Theme 2: Data acquisition and map design

Learning outcomes

In this theme, students will learn how to find GIS data for their own projects, and how to create a well-designed map that effectively communicates their message. The first section focuses on the basic building blocks of GIS data, so that students know what types of GIS files exist, and the implications of choosing one type over another. Students will know how to evaluate a data set (through metadata) before they decide to use it, as well as preparing data by merging and clipping files as needed. Students will learn how to take non-GIS data, such as a list of addresses, and convert it into “mappable” data using geocoding. Finally, students will learn about how to take data that they have found and design a map using cartographic principles. In the theme project, students will find their own data and create their own quantitative map.

Course Content

  • GIS File Types, Data Models, and Topology
  • Finding data and preparing it for your project
  • Geocoding addresses and postal codes
  • Map Design Principles
  • Mapping Quantitative Data
  • Quantitative Map Types
  • Project: Getting Data and Making Your Own Map

Course Delivery

The course is presented through lectures in videos followed by brief quizzes. Brief instructions will be provided to guide students through the practical hands-on sessions.


The course is assessed through exercises and project reports that must be submitted on-line.

Intended audience : Anybody who works with spatial data.

Instructors : Prof Fethi Ahmed and his team