Geographic Information Systems - Cartographic Specialist Curriculum

School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences

Accepting Applications for September 2021

See curriculum for: September 2022
Credential: Ontario College Graduate Certificate ( 3 semesters )
Classes begin:
September 07, 2021
Offered at:
Frost Campus
Program code:
Tuition & Ancillary Fees:
$2,323.39 per semester*
$8,152.07 per semester*
* Tuition and fees subject to change.

Vocational Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate how cognitive factors in map structure conform with the specific requirements of geometrical and symbolic map characteristics.
  • Combine logical and semiotic perspectives on how maps represent reality with emphasis on visual-cognitive processes.
  • Synthesize the various stages involved in the abstraction of reality into an organized whole to facilitate communication.
  • Conceptualize and convey the importance of map design as an efficient and accurate method of information transfer between the map author and the map user.
  • Describe and apply fundamental techniques used to retain a high degree of positional and attribute accuracy while capturing, structuring and displaying geographic data
  • Acquire, interpret, and integrate data from various sources and with different formats and coordinate systems to solve spatial problems.
  • Explore, identify and analyze spatial problems, develop solutions and validate results
  • Create maps and visual displays based on recognized design principles that communicate geographic information effectively.
  • Communicate complex, technical ideas and information to a given audience using a variety of media
  • Apply database systems to enable the efficient query and analysis of spatial and non-spatial data.
  • Handle tools and equipment appropriately, in compliance with industry safety and operating standards, ensuring optimum health and safety of self, team and the environment.
  • Work effectively in a collaborative work environment, demonstrating effective teamwork, interpersonal and communication skills
  • Practice to a professional standard, through ethical behaviour, continuous learning and participation in professional organizations
  • Proficiently employ standard software packages used in the GIS and cartographic industries
  • Plan and manage projects, and develop workflows to accomplish specific objectives and tasks
  • Take a challenging computational problem, break it down to its component parts, and solve the problem in an elegant and efficient manner
  • Employ the internet to access various data sources, to publish cartographic products, and distribute GIS data and functionality to a wide audience

Courses and Descriptions

Semester 1

Units/ Hours: 45

This course introduces principles and techniques of database design and processing, focusing on a GIS environment. Lab exercises and project work provide opportunities for students to develop skills in designing, implementing and managing databases using a variety of desktop, mobile and enterprise software. Structured Query Language is used to build databases and manipulate data in preparation for future work in data processing, GIS analysis, and cartographic presentation.

GEOM 104
Units/ Hours: 21

Geodesy is the science related to the determination of the size and shape of the earth. Due to the curvature of the earth, geodetic principles must be applied to small scale maps covering large areas. Students will develop an increased awareness of this foundation science and the issues involved in measuring and mapping the earth, such as applying appropriate map projections and coordinate systems.

GEOM 102
Units/ Hours: 45

This course will engage students in the exploration of the cartographic communication process. Effective geographical display is dependent upon the decisions involved in its design, such as colour, symbology, and typography in map making. Students will also be introduced to concepts and processes that are central to cartography, enabling the student to build a cartographic foundation for subsequent studies. Industry standard, graphic design software will be used to create various paper products and screen images.

Units/ Hours: 60

Programming capabilities in GIS software allow users to process data and automate repetitive tasks. Often a few lines of code can save time or can accomplish tasks that would otherwise not be feasible. In this course students will develop their core problem solving and algorithm design skills and implement solutions in a current programming language. This course focusses on programming fundamentals that are applicable to many programming languages used in the Geospatial industry. This course also serves as the foundation to the other programming and technical courses in the GIS specialist programs.

Units/ Hours: 45

This course provides an introduction to the basic interpretation and measurement of physical, biological, and cultural features from satellite and aerial imagery. Basic photogrammetry concepts will be examined and practiced in scale determination, height, and measurement. Other concepts introduced include understanding the electromagnetic spectrum, working with raster data, geometric correction, atmospheric correction, image classification techniques, and understanding how atmospheric conditions affect the quality of imagery.

GEOM 103
Units/ Hours: 45

This course will enable students to explore the principles and fundamental concepts and types of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and apply them in projects. Students will be introduced to the five main technical components of a GIS, namely, input, storage, pre-processing, analysis and output using both the raster and vector spatial data models. Hands-on experience, using current software applications is provided through a series of laboratory exercises.

Units/ Hours: 40

Capturing the environment through data acquisition is the first step in building a GIS. In this survey field course, students will gain practical experience in equipment use, maintenance and troubleshooting. Data collection techniques and theory will be practiced with an emphasis on effective teamwork. Students will have hands on experience using Total Stations, mobile data collection, GPS and trigonometric leveling.

Units/ Hours: 21

Acquiring spatial data and attribute data, in the field, is an important part of mapping and GIS. Once back in the office, this new data must be integrated in an efficient manner. Building on the skill sets associated with measuring for maps and land-type surveys, students will develop methods of placing field data onto existing maps and plans. These collected features will be placed in a GIS/Land Information System and appended to existing digital maps and plans.

GEOM 101
Units/ Hours: 45

The internet has changed the way we use maps. This course will explore the latest technical internet standards and techniques, including content markup, layout, colour, interactivity, all with a consideration of accessibility and usability. Students will also learn how to make a web page dynamic using CSS and client-side programming. This course prepares students for the use and customization of web GIS applications in the second semester.

Semester 2

Units/ Hours: 60

This advanced course further explores the topics introduced in the course Remote Sensing and Image Analysis. Students will learn the principles and operation of modern remote sensing platforms, including multispectral, thermal, Radar and LiDAR. Methods for processing and interpreting data are explored in lectures and practical skills developed through comprehensive labs and assignments. The latest feature classification techniques are also explored using various computational algorithms.

GEOM 105
Units/ Hours: 21

Environmental Modeling is the science of predicting the behaviour and occurrence of environmental processes and variables. The use of GIS in Environmental Modeling extends this science to the creation of spatial surfaces. Environmental modeling using GIS is being applied to a wide variety of environmental and natural resource applications for decision-making at all levels. This course will provide the fundamental knowledge required to perform environmental modeling using industry standard GIS software. Students will learn the appropriate algorithm to choose for a given scenario and will explore techniques for enhanced visualization. In addition, hydrological surfaces will be created and examined in order to better understand the physical processes which take place in our environment.

Units/ Hours: 21

The skills developed in this course will help students select, design, build, and implement a complex GIS application and/or a cartographic representation in response to an industry defined problem, using a business project management model. The course will assist students in negotiating the complexities of project planning unique to this sector, as well as issues such as client relations, time management and scheduling, data acquisition, negotiating intellectual property rights and copyrights and managing team work and interactions. Project design principles will provide a foundation for the iterative process of planning, establishing schedules, and writing a GIS project proposal. GIS Collaborative Project Planning precedes the GIS Collaborative Project in the final semester, and develops a skill set critical to its success.

GEOM 106
Units/ Hours: 60

The discipline of cartography has long been about the art and science of communicating geospatial information through the incorporation of graphical symbology. Over the past two decades, geographic visualization, also referred to as geovisualization, has emerged to include not only the cartographic domain but also the understanding of the human cognition of information visualization and the inclusion of technology. As within numerous other scientific fields, the use of sophisticated interactive computer technologies has enabled geographers to render greater supporting geospatial data analysis through the use of interactive visualization. Collectively these factors are allowing for more advanced human-map interaction in revealing unknowns through visual communications.

GEOM 108
Units/ Hours: 45

Cities and urban environments are home to the majority of the human population. Municipalities use GIS and mapping technologies for planning efficient and cost effective enhancements to our towns and cities. Topics may include: Automated Mapping and Facilities Management, street mapping, utilities management, tax and property assessment. Students will gain expertise in the successful communication of the spatial interplay of the facilities designed, installed, and maintained by municipalities.

GEOM 107
Units/ Hours: 45

Expanding upon the graphic design foundations built in first semester, this course focuses on the application of design principles within a web site context. Students will explore image creation and manipulation and as well as web site development using established software, with an emphasis on the coherence and effectiveness of visual communication, as opposed to the more technical elements of web-based projects.

Units/ Hours: 45

This course introduces GIS students to the possibilities to share static and interactive mapping on the internet. Building on Web Design and Programming in the previous semester, Web GIS Development provides a conceptual understanding of spatial Web-based applications. Students will create web GIS sites using solutions that have template configuration and programming for custom enhancements. Students will explore multiple technologies learning how to access, display, query, and analyze GIS data over the Internet.


Semester 3

Units/ Hours: 210

This course provides the student with an opportunity to finalize the design, development and implementation of a GIS project initiated in the Project Planning course. This team based project will address a variety of GIS issues and use mapping techniques to promote the research, development, testing, and analyzing of real world information in a 'real world' environment. Students will be challenged to assign responsibilities, create and maintain satisfactory working relationships with the client, accept feedback, meet project deadlines, manage the production of deliverables to industry standard, and formally present their findings.

GEOM 110
Units/ Hours: 35

In this course students will examine, in-depth, the principles of how maps work. Over the past decade studies on the role of maps and communication through visualization have invoked considerable discussion and debate. Students will be introduced to scientific research models that define the complexity of geographical visualization as it takes place along a continuum within the visual communication realm. Students will engage in studying and producing map products, which will incorporate complex descriptions of analysis / visual thinking and communication / presentation components.