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

TEXT:  GIS Fundamentals (5th Edition) by Paul Bolstad, 2016.

ISBN 978-1-50669-587-7.  This is available from the University Bookstore, but it is less expensive online.

Softcover (about $38) and digital versions ($22) are available from XanEdu, from a search of their website. If you have questions, contact Natalie Danner,

Additional readings may be assigned.

 SOFTWARE:  Students need access to ArcGIS 10.x.  This requires a Windows operating system (8.1 or higher).  An access code for a student license will be provided

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.


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

Project deliverables:

  • Data dictionary
  • 10-15 minute class presentation
  • Final paper
  • Digital version of the completed project


There are two take-home exams


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

Plus and minus grading will be used.

C. 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 7:30 – 9:00, Thursday 7:30-9:00 and Friday by appointment.

D. University of Maine Policy Statements

For further reference, consult Required Syllabus Statements (, the University of Maine Student Handbook ( and
the UMS Student Conduct Code (

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.