Course Syllabus

GIS - Applied Climate Change Cases

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2019 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Environmental Science, Geography, and Geology

Faculty Members:

Rasmus Ekman - 

Program Director:

Neringa B. Vendelbo-

Program Assistant:

Shannon Schooley -

Time & Place:

A-Lab, V10-A31, Fridays 08.30 - 11.25

Description of course: 

Geographical information systems (GIS) are used in many contexts of modern society, e.g. research, industry, and public planning. This course is a hands-on introduction to using and understanding GIS. We will cover concepts and topics required to use GIS in an informed way. These include spatial data, map projections, coordinate systems, data bases, and data quality issues. Furthermore, the exercises are built to illustrate the usefulness of GIS in a variety of contexts in relation to climate change as well as to guide the students through the use of the software.

Learning objectives of the course:  

By the end of this course students will…

  • Have a basic understanding of the theory and map projections relevant to GIS
  • Be able to assess the usefulness and limitations of GIS tools
  • Be able to carry out geodata analyses on data from different sources
  • Have thorough hands-on experience with GIS



Rasmus Ekman, MSc in Geography and Geoinformatics (University of Copenhagen).
GIS-Analyst and Drone Pilot,  City of Copenhagen, Department of Sustainable Development. Teaching experience from Herlev Gymnasium, University of Copenhagen and as a scientific instructor at Miljøtjenesten. Mainly works with drone generated point clouds, Digital elevation models, Vegetation indices and their application in climate adaptation planning.



Required texts:  Heywood, Cornelius and Carver: An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems, 4th edition, Prentice Hall, 2011. Please pick this textbook up during the arrivals workshop.

Software: ArcGIS software will be used in the course. Provided by DIS.


Approach to Teaching:

The plan of topics, readings etc. is updated on the Canvas course pages. Assigned readings and other details on the meetings are subject to change but will be updated online with as much notice as possible. A lecture plan with meeting dates and readings can be found at the end of this syllabus.

Most class meetings will consist of a short lecture or class discussion covering the main subjects of the assigned reading for the class followed by GIS exercises in the computer lab.

Expectations of the students:  Students are expected to complete the assigned readings prior to every class. Furthermore, students will need to work on the lab assignments and final project outside of class hours in order to finish these.

Field studies:  Field studies are an integrated part of the course. We will visit companies and public offices to learn about how GIS is used in different contexts in our society. Please see the calendar below for dates and times of field studies.



To be eligible for a passing grade in this class you must complete all of the assigned work. The overall grade will come from the following:





2 ArcGIS Assignments

15% each



Final Project


Participation: Students are expected to participate in all classes and field studies. Furthermore, active participation in class is required in order to get a good grade for participation. Examples of active student participation: volunteer to sum up key points from last class (2-3 min), start and/or participate in class discussions relating to the subjects treated, discuss difficulties with class mates and contribute to an open learning environment where students help each other learn.

2 ArcGIS Assignments (15% each): During the semester, students must complete 2 assignments in ArcGIS with the aim of learning to use the main features of the software. Students can work on the assignments in small groups, but they must hand in the final product (e.g. a map or a poster) for each assignment individually.

Midterm: Completed during class time. Tests the students’ knowledge and understanding of key concepts used in GIS.

Final project: The final project consists of three elements: a GIS analysis of a relevant data set, a short report on the project and an oral presentation of the final product.

Academic Regulations

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Schedule of classes, readings to be done for each class, and assignment due dates can be found in Modules.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due