Module code: ENGM285

Module Overview

Spatial data ­— data tied to a specific geographical location or area — is ubiquitously available and provides rich insight into our natural and built environment, social and economic activities and much more. Geographical Information Science (GIS) provides the concepts, methods and tools to analyse such data, using the spatial component of the data as an integral part of the analysis. Remote Sensing (RS) systems image the entire Earth on daily basis. RS methods allow the derivation of a wide range of spatial information from the imagery, providing a major source of spatial data.

GIS and RS are used in a wide range of disciplines including hydrology, natural resource management, climate change and infrastructure planning. This module introduces the theoretical foundations and trains the student in using these techniques to solve problems and support decision making, with an emphasis on Civil and Environmental Engineering practice.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader


Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 57

Seminar Hours: 7

Tutorial Hours: 24

Guided Learning: 44

Captured Content: 18

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This modules sits within the core subject of surveying, and through its integration of engineering and environmental analysis contributes to the program thread of sustainability. 

Geographical information science:

  • The role of GIS in Civil and Environmental Engineering practice

  • Measurement and representation of geographical information

  • Methods of spatial analysis

  • Geosimulation and agent based modelling

  • Cartography and data visualisation

Remote Sensing:

  • Applications of RS in Civil and Environmental Engineering practice

  • Fundamentals of RS

  • Digital images

  • Passive and active sensors. Data sources

  • Image analysis. Image enhancement, band operations and classification

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

Over the course of the module, the students will complete a series of practical GIS and RS assignments that are worked on during computer laboratory sessions and independently outside of scheduled hours. The assignments will allow the assessment of students in a more critical sense regarding their capacity to apply, analyze and evaluate GIS and RS methods and tools. Each assignment is completed in the form of a report. The submission of these is spread over the course of semester to experience and feedback from earlier assignments be incorporated in later assignments. 

The summative assessment hence is coursework-only and consists of five parts that cover all learning outcomes.

Formative feedback is provided verbally during computer lab based tutorials and seminars, where students have an opportunity to discuss the progress of their ongoing coursework tasks.

Module aims

  • Introduce the background, theory and methods of Geographical Information Science and Remote Sensing
  • Develop awareness of the spatial component of engineering and environmental problems, the available data sources and analytical methods
  • Gain practical experience using GIS software and spatial data to solve problems and support decision making
  • Train students to identify remote sensing data useful for their engineering and environmental problems, and to access, acquire and analyse such data

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Comprehend key concepts of GIS and remote sensing K SM4M
002 Be aware of engineering and environmental applications of GIS and RS KP SM3M, SM4M, EL2, P2M
003 Be capable of applying GIS and RS tools to engineering/environmental problems CP SM3M, SM6M, EA3M, EA4
004 Be able to critically evaluate data, analysis techniques and results KCPT EA6M, P1, G1

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • describe the fundamental concepts and analytical techniques of GIS and RS in lectures, and demonstrate these with examples;

  • provide students with hands-on experience of the introduced techniques using practical problems in guided computer laboratory based tutorial sessions;

  • Computer laboratory sessions will be used to foster interactions and engagement with students. This will also allow students to work in groups through problem-based learning and offer an opportunity to discuss work and for academics to provide individual verbal  formative feedback

The learning and teaching methods include a variety of materials and activities to support both campus-based and distance learning students. The computer labs provide a mixture of introduction of relevant theory and concepts, discussion and practical both GIS and RS.  By their nature, these sessions are less accessible to distance learning students, and therefore additional resources are made available. These include recorded walkthrough of practical elements of computer labs, captured content providing background and theoretical content and online discussion forums. Seminars are used for the GIS component of the module to discuss assorted topics in additional depth.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENGM285

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Digital Capabilities: The module has a strong focus on the analysis of digital information with appropriate computational methods and software tools. The development of Digital Capabilities, a key pillar of the University's  curriculum framework, is central to this module. The highly applied nature of the module nurtures the development of practical and transferable skills.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: The coursework requires proactive and critical engagement with technical literature and large data sets. The challenging problem-oriented approach to assessment resonates well with the Resourcefulness and Resilience pillar of the framework.

Sustainability: GIS and Remote Sensing provide he opportunity to more appraise the multi-dimensional problems associate with the built and natural environment and is fundamental to understanding of aspects of sustainabilty.   

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Water and Environmental Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Bridge Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Infrastructure Engineering and Management MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Advanced Geotechnical Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Structural Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2022/3 academic year.