Course Title: GIS Fundamentals

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: GIS Fundamentals

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


145H Mathematical & Geospatial Sciences


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 2 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 1 2021,
Sem 2 2022


City Campus


145H Mathematical & Geospatial Sciences


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2009


City Campus


145H Mathematical & Geospatial Sciences


Sem 1 2016

Course Coordinator: Dr Maria Vasardani

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 9597

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 12.12.15

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment or by email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course introduces students to the key facets of geographic information science (GIScience).  The course commences by reviewing definitions for GIS including the distinction between GISystem, GIScience, components of GIS and a brief history of GIS.  The special characteristics of spatial, or geographic, data are then reviewed.  Scale, orientation and projection are introduced.  Digital models of spatial data are then reviewed.  Methods for acquiring, transforming and manipulating spatial data are discussed.  The two models for spatial data storage, manipulation and presentation, raster and vector, are discussed.  Reasons for using either or both of these data structures are reviewed as part of this discussion.  Topological relationships between spatial objects will also form part of this discussion. 

In addition to spatial data, attribute, or textual, data are an important item in any GIS.  We will discuss how attribute data can be stored and analysed within GIS.  The relational database model will be discussed as a convenient method for the storage of this attribute information.  Entity-relationship modelling will be discussed as a method for conceptualising the storage of attribute data. The remaining lecture program will be comprised of case studies, where spatial information and the application of GIS has been an integral component. 

Students will be provided with course materials in Canvas. Practical classes will reinforce concepts learnt in lectorials. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

On completion of this course you should be able to: 

1. Describe the broad concept and principles of GIS, recognising the distinction between GISystems and GIScience. 
2. Identify the special characteristics of spatial data and define and contrast the two primary methods for storage, manipulation and analysis of spatial information 
3. Identify and apply the various types of attribute data 
4. Discuss the design and operation of the relational database management system model and its relationship to the geodatabase model. 
5. Implement a basic scripting tool using ModelBuilder 
6. Demonstrate how GIS can be applied to real-world applications. 

This course contributes to the development of the following Program Learning Outcomes in MC058 Master of Applied Science (Geospatial Science):

1.1  Describe the fundamental and applied scientific knowledge that underpins the geospatial sciences.
1.2  Demonstrate in-depth understanding of the spatial models and mathematical methods used in contemporary practice.
1.3  Understand specialist bodies of knowledge in geospatial science.
2.1  Apply standard and advanced techniques to solve a range of measurement and data management problems.
1.4  Discern research directions and advances within geospatial science.
2.1  Apply standard and advanced techniques to solve a range of measurement and data management problems.
2.3  Be proficient in the recording, storage, management and reporting of spatial information.
4.1  Communicate effectively by means of oral, written and graphical presentations to peers and a wider audience.
6.1  Be self-motivated and personally responsible for your actions and learning.

Overview of Learning Activities

In this course you will actively participate in a series of classroom lectorials and exercises, practical classes, as well as self-study assignments. You will work on the practical component in fortnightly exercises. Practical components include: an introduction to data models used within GIS; detailed exercises using vector and raster data; constructing a geodatabase and editing input data; development of a basic ModelBuilder generated tool; and a 3D GIS development using web based resources. You can access online the course material which includes lectorial summaries, video links and practical exercises.  Tutorial exercises will also be conducted online. 

Overview of Learning Resources

As a student enrolled in this course at RMIT University you can access the extensive learning resources provided in the school and in the RMIT Library, such as books, journals and other course-related materials (electronic and paper-based) Our library offers extensive services and facilities, geared to assist you in completing your studies successfully. Furthermore we will recommend to you specific text books, websites covering course content plus recommendations for further readings, and engage you in discussion board. Computer Labs with the required software are also available for your study. 
A library subject guide is available at:

Overview of Assessment

☒This course has no hurdle requirements.  

Assessment Task 1: Practical Assignments  

Weighting 30% 

This assessment task supports CLOs 2, 3, 4 and 6 

Assessment Task 2 Class Exercises  

Weighting 30% 

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 

Assessment Task 3 Scientific Communication Task  

Weighting 40% 

This assessment task supports CLOs 2 ,3, 4, 5 and 6