PNG0093 A short introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with a focus on making choropleth maps, 3.0 Credits
Subjects Other Social Science Landscape Planning Agricultural History Rural Development Environmental Communication Landscape Architecture
Pass / Failed
The requirements for attaining different grades are described in the course assessment criteria which are contained in a supplement to the course syllabus. Current information on assessment criteria shall be made available at the start of the course.
Admittance to a PhD program.
Upon completion of the course, the student should:
- have a basic understanding of different kinds and uses of geographic information and cartographic principles, including a critical perspective on how maps intersect with power interests;
- be able to produce choropleth maps, taking into account various potential sources of error and controlling for potential misrepresentation of the underlying geographic information;
- be able to interpret and critically analyze choropleth maps, and explain if/when a choropleth map is appropriate given the data and the issue being explored.
This course will focus on making choropleth maps, which are popular thematic maps where statistical information that is tied to administrative and/or territorial units is represented through different shading, color combinations or symbols. Such maps are useful for visualizing the geographic spread and variability of a particular, often, socio-economic, phenomenon. Choropleth maps are relatively easy to make, but require careful thought and execution to avoid misrepresenting data.
This course will also include lectures introducing basic concepts in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (raster and vector data, map projections), the basic principles of cartography, questions on data management (including ethical questions related to data), and explaining choropleth maps and how they are used. The way in which maps are political technologies, i.e. how they simultaneous reflect and promote particular power relations, even as they may conceal these commitments, will also be discussed in this course.
The course will include exercises, where the creation of choropleth maps will be explained. These exercises will also demonstrate the various steps in preparing or "wrangling" data to be used in choropleth maps, in particular joining data from different sources according to a common key. Finally, the exercises will illustrate basic cartographic principles for making a print-ready map. Students will then receive an assignment to make their own choropleth map(s). Student maps will be presented, discussed and assessed in a seminar format at the end of the second week of the course.
The primary software applications used in this course will be QGIS, which is free and open source, and Microsoft Excel. QGIS works on all computer platforms (Microsoft, Apple and Linux), with the possible exception of literally the very latest Apple computers that are coming out in December 2020.
The course is offered by the research school Society and Landscape (SL) at the Department of Urban and Rural Development, SLU.
Department of Urban and Rural Development