Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

Wei Luo

Northern Illinois University
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


This course offers an introduction to the concepts, principles, and theories behind Geographic
Information Systems and Science (GIS), with emphasis on the nature of geographic information,
data models and structures for storing geographic information, geographic data input, data
manipulation, and simple spatial analysis and modeling techniques.

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


Course Context:

The course is composed of two components: lectures and labs. The lectures will discuss the
above theories and concepts and the labs will reinforce them through hands-on exercises and
projects. Students must be clear that this is not a class on any specific GIS software. It is a course
on the underpinning theory and concepts in GIS. However, students will be exposed to two
major commercial GIS software packages (GeoMedia and ArcView) in their labs.

Course Goals:

After successful completion of this course, the students will be able to:
1. describe what GIS is; name the major GIS software available; know where to find more
2. explain the components and functionality of a GIS and the differences between GIS and other
information systems;
3. understand the nature of geographic information and explain how it is stored in computer
(including map projection) and the two types of GIS data structure;
4. conduct simple spatial analysis using GIS software;
5. design and complete a GIS project from start to finish (data capture, data storage and
management, analysis, and presentation);

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

The course integrates both lectures and labs to reinforce the concepts.

Skills Goals

Students learn how to draw flow diagram to help them think through the process of completing a project.

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

flow diagram is first taught in class, and then practiced in at least 3 labs.



GEOG359 syllabus (Microsoft Word 61kB May27 10)

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