AZA3542 - Geographical information systems: FOSS geo-informatics - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

South Africa School of Social Science

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Agnes Babugura


Ms Shelter Kuzhazha

Unit guides


South Africa

  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.


AZA2542, ATS2542, ATS3542


This unit introduces GIS (Geographical Information Systems) as both an academic discipline and a practical computer based software package. It discusses basic principles, techniques and applications of. Using free and open source software It examines and reviews specific application areas where GIS is a useful tool. Subjects covered include basics of GIS, spatial data sources, quality and analysis, data base storage and decision support systems. In practical sessions, students will be required to do map preparation, data input, digital editing, data manipulation and final map production for the end user. All this is done on FOSS software that can be down loaded for free from the internet.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of and familiarity with the following types of information, academic perspectives and skills :

  1. Demonstrate the utility of digital spatial data handling for mapping and analysis from digital data, referring to themes in GIS;
  2. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the key concepts concerning the application of GIS relate to research;
  3. Explain how value can be added to the data in any information management system with geocodes, by implementing digital spatial data analysis;
  4. Be able to assess the nature of digital spatial data, offer tests for validation and descriptions of the relative value of data sets compared with (raw) data supplied by custodians;
  5. Demonstrate a high level of skills in the use of FOSS GIS software (Ilwis) to solve research problems;
  6. Explain how digital spatial data handling is different from other digital data handling;
  7. Students undertaking this unit at a 2rd year level will be expected to meet all these objective criteria at a higher level of demonstrable and proven competency than those completing the unit at a 3nd year level.


Within semester assessment: 60% + Exam: 40%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study