Teach the Earth > GIS and Remote Sensing > Courses > Cartography


Ann Deakin

SUNY Fredonia
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


GEO 301 is designed as an introduction to maps and their uses, in particular, as tools for communicating spatial information. Although it is an "introduction", the content of the course and the amount of material covered is at an advanced level. Students are expected to make sophisticated observations regarding how maps influence and add to our understanding of the environment, the framework or structure inherent in maps, methods of extracting spatial data from maps, and essential strategies involved in displaying data on maps to support research conclusions or spatial decision making of any kind. While there are no pre-requisites, this is a technical four credit hour course. Much of the lecture meetings will be in a traditional lecture format. Students will, however, be expected to respond to questions in class and engage in discussion as evidence of their understanding of the material and currency of their reading. The laboratory work will involve constructing maps based on the information provided in both lecture and lab.

Course URL:
Resource Type: Course Information
Special Interest: GIS
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16)
Course Size:


Course Context:

This is an upper division Geoscience course with an interdisciplinary perspective. While there are no pre-requisites, students should be juniors and seniors preferably with some GIS experience. The course has a required three-hour laboratory.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to construct a reference or thematic map using fundamental cartographic principles to facilitate communication of the map's intended purpose.

Students should be able to use the most appropriate method of representation given a particular data type.

Students should know when manual methods (e.g., pace and compass, traditional surveying) are more appropriate than GPS-based technologies.

Students should gain an appreciation of the history of cartography, including how it coincides with the goals of exploration and navigation, manifests human culture and history, and propels scientific research.

Students should know where to search for potential data sources for use in map creation, including how to assess data quality for particular purposes.

Students should gain an appreciation of the new technologies in visualization that available to facilitate map communication.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Student lab assignments, course assignments and take-home exams are designed to assess whether students have met the aforementioned goals.

Skills Goals

Quantitative abilities.

Critically reading cartographic literature.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Lab assignments, class assignments and exam questions are used to assess students' ability to incorporate statistical analysis in map communication.

Class discussion and exam questions are used to assess student grasp of cartographic literature.


  • Lab assignments
  • Class assignments
  • Take home exams
  • class discussion


Syllabus for Cartography (GEO 301) (Acrobat (PDF) 451kB May27 10)

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