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Study information

Introduction to Remote Sensing

Module titleIntroduction to Remote Sensing
Module codeGEO2321
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Steven Palmer (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module you will learn how remote sensing using satellites and aircraft has contributed to the geospatial revolution. You will develop skills gained during GEO2320 (a pre-requisite) to discover the potential of remote sensing and image analysis for investigating the natural environment. Through lectures and practical classes, you will gain an understanding of the theoretical principles behind a broad range of remote sensing techniques, including electromagnetic radiation theory, radar and laser-altimetry, and spatiotemporal characteristics of remotely-sensed data. Quantitative data analysis techniques such as vegetation indices, land classification and spatial interpolation will be covered, from the underlying theory, through to their practical applications.

This module enhances your employability by providing training in industry-standard spatial analysis and remote sensing software packages. Learning takes place through the hands-on investigation of geographical and geophysical datasets for two study areas: (i) Crater Lake, Oregon, USA (ii) the South Devon coastline. You will develop an understanding of the opportunities and constraints on the implementation of a range of remote sensing approaches, including multispectral remote sensing, LiDAR and aerial photography. You are encouraged to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches within the context of selected geographical phenomena.

To be able to take this module you must have taken GEO2320 Applied GIS for Physical Geographers in Term 1.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The overall aims of this module are:

  • to enhance capacity for research;
  • to increase understanding of spatial data collection and analysis;
  • to develop specific skills in the use of sophisticated software (ERDAS Imagine and ArcGIS) used both in Geographical research and also widely throughout the public and private sectors.

Through attending the lectures and practical sessions and through completing the assessments, you will work towards developing the following graduate attributes:

  • GIS and spatial analysis skills
  • remote sensing software and image interpretation skills
  • general analytical skills
  • report writing skills
  • problem solving (linking theory to practice)
  • developing your own ideas with confidence
  • being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems
  • task management (identifying key objectives, setting clearly defined goals, developing strategies to ensure individual success)
  • time management (managing time effectively)

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Outline the fundamental principles of Remote Sensing
  • 2. Summarise the principles of Geographical Information Systems for handling RS data
  • 3. Use ERDAS Imagine Image Processing Software in a technically competent manner
  • 4. Use the ESRI ArcGIS Geographical Information System in a technically competent manner
  • 5. Implement, assess and interpret simple geographical models
  • 6. Describe the range of spatial data sources available for characterising geographical systems and analyse any such data

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Illustrate and discuss the contested and provisional nature of knowledge and understanding
  • 8. Identify a diverse range of approaches to the generation of knowledge and understanding
  • 9. Evaluate a diverse range of specialised techniques and approaches involved in collecting geographical information
  • 10. Describe, apply and evaluate the diversity of specialised techniques and approaches involved in analysing geographical information
  • 11. Discuss the nature of change within physical environments

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 12. Formulate and evaluate questions and identify and evaluate approaches to problem-solving
  • 13. Identify, acquire, evaluate and synthesise data from a range of sources
  • 14. Use C&IT effectively and appropriately to select, analyse and present information
  • 15. Interpret and use numerical statistical information effectively and appropriately
  • 16. Undertake independent/self-directed study/learning (including time management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment
  • 17. Reflect on the process of learning and evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses
  • 18. Draw on a range of the module specific and discipline specific ILOs (above) over the duration of a sustained piece of independent study for the purpose of producing extended pieces of coursework
  • 19. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively and fluently by written means and through oral communication
  • 20. Develop a sustained and reasoned argument

Syllabus plan

Introduction to Remote Sensing

  • Problem-based learning project 1: Exploring remote sensing dataset for Crater Lake, USA.
  • Problem-based learning project 2: Quantifying coastal change in Sidmouth, UK.

Within these problem-based learning projects the following topics will be covered:

  • Remote sensing platforms and sensors
  • Data and spatial analysis in Geography
  • Electromagnetic radiation
  • Data acquisition approaches
  • Data interpolation techniques
  • Vegetation indices
  • Image classification
  • Investigating environmental change with remote sensing and field observations
  • Remote sensing and GIS in your future: study, research, and employment

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching18Scheduled practicals and experiments, supervised
Scheduled Learning and Teaching6Field classes
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Group seminars and discussions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Virtual contact through online learning and forum discussions
Guided Independent Study50Computer work in support of practicals and project work
Guided Independent Study40Reading and research, online
Guided Independent Study20Reading and research, library

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Exploration lab seminar2-hour group discussion and informal presentations10-20Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Online ELE quiz of multiple choice and short answer questions based on practical exercises. All instructions and assessment lengths are embedded within each question.301 hour1-2, 5-11Online automated feedback
Scientific report70Practical output image analysis, maps and accompanying text (equivalent to 2000 words). Specified limits as outlined in the practical hand-outsAllWritten (individual) and oral (group)

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Online ELE quizExaminationAllAugust ref/def
Scientific reportExaminationAllAugust ref/def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit an examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Remote sensing, spatial data, image analysis, practical reports, satellite

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites

GEO2320 Applied GIS for Physical Geographers

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date