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

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Ideas in Mapping

Unit code GEOG70621
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Environment, Education and Development
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit seeks to open up links between the study of Geographical Information Science and mapping, and in doing so provide students with the knowledge and skill to critically reflect upon maps, including those that they produce as part of their own GISc practice. This will enable students to design more effective and aesthetically pleasing map outputs, and gain a deeper understanding of the mapping process, a vital area of knowledge for any student of Geographical Information Science.


Taught in a hybrid lecture/workshop format, the course will introduce students to topics such as map production, consumption, practice and design. A significant portion of the course will be delivered in the Map Collection of the University Library, during which students will learn to engage with the most significant archive of maps in northwest of England, whilst learning how historic and contemporary map archives can be used as resources for research.


The overriding goal of this course is to enable students to gain a more rounded overview of the field of Geographical Information Science by making links to this often-overlooked yet vitally important area of study.


  • To provide students with a theoretical and critical background to a range of contemporary mapping topics that are pertinent to the field of Geographical Information Science (GISc).
  • To give the students an understanding of map design and cartography from a critical, rather than simply technical perspective.
  • To engage students with the use of archived map collections for historical and contemporary research.

Teaching and learning methods

  • This course will intentionally avoid the use of computer labs, and instead will deliver content through lectures, interactive workshops and discussion groups.
  • Electronic materials will be delivered via Blackboard, including weekly required reading before each session.
  • An ‘extended discussion forum’ will be hosted on Blackboard.
  • ‘Hands-on’ learning will take place, with the delivery of several of the workshops in the University Map Library.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the consumption and practice of mapping
  • Understand the security and privacy implications arising from mapping technologies
  • Understand the study of historical GISc
  • Understand theory and practice in the field of digital design and prototyping

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate and reflect upon map content and the role of technologies involved in the production of that content.
  • Interpret and evaluate historical map products, and relate this to their own contemporary map designs.
  • Make the links between creative map design and critical approaches to mapping.
  • Apply critical reflection to the design and production of new map outputs.

Practical skills

  • Critically evaluate published material
  • Develop writing skills and deploy them in developing arguments about mapping and GISc
  • Generate paper and digital map outputs which conform to design and practice principles
  • Use map archives as a research resource

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop their ability to carry out reflection and critical evaluation
  • Take responsibility for active self-critical learning, including time management
  • Improve presentation skills
  • Enhance group working skills

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 30%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%
Report 20%


Each week will include an extended discussion,, during which formative feedback will be provided verbally.


A 2000 word essay on a topic covered in the first half of the course, focusing on aspects of history, production, consumption and practice. 50%


In small groups, the production of a single exhibition display panel to be exhibited in a map exhibition about a particular mapped theme, chosen by each group. All of the individual panels will come together to form a cohesive exhibition that will be displayed in the University.

Each submission will be accompanied by a short (1000) word individual report that will reflect upon the production of the exhibition panel.

50% (30% group board, 20% individual report)

Feedback methods

Verbal formative feedback will be given each week in the discussion section of the workshops.

Written feedback for Summative Assessment 1 will be given via Blackboard.

Verbal Feedback for Summative Assessment 2 will be given at the map exhibition.

Written feedback for Summative Assessment 2 will be given via Blackboard.

Recommended reading

Akerman, J. and Karrow, R. (2007).  Maps finding our place in the world.  Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Dodge, M., Kitchin, R. and Perkins, C.  (Eds.) (2009). Rethinking maps. London.,Routledge.

Heywood, I,, Cornelius, S and Carver S. (2011) An introduction to geographical Information systems. Ed 4. Harlow: Prentice Hall.

Kitchin, R. And Thrift, N. (2009) International encyclopaedia of human geography.  London: Elsevier (Cartography and GIS section edited by Crampton includes around 70 current and accessible introductions).

Wood, D. and Krygier, J. (2016) Making maps: a visual guide to map design for GIS. Ed 3.  New York Guilford Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jonathan Huck Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Activity hours include hybrid lecture / workshop

Return to course details