
Final Exam Asynchronous on Canvas 24/25 Apr

Course Content


Lectures will cover the module topics in depth and serve as your chance to ask questions and engage in discussion about the material.

  • At the start of each module, I will also give a brief overview of the module’s learning outcomes and it’s corresponding lab assignment.
    • The remaining portion of each module will consist of lecture material & time for questions
  • Lectures are held each Mon/Wed/Fri* 11:00-12:00 in room 200 of the Geography building.
    • Lectures will also be streamed on zoom and recordings will be made available on canvas the following day.


Lecture participation will be gauged using a platform called TopHat.

  • The course Join Code is: 404678
  • Three to four questions will be embedded in each lecture presentation.
    • Questions can be answered via mobile device or laptop
      • Questions can only be answered during the lecture session
      • They will be available to in person and remote attendees
    • Questions will be marked based on participation (50%) and correctness (50%)
      • Anonymized answers will be reviewed and shared with the class to help gauge comprehension
  • The participation participation will be incorporated into your final grade.

Lab Assignments

Labs will build on the lecture and will primarily focus on GIS applications, giving you a chance to get hands on practice working with GIS software (ArcGIS Pro). Some labs will also have associated videos or readings (there is no textbook, pdf files will be provided where applicable). You can work through the labs in your lab section but they may also require some extra time outside of scheduled lab hours.

  • See the Software and Computer Access page for more details on how to access ArcGIS Pro.
  • Labs will be formatted as open help sessions. They are your chance to get one-on-one help from your TA and you may also use them to work collaboratively with your classmates (all answers/maps submitted must be your own work).
    • Lab attendance is not mandatory, but it is strongly encouraged.
    • You must be registered for one of the following lab sections, which will meet once per week throughout the term in the Geography computer lab (room 115).
  • There is also a lab discussion board on canvas which you can use to chat with classmates about the lab.
Lab Time slot TA
L2A Monday 14:00-16:00 Nastaran
L2B Monday 16:00-18:00 Nastaran
L2C Tuesday 14:00-16:00 Zijie
L2D Thursday 16:00-18:00 Zijie

Module Quizzes

Each module’s Lab Assignment will have an associated quiz that will be due on the date listed in the Course Schedule. The quiz will primarily pertain to the Lab Assignment, but will also build on concepts covered in lecture.

  • You will be allowed multiple attempts for quizzes in case you make a mistake or would like to update your answers, only your final submission will be marked.

Final Project

GIS is a collaborative discipline so your final project will be a group assignment (2-4 members). The project can be on any topic you choose, but I will also provide you with a set of project ideas to help get you started.

  • Your project should be done with a group unless special circumstances necessitate otherwise. You may only work on the project alone only if you get approval.
  • I will introduce the project in depth later on in term, but if you’d like to plan ahead, you can find details on the Final Project Page

Final Exam

The final exam will be completed asynchronously over Canvas. It will consist of a few essays, short answers, a flowchart question illustrating how to complete a GIS task, fill in the blanks, matching, multiple choice, and true false questions. The exam will be cumulative, drawing from both lecture and lab material.

  • 48 Hour Window to Complete
    • 0:00 April 24th to 23:59 April 25th
    • One Attempt - five hours
      • Not intended to take five hours, I just don’t want you to feel rushed.
      • If you have a letter from access and diversity and need more than the allotted time, contact me before the exam.


Module quizzes will make up the largest portion of your grade, followed by the final exam and final project which will be weighted equally.

  • At the end of term, your lowest scoring module will be dropped, so everyone get a “free pass”.
  • TopHat questions (Lecture Participation) are a minor portion of you final grade.
    • They will be important for folks on a letter grade boundary.
Points Distribution Percent of Points
Module Quizzes (Top 5) 45%
Final Exam 25%
Final Project 25%
TopHat Questions 5%