MSc Geographical Information Systems

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1 MSc Geographical Information Systems Programme Specification Primary Purpose: Course management, monitoring and quality assurance. Secondary Purpose: Detailed information for students, staff and employers. Current students should refer to the related Course Handbook for further detail. Disclaimer: The University of Portsmouth has checked the information given in this Programme Specification and believes it to be correct. We will endeavour to deliver the course in keeping with this Programme Specification but reserve the right to change the content, timetabling and administration of the course whilst maintaining equivalent academic standards and quality. Copyright The contents of this document are the copyright of the University of Portsmouth and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior consent of the University of Portsmouth.

2 Contents Programme Specification 1. Named Awards Course Code (and UCAS Code if applicable) Awarding Body Teaching Institution Accrediting Body QAA Benchmark Groups Document Control Information Effective Session Author Faculty Department Educational Aims Reference Points Learning Outcomes... 2 A. Knowledge and Understanding of:... 2 B. Cognitive (Intellectual or Thinking) Skills, able to:... 3 C. Practical (Professional or Subject) Skills, able to:... 3 D. Transferable (Graduate and Employability) Skills, able to: Course Structure, Progression and Award Requirements Employability Statement Support for Student Learning Admissions Criteria... 5 A. Academic Admissions Criteria... 5 B. Disability Evaluation and Enhancement of Standards and Quality in Learning and Teaching... 6 A. Mechanisms for Review and Evaluation... 6 B. Responsibilities for Monitoring and Evaluation... 6 C. Mechanisms for Gaining Student Feedback... 6 D. Staff Development Priorities Assessment Strategy Assessment Regulations Role of Externals Indicators of Standards and Quality... 7 A. Professional Accreditation/Recognition... 7 B. Periodic Programme Review (or equivalent)... 7 C. Quality Assurance Agency... 7 D. Others Other Sources of Information... 8

3 Programme Specification 1. Named Awards MSc Geographical Information Systems 2. Course Code (and UCAS Code if applicable) C0620F/P 3. Awarding Body University of Portsmouth 4. Teaching Institution University of Portsmouth 5. Accrediting Body Not applicable 6. QAA Benchmark Groups Geography 7. Document Control Information June Effective Session Author Dr Dominic Fontana 10. Faculty Science 11. Department Geography 12. Educational Aims To develop detailed knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of GIS, together with recent advances in computing technology relevant to the GIS field. To build up practical experience in the use of high quality hardware and software tools for automated mapping and database management. To encourage sound judgement of project feasibility and a structured approach to problem solving through extended project work. Programme Specification for MSc Geographical Information Systems Page 1

4 To develop abilities in assimilating and communicating technical topics in the GIS field through library study, project reports and the MSc Dissertation. To foster the adoption of GIS methods in government and industry, through the development of collaborative projects involving the MSc Students. 13. Reference Points University of Portsmouth Curriculum Framework Document. The scholarship and research expertise of academic members of staff. Vocational and/or professional experience, the scholarship and the research expertise of academic members of staff 14. Learning Outcomes A. Knowledge and Understanding of: A1. Understand the fundamental concepts of GIS, including the roles of database management and spatial analytical methods. They will appreciate the difference between data models and data structures, the nature of spatial data and objects and appropriate use of GIS operations. They will also understand the processes of GIS automation and the interrelationships between different components of hardware / software systems. A2. Appreciate a range of technical issues, including coordinate systems and projections, problems of map accuracy, data quality and error propagation. A3. Understand the application domains of GIS and the nature of interfaces with other related technologies such as remote sensing and digital photogrammetry. They will also be familiar with the problems of data exchange standards and large databases in major organisations. A4. Appreciate spatial distributions in both physical and human phenomena. A5. Develop critical awareness of the significance of spatial and temporal scale. A6. Understand principles, theory, philosophy and practice of Geographical Information Science. Learning and Teaching Strategies and Methods Advanced information about the subject areas is conveyed through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials covering all learning outcomes. Assessment Assessment across the core units is through practical work, seminars, essays or reports. The core units form the basis of the Postgraduate Diploma level of the programme. Practical work addresses A1, A2 and A3. Seminars assess A1, A2 and A3 through the technical preparation of student seminar presentations and A4, A5 and A6 are considered in the students seminar presentations. Essays and reports assess A1, A2, A3, and A6 and may also consider A4 and A5 if applicable within the individual project. Formative assessment, based on students practical exercises, provides advice and guidance to assist students development and learning. The Dissertation project is required for the MSc and assesses A1, A2, A4, A5 and A6. In specific project cases it may address A3 as well but this is dependent upon the particular project undertaken. Formative feedback is provided during the students development of their Dissertation Programme Specification for MSc Geographical Information Systems Page 2

5 project and aims to promote the students awareness of their skills such that they are better able to meet their learning outcomes. B. Cognitive (Intellectual or Thinking) Skills, able to: B1. Assessing the merits of contrasting theories, explanations, policies and methodologies. B2. Analysing and problem solving. B3. Decision making. B4. Critically judging and evaluating the influence of spatial context and evidence. B5. Critically interpreting data, graphical and cartographical representations and text. B6. Abstracting, synthesising and visualising information. Learning and Teaching Strategies and Methods As for the knowledge and understanding elements these cognitive skills are conveyed through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. The lecture programme advances students analytical skills and the tutorials and practical sessions support students development of selfdirected research. Assessment Assessment of cognitive skills across the core units is through practical work, seminars, essays or reports. The core units form the basis of the Postgraduate Diploma level of the programme. Practical work addresses B1, B2, B3, B4, B5 and B6. Seminars assess B2, B3, B4, B5 and B6. Essays and reports assess B1, B2, B3, B4, B5 and B6. The Dissertation project is required for the MSc and assesses B1, B2, B3, B4, B5 and B6. Formative feedback is provided during the students development of their Dissertation project and aims to promote the students awareness of their skills such that they are better able to meet their practical learning outcomes. C. Practical (Professional or Subject) Skills, able to: C1. Combine and interpret different types of geographical evidence. C2. Apply a range of techniques for the analysis geographical data and interpret the outcomes. C3. Employ a variety of field and laboratory-based methods for the collection and analysis of geographical information. C4. Effectively present geographical information. C5. Design a research project, apply an appropriate methodology, and present the findings in an appropriate format. C6. Have the flexibility to adapt to technical changes in the work place environment. Learning and Teaching Strategies and Methods Lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials support are employed to meet all learning outcomes. Programme Specification for MSc Geographical Information Systems Page 3

6 Assessment Assessment of practical skills across the core units is through practical work, seminars, essays or reports. The core units form the basis of the Postgraduate Diploma level of the programme. Practical work addresses C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 and C6. Seminars assess C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 and C6. Essays and reports assess C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 and C6. Formative feedback is employed to assist students during their practical work as part of an iterative developmental process. The Dissertation project is required for the MSc and assesses C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 and depending on the individual project may assess C6 if appropriate. Formative feedback is provided during the students development of their Dissertation project and aims to promote the students awareness of their skills such that they are better able to meet their practical learning outcomes. D. Transferable (Graduate and Employability) Skills, able to: D1. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively by oral, written and visual means D2. Work effectively both in teams and independently on given projects or tasks. D3. Apply basic statistical and numerical skills to geographical information. D4. Use Information Technology (eg. Web & Internet, databases, & spreadsheets). D5. Independent learning and study. D6. Information handling and retrieval (including use of online computer searches). Learning and Teaching Strategies and Methods Lectures, practicals, seminars, and the dissertation are employed to meet all learning outcomes. Assessment Communication and IT skills are assessed by way of students presentation of written projects, reports, oral presentations on projects, and practical projects which use IT. Self-management, collaborative working are assessed in practical work. 15. Course Structure, Progression and Award Requirements The Masters degree level comprises of a minimum of 180 credits. One credit is equivalent to 10 hours of learning. Taught units are offered as 30 credit units. Students take four taught units for a total of 120 credits. The dissertation is a 60 credit unit. The course is offered on a 1.5 year timescale in full-time mode and 3 year in part-time mode, dissertations being studied, written and submitted after the four taught units have been successfully completed. The exit awards and minimum credit requirement for the programme are:- MSc (180 credits); PgDip (120 credits) and PgCert (60 credits) Standard University rules apply - the regulations must be consulted for a full description of exit awards. 16. Employability Statement GIS is a well-established but still growing field, of employment for postgraduates and the Masters degree curriculum has been designed in consultation with a range of employers to ensure that students leave with the skills they need in the workplace. Opportunities exist for students to carry Programme Specification for MSc Geographical Information Systems Page 4

7 out dissertation work with companies, such as Colas or the Ordnance Survey, enabling students to develop their dissertation topic in consultation with GIS professionals. Careers education, information and guidance is embedded within the teaching of the degree's constituent units through the discussion of practical examples. The curriculum develops a range of skills that are relevant to employability. In particular, the Applied GIS unit includes visits to commercial and governmental organisations so that students may see GIS implementations firsthand and experience how these fit into their host organisations. The interdisciplinary nature of GIS means that students have to engage with a variety of tasks ranging from preparing for traditional academic artefacts to developing and managing practical and applied project work. Undertaking these varied tasks requires self-management as well as the management and collaboration of others. Links with Employers Part-time students are usually already employed in the GIS field or a related area and therefore have strong links with the GIS industry through their employers as well as through the MSc GIS degree program. Sessions involving past graduates are arranged within the Applied GIS unit to provide current students with information on graduate employment destinations and work place skills of value to employers. The department, as part of its departmental strategic plan, is to formalise existing links with employers by establishing, promoting and extending an employers forum network. This will provide a forum for employers to discuss skill profiles they believe appropriate to their profession, thereby informing both curriculum content and increasing student awareness of how their skills profiles match the requirements of specific professions. 17. Support for Student Learning The Course is managed by a Course Leader. Extensive induction programme introduces the student to the University and their course. Each student has a personal tutor, responsible for pastoral support and guidance. University support services include careers, financial advice, housing, counselling etc. The Academic Skills Unit (ASK). The Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre (ASDAC). Excellent library facilities. The University of Portsmouth has consistently been awarded an excellent rating for student support and guidance in a number of Quality Assurance Agency inspections. Student course and unit handbooks provide information about the course structure and University regulations etc. Feedback is provided for all assessments. Personal Development Planning (PDP) for all awards. 18. Admissions Criteria A. Academic Admissions Criteria Good BA/BSc (Hons) degree in a cognate discipline. Relevant Educational or Professional qualifications and/or experience. Mature students and International students are welcome. B. Disability The University makes no distinction in its admissions policy with regard to disability and will endeavour to make all reasonable adjustments in order to make it possible for students to study at Portsmouth on a course of their choice. Programme Specification for MSc Geographical Information Systems Page 5

8 19. Evaluation and Enhancement of Standards and Quality in Learning and Teaching A. Mechanisms for Review and Evaluation Course Leader s Annual Standards and Quality Evaluative Review. Head of Department s Annual Standards and Quality Evaluative Review. Unit and Course Level student feedback considered at Board of Studies. Unit Assessment Board consideration of student performance for each programme. Annual Standards and Quality Reports to Board of Studies, including consideration of Subject and Award External Examiner Reports. Periodic Programme Review. Student Representatives and Student/Staff Consultative Committees. National Student Survey. Staff Performance and Development Review. Peer Review and Development Framework. Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee. B. Responsibilities for Monitoring and Evaluation Unit Co-ordinators for unit content and delivery. Course Leader for day-to-day running of course. Board of Studies with overall responsibilities for operation and content of course. Combined Honours Management Board. Head of Department. Associate Dean (Academic). Associate Dean (Students). Quality Assurance Committee. Unit, Award and Progression Board of Examiners. C. Mechanisms for Gaining Student Feedback Student Representation on Board of Studies. Student Staff Consultative Committees. Unit and Course level student feedback questionnaires. University participates in external student surveys, eg National Student Survey (NSS), Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) and International Student Barometer (ISB). D. Staff Development Priorities Academic staff undertake activities related to research, scholarship, teaching and learning and student support and guidance. Annual staff performance and development reviews match development to needs. Managers undertake a variety of management development programmes. New academic staff required to undertake appropriate University of Portsmouth learning and teaching programmes. All academic staff encouraged to seek Higher Education Academy membership. Academic staff new to teaching required to undertake Initial Professional Development Programme (iprof). Support Staff are encouraged to attend short courses in areas such as minute taking, and specific IT packages. Programme Specification for MSc Geographical Information Systems Page 6

9 20. Assessment Strategy Each unit is assessed in a way that ensures students meet the stated unit learning outcomes. For example, units such as GIS and Database Management Systems, with a significant theoretical component, are assessed using essays that allow students to demonstrate clearly their understanding, while more practical units such as the Principles of GIScience are assessed by practical assignments that allow students to demonstrate both their technical competence and their understanding of the underlying principles. Opportunities are also provided for students to demonstrate their technical and organisational abilities through presentation of project GIS work. The assessment portfolio for each year is also viewed as a whole by the Departmental Examinations Committee, to ensure students get a range of assessment types, and that the assessment load is spread as evenly as possible throughout the course. The assessment portfolio across the core taught units includes practical exercises, project work, essays, traditional examinations, oral presentations and seminars. In the Principles of GIScience unit opportunities are provided for students to develop their team working skills by conducting project activity, as small groups should they wish. 21. Assessment Regulations Standard university rules apply (see Assessment and Regulations). 22. Role of Externals Subject External Examiners who will: oversee unit assessment and usually attend Unit Assessment Boards; approve unit assessment strategy; sample assessment artefacts; present report to Unit Assessment Boards. Award External Examiners (usually also a Subject External Examiner) who will: oversee and attend Award/Progression Boards; scrutinise and endorse the outcomes of assessment; ensure that the standard of the award is maintained at a level comparable with that of similar awards elsewhere in the United Kingdom. 23. Indicators of Standards and Quality A. Professional Accreditation/Recognition None B. Periodic Programme Review (or equivalent) November 2011 periodic programme review confirmed fitness of purpose of the curriculum. C. Quality Assurance Agency QAA Higher Education Review, March 2015, judgements about standards and quality meet UK expectations (for full report see Higher Education Review of the University of Portsmouth, March 2015[1]). [1]www.qaa.ac.uk/en/ReviewsAndReports/Documents/University%20of%20Portsmouth/Universityof-Portsmouth-HER-15.pdf Programme Specification for MSc Geographical Information Systems Page 7

10 D. Others None. 24. Other Sources of Information Other sources of information may be found in Course Approval Document. Student Handbook. University of Portsmouth Curricula Framework. University of Portsmouth Undergraduate Prospectus. Assessment Regulations. University of Portsmouth (http://www.port.ac.uk/) and Dept of Geography(http://www.port.ac.uk/geography) website. Programme Specification for MSc Geographical Information Systems Page 8

11 Unit Assessment Map UNITS Level Name Code Credit Delivery Core/ Option 7 Principles of GIScience U Year-Long Core 30% 40% 30% COURSEWORK Total % Type of Artefact Item 1 - Project (CW) Item 2 - Report (CW) Item 3 - Report (CW) Duration/ Length 1000 Words Words Words. 30% 40% 30% Weighting % 7 Applied GIS U Year-Long Core 35% 15% 50% Item 1 - Report (CW) Item 2 - Presentation (CW) Item 3 - Proposal (CW) 2500 Words 10 mins 2500 Words 35% 15% 50% 7 Modelling And Analysis And The Web U Year-Long Core 25% 50% 25% Item 1 - Practical (CW) Item 2 - Essay (CW) Item 3 - Practical (CW) DTM Practical 3000 Words ARCGIS Practical 25% 50% 25% 7 GIS and Database Management Systems U Year-Long Core 35% 35% 30% Item 1 - Practical (CW) Item 2 - Essay (CW) Item 3 - Project (CW) Database practical 3000 Words Programming Mini- Project 7 Dissertation U Year Long Core 100% Item 1 - Dissertation 15,000 words 100% 35% 35% 30% Unit Assessment Map for MSc Geographic Information Systems Page 1

12 Unit Learning Outcomes Map 1 UNITS Level Name Code Credit Delivery 7 Principles of GIScience U Year- Long 7 Applied GIS U Year- Long 7 Modelling And Analysis And The Web U Year- Long 7 GIS and Database Management Systems U Year- Long 7 Dissertation U Sept - Dec LEARNING OUTCOMES Core/ Option A1 A2 A3 A4 A5 A6 B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 Core Core Core Core Core 1 A = Knowledge and Understanding; B = Cognitive (Intellectual) Skills; C = Practical (Subject Specific) Skills; D = Transferable Skills Unit Learning Outcomes Map for MSc Geographic Information Systems Page 1

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