Search type

School of Environment, Education and Development

Student and lecturer in a geography lab
MSc Geographical Information Science
Gain thorough expertise in spatial data analysis for a range of specialist careers.

MSc Geographical Information Science / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course description

MSc Geographical Information Science focuses on the multi-disciplinary science concerned with the development and application of geographical information science technologies, preparing you for a range of specialist careers.

Geographical information technologies are increasingly used in everyday life, such as Google Earth and geosocial networking. Core geographical information science technologies, including geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing, have had a long history of application in government and private sector environmental agencies, planning, agriculture, forestry, utilities and transportation.

This course will enable you to develop fundamental skills and in-depth knowledge of key application areas. You can choose to undertake an applied study unit, which gives a range of work experience skills and can lead to dissertation opportunities working with key local and national employers.

We offer research-led teaching and a range of extra-curricular activities designed to deepen and enhance your learning experience. These include access to additional training resources, educational visits, career talks and alumni presentations.

You will gain experience using commercial and open source software and acquire skills in the development of spatial software for both desktop and online platforms. What's more, during 2017 we hosted the 25 th Geographical Information Science Research UK (GISRUK) conference; the largest national GIS research conference.

Manchester's Geography department has a global reputation for its research and teaching. We're ranked fourth in the UK for geography in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and ranked 17th in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2018.


This course will provide you with the theoretical foundation and practical skills that are relevant for pursuing a career in a geographical information science field.

You will have the opportunity to develop advanced knowledge of and practical experience in:

  • GIS and remote sensing theory and practice
  • Advanced techniques for GIS analysis and image processing
  • Spatial analysis
  • Computer modelling and software development
  • Internet and GIS Web technologies
  • Databases and database technologies
  • Scientific communication of analytical results and their interpretation

Teaching and learning

  •   Part-time Study

    Part-time students complete the full-time programme over 27 months.  There are NO evening or weekend course units available on the part-time programme, therefore if you are considering taking a programme on a part-time basis, you should discuss the requirements with the Programme Director first and also seek approval from your employer to have the relevant time off.  Timetabling information is normally available from late August from the Programme Administrator and you will have the opportunity to discuss course unit choices during induction week with the Programme Director.

Coursework and assessment

The dissertation, based on an original research project of your own design, accounts for 60 credits. Dissertation topics can focus on aspects of geographical information science and are supported by researchers who specialise in core areas of GIS, remote sensing or modelling. The remaining 120 credits are based on eight 15-credit course units (four in each semester).

Assessment is primarily coursework-based and includes a variety of project work, essays and presentations. This enables you to gain a significant amount of hands-on experience of applying geographical information science skills to real world environmental applications.

The course has five core course units. You select your remaining four course units from a wide range of options offered by Geography, Planning and Environmental Management and the Global Development Institute (GDI), all within the School of Environment, Education and Development. These optional course units enable you to tailor the course to your unique interests.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Dissertation Support GEOG60662 15 Mandatory
Environmental Remote Sensing GEOG60942 15 Mandatory
GIS and Environmental Applications GEOG60951 15 Mandatory
GIS and the Web GEOG70612 15 Mandatory
Environmental Monitoring and Modelling Practice GEOG70552 15 Optional
Applied Study Unit GEOG70560 15 Optional
Environmental Monitoring and Modelling Concepts GEOG70581 15 Optional
GIS and the Web GEOG70611 15 Optional
Ideas in Mapping GEOG70621 15 Optional
Understanding GIS GEOG71552 15 Optional
Fundamentals of Information and Information Systems MGDI60481 15 Optional
ICTs in Practice MGDI71932 15 Optional
Planning for Environmental Change PLAN60771 15 Optional
Neighbourhood Planning Project PLAN60812 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 14 course units

What our students say

  ' The information and techniques I learnt during the MSc have had direct relevance to my professional career, which has progressed rapidly and I am now responsible for the GIS across a number of UK offices'

(Rachel Hutchins; IBI Group)


 The Arthur Lewis Building provides excellent resources including analytical laboratories, studio facilities, workshops, seminar rooms, an on-site cafe and dedicated computer clusters including GIS facilities.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: