GISC403-24T1 (C) Term One 2024

Geovisual Analytics

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 31 March 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 25 February 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 17 March 2024


This course provides a theoretical grounding in the various ways in which geographic information can be visualised. Beyond the conventional map display, alternate representations, interfaces to geographic data, visual exploration of datasets and cartographic generalisation will be covered. The course will provide an introduction to the concepts, principles, theories and applied components of Digital Cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The course offers students a comprehensive overview of both the theoretical and applied aspects of geovisualisation and the science or practice of drawing maps. Topics will include geocomposition and visual communication, maps as abstractions of the real world, scale, symbology, classification methods and conceptual issues related to geovisualisation and technology. Supplemental to a conceptual and practical understanding of cartography, students will work with leading commercial software packages including ESRI’s ArcGIS Pro and MapBox. This is a lab-intensive course in which students will learn the ins and outs of geovisualisation as well as how to think critically about maps.

Learning Outcomes

  • Upon successful completion of the course students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the complexity involved in designing maps and other visualizations as abstractions of the real world.
  • Demonstrate an applied understanding of software used for generating maps both static and interactive.
  • Think critically about maps, geospatial information, and the process that goes into creating, using, and communicating through a geographic medium.
  • Organize, communicate, and solve theoretical and practical geospatial problems both individually and in a team environment.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


GEOG205 or DIGI205 or GISC422 or equivalent.

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 13:00 - 15:00 Jack Erskine 315
19 Feb - 31 Mar
Computer Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 09:00 - 12:00 211A GIS Comp Lab
Ernest Rutherford 211
19 Feb - 24 Mar

Timetable Note

You are expected to spend approximately 25 hours of your working week on this course (averaged over the first term of Semester 1):
• 1x 2 hours each week attending lectures .
• 5 hours each week on geovisualisation critiques.
• 6 hours each week on lab assignments (3 hours during scheduled lab time + ~3 additional hours).
• 12 hours ‘own’ time – such as preparing for classes, reading reviewing notes, and spending additional time in the lab extending your geovisualisation and cartography skills.

This time is very important if you are to understand the concepts and issues being discussed in lectures and labs. We expect that you will spend this time to further explore the topics we present in lectures and labs.

Course Coordinator

Vanessa Bastos


Grant McKenzie


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Lab Assignments 70% Five assignments worth 14% each
Critiques 30% Four critiques worth 7.5% each

Lab Assignments - 70% (14% x 5)
The course includes a lab component in which students will apply much of what they learned in lecture. During the lab sessions students will work individually and in small groups to practice skills developed in class by creating maps or other geovisuals using specific GIS, visualization, or web-mapping software. All deliverables, as described in each lab assignment, should be submitted online before posted deadlines. Lab assignments will be assigned at the beginning of lab session and will be due before lab session of the following week.

Critiques - best 4 of 5 | 30% (7.5% x 4)
Every week students will be asked to critique a map or geovisualisation. In some cases, these will be professional maps, in other cases, they will be maps produced by your peers. These critiques serve to improve both your own geovisualisation and design abilities, and your ability to comprehend the maps by others. Each critique should be ~500 words and present a balanced discussion on the merits and faults of the assigned visualization. Critiques will be assigned at the end of lecture and must be submitted the following week before lecture starts.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Dykes, J; Exploring geovisualization ; Elsevier, 2005.

Monmonier, Mark S; How to lie with maps ; 2nd ed; University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Slocum, Terry A; Thematic cartography and geovisualization ; Third edition, Pearson new international edition; Pearson Education Limited, 2014.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,145.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if less than 1 person applies to enrol.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment .

All GISC403 Occurrences

  • GISC403-24T1 (C) Term One 2024