• Starting dates next intakes: Twice a year (March and October)
  • Where to meet UNIGIS: GI-Forum, Salzburg

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Core Modules

1 Module: Introduction to Geoinformatics

This introductory module has a special position as a first study component of the curriculum. It provides orientation and sets the frame for working with the subsequent modules. Specifically, it supports the development of a personal style working with the distance-learning materials. In addition to these objectives regarding the study format, the following domain-related content is offered:

  • Terminology and functional characteristics of geographic information systems.
  • Typical applications of geographic information processing.
  • Current trends in geoinformatics.
  • Overview of secondary information resources for GIS in terms of life-long learning.
  • Practical training to use professional GIS software.
  • Competent use of coordinate systems and projections in the practical work of GIS.


Graduates of the module...

  • understand the added value of the spatial dimension as an integrating reference framework,
  • have an overview of the basic components of typical GIS projects and can appreciate GIS functionalities in this broader context,
  • have an overview of the main fields of application of GIS, broadly outline its development and anticipate both current trends and future market potential. The latter facilitates also the effective evaluation of priorities for designing individual learning pathways,
  • can answer simple, practical problems, which include a spatial component, by means professional GIS software,
  • know the basic challenges of the spatial referencing and are capable of integrating spatial data of different geodetic data and projections into a single spatial reference system,
  • have acquired the knowledge to compare and evaluate reference systems in terms of their suitability for a specific application.


2 Module: Data Modelling and Data Structures

This module provides a profound overview of common data structures and data models in GIS. It explores how the real world around us can be mapped (application- and goal-oriented) in all its complexity with automate processed structures. Specific module contents include:

  • Basics of a formal description of spatial phenomena and relationships.
  • Modelling spatial information.
  • Spatial models – data models - data structures.
  • Vector model.
  • Raster models (grid).
  • Representation of continuous space.
  • Object-oriented data models.
  • Interoperability, OGC and standardisation.
  • WMS, WFS, WCS and OGC-CS.
  • Standards (GML) and quasi-standards (GeoJSON) for structuring and communication of spatial data.
  • In-service training in another professional GI software.


Graduates of the module...

  • have a profound overview of common data structures in GIS software,
  • can effectively compare and evaluate geodata structures based on their requirements and characteristics; consequently, they can identify the appropriate data structures for a specific problem in a project,
  • are aware to the vagueness of day-to-day terminology and concepts in describing spatial relations and recognise the necessity of formal logical data models as alternative terminology in GIS,
  • comprehend the importance of interoperability as basis for distributed spatial information processing and spatial data infrastructures,
  • can interpret the parameters of key, OGC-compliant services and use them in order to integrate external resources to their own applications (local, in the cloud),
  • understand the approach, structure and use of markup languages, can verify XML instances regarding their syntax and validate them against XML schemas. They can interpret GML schema files and create simple GML files,
  • are capable to contrast GML with alternative formats of web-based data exchange and to identify the suitable technology.


3 Module: Data Acquisition and Data Sources

The third module applies to the practical aspects of the 'population' of spatial data structures with real-world information. It gives an overview of the diversity of primary and secondary acquisition methods and thereby provides insights in the genesis and the related suitability for use of spatial data for specific use cases. A substantial part of the access record and listing of important digital resources as well as development of geographic information by standards-compliant documentation. It will also focus on the management of GI projects. Specific module contents include:

  • Identification of required data bases from the application and user perspective.
  • Data quality and cost.
  • Surveying.
  • Global navigation satellite systems.
  • Photogrammetry.
  • LiDAR.
  • Optical sensors and radar.
  • Remote sensing platforms (satellite, aircraft, UAV).
  • Secondary acquisition methods: digitizing, scanning, vectorizing.
  • Address data and geocoding.
  • Data access, interfaces and formats.
  • Metadata, metadata standards.
  • GDI, data catalogs, INSPIRE.
  • Global and national spatial data sources, open government data.
  • Project management.


Graduates of the module...

  • know the most common methods for geodata acquisition, understand their basic functioning and consequently roughly evaluate their suitability for practical application scenarios,
  • have the skills to collect and process primary data: for example they can acquire and process GNSS data, can apply digital image processing methods in order to extract thematic information from multispectral image data, use services for geocoding address data or digitise analogue data using automated processes,
  • are informed about the most important sources of national and international digital geospatial data and can use them for their practical work,
  • can integrate heterogeneous datasets of various formats and sources into a homogenous geodatabase,
  • are aware of the importance of data documentation and familiar with the appropriate metadata standards,
  • know about national and international spatial data infrastructures.


4 Module: Geo-database Management

In this module, the conceptual foundations of conventional database systems are introduced by working on hands-on examples. On this basis, the knowledge is transferred to spatial data management and geodatabase systems. Specific module contents include:

  • Architecture of database management systems.
  • Database design and documentation.
  • Relational data modelling.
  • Normalisation.
  • Solid basics of SQL query language as a universal language for data definition, data control and data management.
  • Practical work with a SQL front end.
  • Glossary of terms and specifications of GeoDBMS.
  • Spatial models in DBMS.
  • Spatial SQL operations according to OGC.


Graduates of the module...

  • can evaluate the range of database systems for managing geographical data and contrast them with other forms of data storage,
  • know the typical phases of the data modelling process and can automatically perform this process on the basis of simple, practical application scenarios,
  • can check existing ER models on efficiency and consistency, as well as develop ER diagrams for their own use cases,
  • can create simple databases, including a graphical representation of the data model and defining types for attribute and geometry data,
  • can perform and optimise queries using SQL statements. This applies to attribute queries as well as to simple spatial queries.


5 Module: Visualisation and Cartography

Knowledge on the visual communication of spatial issues is essential, because virtually every GI professional actively design maps. This module aims at professionals from different domains to take advantage of cartographic data processing for their respective tasks. Specific module contents related to conventional as well as digital publication forms (Web mapping, mobile mapping) include:

  • Cartographic application fields and paradigms.
  • Cartographic design process.
  • Generalisation and classification.
  • Perception of forms and Visual Variables.
  • Colour models and colour use (including consideration of colour vision deficiency).
  • Development of map symbols and interaction.
  • Map annotation and text.
  • Thematic maps, diagrams and diagram maps.
  • Map design and layout.
  • Reproduction and digital devices and output formats.
  • 2.5D/3D visualisation.
  • Web mapping technologies and APIs.
  • Dynamic visualisation.


Graduates of the module...

  • can apply cartographic data representation methods efficiently and profitably in various project phases, from data exploration to the presentation of results and data analysis,
  • can develop media- and purpose-oriented representations of spatial data that are appropriate to the respective target audience. Resulting maps take into account data inherent characteristics (level of data, data distribution, standardization), perception-psychological conditions (gestalt perception, colour) as well as (carto-)graphic conventions,
  • can draw on classical cartographic concepts such as generalisation or classification as well as use new visualisation techniques such as 3D visualisation and animation,
  • are capable of critically reflecting on cartographic products, identifying room for improvement and contributing substantially in the discourse on cartographic work.


6 Module: Application Development

This module serves as introduction to GIS programming. There are different courses available for this topic, on the one hand in order to cover the wide range of technology and software architectures; on the other hand to enable students to choose one based on the professional context and the resulting practical requirements. The specific module contents depend on the selected technology and platform that will be used. However, each course meets all aforementioned learning outcomes.

 Graduates of the module...

  • have a structured understanding of software development, which allows them to work as a GIS expert in development teams or to communicate with developers,
  • understand the basic structures of procedural and object-oriented programming and can use this knowledge for their own programming tasks,
  • are qualified for developing simple applications, adapting existing applications and automating workflows.


7 Module: Spatial Analysis

Spatial analysis methods are a central feature of all geographic information systems. This core area of geoinformatics aims at a transfer of domain issues towards an adequate use of analytical methods and tools of the geoinformatics, by adequate problem structuring and conceptualisation. This module introduces the fundamental methods and techniques of geographical analysis. Specific module contents include:

  • Approaches and motivation of spatial analysis.
  • Graphic modelling as a practical methodology for design and documentation of analysis processes.
  • Map algebra as a scheme, appropriate operators.
  • Spatial selection and aggregation, regionalisation.
  • Aggregate data, MAUP and ecological fallacy.
  • Distance scales and distance metrics, applications of distance-based methods.
  • Cost surfaces.
  • Spatial interpolation (deterministic, geostatistical).
  • Multi-thematic integration (intersection, assessment, multi-criteria method).
  • Decision support for optimising site locations.
  • Route optimisation and allocation in networks.
  • Terrain analysis (slope, exposure, radiation, visibility, hydrological runoff).


Graduates of the module...

  • can identify the potential and limitations of spatial analysis to capture relationships and trends in spatial data and to support spatial decision-making processes,
  • are able to analyse complex, real-world problems by disserting them into methodically manageable sub-tasks and with common GIS software tools to process them further,
  • have a wide repertoire of analytical methods and techniques and can evaluate their suitability for a particular purpose,
  • know the advantages of graphical modelling tools for structuring extensive analysis procedures,
  • can assess the role and influence of alternative data models to the result of an analysis method and can analyse data irrespective underlying data model.


Module Overview


UNIGIS Professional Documents