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PgCert/PgDip/MSc   |   Full-time or Part-Time   |   Distance Learning

With over 25 years’ experience of teaching GIS, and nearly 20 years via online distance learning, our School has a significant track record in GIS education. We offer a broad-based, fully online, postgraduate course in the principles and practice of GIS, covering core principles and concepts, providing hands-on training in a variety of software and with a wide range of optional modules. Our extensive experience in online course delivery means high student satisfaction levels and very positive graduate feedback.

Why study GIS?

In recent years the benefits of using geo-spatial data have become more widely understood within both government and business. In parallel, the need for GIS professionals has grown steadily across a wide range of sectors. Moreover, gaining GIS knowledge and skills is increasingly seen as an essential part of preparing for other types of employment, for example in the environmental sector. 

Who is it for?

Our students fall into two broad groups: 

• people who want to enter GIS-related employment for the first time, or to add GIS to their skill-set to enhance their employability (often new or recent graduates, but also including people wanting to change career); 

• people already in GI-related employment who want to broaden and deepen their GIS knowledge and skills with a view to making better use of GIS or improving career and promotion prospects. 

Student feedback tells us that our course caters very well to the needs of both groups.

Why study with us?

• Established course with excellent reputation and feedback

• Flexibility of location – you can study from almost anywhere and there is no need to travel to classes

• Study part-time or full-time and choose the times you study each week to suit yourself

• Support and advice from experienced lecturers, tutors, librarians, e-learning and IT staff

• Access a wide range of online resources such as e-books, digital lectures and podcasts, discussion boards and video-conference tools all within a dedicated e-learning platform

• Strong focus on employable and professional skills and extensive hands-on practice with key software.

• Free student copies of GIS, remote sensing and statistical software

• Two intakes per year for the part-time course (September and January)

• Entirely assessed by coursework – no formal examinations

• Fees can be paid by instalments 

• Relevant work experience may be accepted in place of standard entry requirements

• Study for a Master’s degree, a PG Diploma, PG Certificate or enrol for individual modules

• Accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES)

The course

Core content includes the acquisition, management, analysis and display of spatial data and concepts and applications of remote sensing and spatial databases. Optional modules are available on web-GIS, spatial analysis and modelling, GIS for environmental management, programming, photogrammetry, GIS in the commercial environment and GIS work experience or work-based project. Students gain extensive practical experience using a variety of software, including ArcGIS, ERDAS Imagine, Excel, IBM-SPSS and various GIS extensions, plug-ins and open-source applications such as OpenLayers, GeoServer, PostgreSQL, PostGIS and QGIS. The award of MSc requires the completion of an independent Masters research project in addition to the taught PG Diploma modules.

Modules are taught online via the Blackboard e-learning platform, through which you can access your lectures, practical exercises, reading and additional study materials. Communication tools (discussion boards, video-conferencing and email) are integrated within Blackboard and all modules are supported by experienced lecturers and tutors. 


Core Modules

• Principles of GIS

• Spatial Data Management

• Introduction to Remote Sensing

• GIS Databases

Optional Modules

• Web-based GIS

• Spatial Analysis and Modelling

• GIS for Environmental Management

• Programming for GIS and Remote Sensing

• GIS in Business and Society

• Photogrammetry and Advanced Image Analysis

• GIS Work Experience / GIS Workplace Project

• Environmental Impact Assessment or Biodiversity Management (varies by year) *

* Note that all modules are 15 credit points except for EIA and Biodiversity, which are 30 credits.

The award of PG Diploma requires you to pass modules to the value of 120 credits (e.g. eight 15 credit modules, or six 15-credit modules and one 30-credit module). To qualify for the PG Certificate you must obtain 60 credits. For the Masters, you must complete the PG Diploma and then undertake the Masters Project module. 

Module summaries are provided in the GIS Course Booklet. Due to module timings, there are some constraints to the module combinations that can be taken. Full details are provided in the Course Brochure

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• The PgCert takes 3-4 months full-time / 8 months part-time

• The PgDip takes 8 months full-time / 2 academic years part-time

• The MSc takes 12 months full-time / 3 academic years part-time

Part-time students who are unable to study at the standard part-time rate can opt for a reduced pace of study, taking one module per semester instead of two.

Online Learning


Applicants are generally expected to have a minimum 2(ii) Honours degree with a substantial component of Geography, Environmental Science or Computing or related disciplines, but candidates with qualifications in other relevant subjects and those without the standard academic qualifications will also be considered on an individual basis, based on significant relevant work experience.

What are the employment prospects for GIS graduates?

GIS and geospatial technologies underpin a rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar industry, and are becoming increasingly mainstream within both the public and private sectors, resulting in a need for graduates who have a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. We place strong emphasis on helping our students develop and improve their academic and professional skills to enhance their employability and career progression. Our graduates have a very high success rate in securing GI-related employment, and students already in GIS jobs, many of whom are sponsored by their employers to take the course, frequently comment on how useful they find it within their day-to-day work. 

Our graduates have secured employment in a variety of roles worldwide, in GIS positions including technicians, analysts, scientists, surveyors, data specialists, mapping officers, consultants and project managers, development, sales and marketing, customer support, GIS training, lecturing and research. The breadth of potential uses of GIS ensures a great diversity of job opportunities, within, for example, mapping agencies, GIS, SatNav and technology companies, GIS and environmental consultancies, renewable energy companies, local government, forestry, fisheries, environmental agencies, town planning, housing, health and emergency services, countryside recreation, rural development, retail analysis, utilities and infrastructure, mining, the oil industry and Further and Higher Education, among others. Knowledge and experience of geo-spatial data are also increasingly required in a variety of jobs outside of the GI profession, making a GIS qualification a valuable asset enhancing employability in a range of fields. 

You can read about some of our graduates in the GIS Course Brochure

What our students say

Feedback from students consistently shows that they find the course both challenging and enjoyable. The fact that many new students join the course on the recommendation of previous ones testifies to the satisfaction levels of our graduates. “The course met my expectations and more. I was put out of my comfort zone a lot with learning new areas… but thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Doing this course has already had a positive impact on my career and a big thank you to all the staff and fellow students who helped with great support. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”

The GIS Course Brochure includes more comments from past students about their experience of the course. 

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Further information

For information on fees, start dates, how to apply and FAQs, please see our postgraduate courses page

If you have any additional queries relating to the course, please contact our postgraduate administrator Niamh McInerney ( or the Course Director Prof. Aidy Moore ( 

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