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School of Environment, Education and Development

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BSc Geography and Geology
Benefit from a wide range of optional topics and practical trips on this combined degree.

BSc Geography and Geology / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Remote Sensing in Action: Mapping and monitoring land cover changes

Unit code GEOG20382
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This unit is an introductory level course on remote sensing, also known as Earth observation. Remotely sensed data is an essential component of the recent ‘GI revolution’ – the huge growth in uptake of geographical information and move towards spatial thinking in business and policy-making. Google Earth and the internet have put remotely sensed images on the desktop of everyone with a personal computer. The unit helps students go beyond visual interpretation of Google Earth’s remote sensing ‘wallpaper’ to understand how satellite and aerial images data are acquired and used to help solve environmental issues. The unit is structured to take students from the basic underpinning physical principles of the subject, through the properties of key remote sensing systems and their imagery to examples of the application of remote sensing. Students will learn valuable practical skills of finding and interpreting satellite images, and how to process them using specialist GI software. The unit strongly encourages students to put what they learn into action, using remotely sensed images to support field courses, dissertations and coursework in other units.

Aims

The aim of this unit is to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to start using satellite and aerial images. The sessions actively encourage students to use these skills to enhance their work for field classes, dissertation and other coursework.

 

Unit aims are:

·         To introduce remote sensing as an important enabling tool for earth surface research problems and applications

·         To examine the basics of remote sensing and the main satellite/sensor systems that are in use.

·         To provide practical experiences of image processing (PC-based) and interpretation. 

Learning outcomes

 

Intended Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course unit students should have a good understanding of the fundamentals of remote sensing and be able to:

 

·         Define and explain the key concepts and terminology used in remote sensing

·         List and discuss the advantageous features of remote sensing for the study of the Earth’s environment

·         Describe the electromagnetic spectrum and appreciate some of the fundamental physical properties of radiation and their suitability for use in remote sensing

·         Summarise and discuss the interactions of radiation in visible to microwave wavelengths with the terrestrial environment, and with vegetation, soils and water in particular

·         Describe the properties of some major remote sensing systems

·         Explain how thematic maps may be derived from remotely sensed data

·         Appreciate some of the ways remote sensing may be used in the study of the Earth’s environment. 

Syllabus

Course Structure

Topics covered will include:

•                     Fundamentals of remote sensing

•                     Electromagnetic radiation and the electromagnetic spectrum

•                     Energy interactions with the atmosphere and the Earth's surface

•                     Major remote sensing systems and sensor technology

•                     Introduction to image processing

•                     Estimating Earth surface properties using remote sensing

•                     Image classification

•                     Land cover mapping and accuracy

•                     Real world applications in remote sensing

Teaching and learning methods

A combination of teaching and learning methods are employed to provide students with the necessary knowledge, structure and opportunities to achieve the learning outcomes. Lectures provide a sound knowledge base and structure for further independent study. In order to demonstrate a high level of achievement of the learning outcomes, students are expected to supplement the knowledge gained from lectures with further independent study (primarily reading of the literature). Practical computing sessions and tutorials provide students with opportunities to develop practical skills and to link theory with practice. Attendance and full participation in all elements of the unit (lectures, practicals, tutorials and independent study) is essential if students are to achieve the learning outcomes to a high level. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Define and explain the key concepts and terminology used in remote sensing
  • List and discuss the advantageous features of remote sensing for the study of the Earth’s environment
  • Describe the electromagnetic spectrum and appreciate some of the fundamental physical properties of radiation and their suitability for use in remote sensing
  • Summarise and discuss the interactions of radiation in visible to microwave wavelengths with the terrestrial environment, and with vegetation, soils and water in particular
  • Describe the properties of some major remote sensing systems
  • Explain how thematic maps may be derived from remotely sensed data
  • Appreciate some of the ways remote sensing may be used in the study of the Earth’s environment.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 

Subject specific skills:

·         Critically analyse literature on remote sensing

·         Analyse and interpret remotely sensed data

·         Conduct PC-based analyses of remotely sensed data in an appropriate and safe manner

·         Use appropriate techniques to produce clear products such as thematic maps

 

 

Transferable skills:

·         Pursue knowledge in an ordered way

·         Use computational skills in the analysis of spatial data

·         Relate abstract concepts to real-world problem solving; 

Assessment methods

The course unit is assessed entirely through coursework (100%). There will be two main coursework components:

Part one, will be related to a series of practical exercises (lab/field and computer) in which students will undertake mini experiments and image analysis operations (50%).

Part two will consist of an online personal reflective learning blog, which students will use to keep reflective notes on their learning and personal study throughout the module (50%).   

Feedback methods

Formative assessment and feedback (from both teaching staff and peers) is provided during the computing practical sessions. Summative feedback is provided through comments on coursework at the end of the unit.  In addition, informal discussions are welcomed throughout the unit.

Recommended reading

 •    Campbell, J. B. and Wynne R. H. (2011) Introduction to Remote Sensing, Fifth edition, Taylor and Francis, London

 

•         Lillesand, T.M., Kiefer, R.W. and Chipman, J. W. (2004) Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation, fifth edition, Wiley, New York.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Practical classes & workshops 10
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Angela Harris Unit coordinator

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