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SIE 509 - Overview

Principles of Geographic Information Systems

Connie Holden
Room 134 Boardman Hall

Course Objectives

This course provides an introduction to the basic components and principles of geographic information systems and practical experience in the use of these systems. Geographic information systems are systems used to represent observations and information about our environment. The lecture and reading component provides a background on the elements of geographic information systems and the organization of such systems. As outcomes students should be familiar with characteristics of spatial data, be able to identify and describe differences among data models; understand typical GIS operations, and understand assessment and implications of spatial data quality.

A. Class Sessions

  • On-campus Students: Tues and Thursday, 9:30 – 10:45 Tues & Thurs, Room 336 Boardman Hall
  • Live Broadcast: Available at Online students may view and participate in the live sessions but are not required to do so.
  • Archived Broadcasts: Links to the class broadcasts are made available at the end of each day through the Lectures and Assignments link for this course.

B. Course Materials

Reading materials

  • Text:  An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems (4th Ed) by Heywood, Cornelius and Carver.  Prentice Hall Publisher.  ISBN:  978-0-273-72259-5
  • There will be some articles provided as assigned readings.

Lab Exercises

  • There will be 8-10 laboratory exercises, which are designed to supplement the lecture material.  The exercise instructions and data will be under Lectures and Assignments on this website.  Unless otherwise stated, the lab report will be due one week from the date of distribution.  All reports should be word-processed.  All map layouts should have a title, a legend, a scale bar and north arrow, the name of the creator, the lab number, and due date.
  • Lab exercises have differing point values (25-50 Points), depending upon the length and difficulty of the exercise.  Lab exercises will be graded on accuracy, completeness, promptness and tidiness.  All written responses should be typed, and all pages stapled together with the layout on the bottom.  Exercises more than two weeks late will NOT be accepted.
  • On campus students have access to the software in the SIE Lab in room 138 Boardman Hall.  To get the access code for the lab, see Karen Kidder in room 348 Boardman Hall.  If you do not already have a userid and password for the lab, one will be assigned during the first or second week of class.
  • Distance students need to purchase ArcGIS for Home Use from ESRI (  The cost is $100.00 and requires a Windows operating system.


The project should be implemented using GIS software. The project can be related to your research, or be on another topic of interest.

  • Sept. 26 -  Project Proposal (5 Pts) – A description of your project.
  • Oct. 15 -  Progress report (25 Pts) – A list of data files needed and their source.
  • Nov. 14 – Progress report (25 Pts) – A description of what you have accomplished to date includes your data dictionary.
  • Dec. 9 – Presentations begin, continuing into the final exam period (20 Pts).  Distance students need to be able to come to class on the day of their presentation, or have the equipment necessary to record their presentation.
  • Dec. 19 – Final report and CD with completed project due by noon. (30 Pts)


There are two exams scheduled:

  • Exam 1 – Oct. 24
  • Exam 2 – Nov. 25


  • Lab exercises               25%
  • Exams (2)                      25% each
  • Project                            25%

Plus and minus grading will be used.

C. Requests for Accommodations

If you wish to request an accommodation for a disability, please contact Ann Smith, Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities (Onward Building, 1-2319) as early as possible in the semester.  These must be renewed each semester.

D. Instructor Office Hours & Discussion Sessions

  • For one-on-one discussions with the instructor:  E-mail to is often the simplest way to get a message through and a response. You are also welcome to call ( 207- 581-3952) or drop in during office hours.
  • On-campus Students: I am in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays for office hours
  • Tuesday 7:15 – 9:00, Thursday 7:15-9:00 and Friday by appointment.

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