Geographic Information Systems

GIS is described as the Geospatial Revolution as it is transforming the information infrastructure of many Government and private organisation, as well as changing the way we operate both in our private lives and in work.

Why study Geographic Information Systems?

GIS at the University of Waikato has an applied focus and students have the opportunity to link GIS to many different disciplines. These range from Human Geography applications, such as exploring population migration patterns, to Science and Engineering applications such as modelling ice melt in Antarctica or horticultural assessment using drones.

Our research has a strong emphasis on spatial analysis for solving real world issues, such as water quality monitoring, mapping crime hotspots for the NZ Police, and assessing population access to essential services such as hospitals and education. We also have a strong research profile in remote sensing, which includes mapping individual tree species from space, such as Pohutukawa, or using night lights to monitor economic activity in developing countries.

Graduates with GIS skills are highly employable and often employers request these skills even if the job is not a specialised GIS job. Soil scientists and ecologists are expected to understand GIS and have basic skills in using GIS data and software. Demography, population health, crime, planning, and Information Analysts all benefit from using GIS. GIS is an important part of the information infrastructure of many different Government and private organisations, including Land-use consultants, forestry companies, regional and local councils, DHBs, police, and the Department of Conservation. At the University of Waikato we offer education pathways to become a GIS specialist, or a GIS user for a particular disciplinary profession. We cater for students that are completely new to computing, as well as people with advanced IT skills. GIS is a fun way to learn about data, maps, file management, and even programming.

Career Opportunities

  • Conservation officer
  • Environmental Planner
  • Forestry

Hamilton, Tauranga

Geographic Information Systems can only be studied as a minor subject. This can be taken in many of our undergraduate degrees at the University of Waikato, alongside your selected Major.

Practical experience

GIS is a subject best learned through practical applications and the labs are designed to provide increasing levels of complexity. Depending on the level of the paper, you will be able to complete reasonably sophisticated analysis. Since we all have diverse interests and backgrounds, the papers finish with a project so that you can demonstrate what you know on your choice of topic.

Scholarships and prizes

Visit our Scholarship Finder for information about possible scholarships.

Subject requirements

Undergraduate GIS and the GIS Minor

A GIS minor is available for all undergraduate degrees.

To qualify for a minor in GIS, students must complete 60 points as follows:

  • 15 points selected from  COMPX101 (Introduction to Programming), COMPX102 (Object-Orientated Programming), DATAX111 (Statistics for Science), DATAX121 (Introduction to Statistical Methods) or DATAX221 (Statistical Data Analysis),or COMPX223 (Database Practice and Experience),
  • 30 points from EARTH251 (Spatial Analysis in Geosciences), ENVPL309 – Urban Spatial Analysis, GEOGY228 (Introduction to GIS and Big Data) or POPST201 (Population Studies) and
  • GEOGY328 (Geographic Information Systems) (15 pts).

There are two core GIS papers at undergraduate level:  GEOGY228 - Introduction to GIS and Big Data, and GEOGY328- Geographical Information Systems. These papers can be taken as electives for any qualification.

Graduate and Postgraduate Admission and Requirements

At the graduate level we offer the GIS Specialisation for people who want to have a career in GIS and become the GIS champion for an organisation. This specialisation is added to your academic record and can be combined with a range of qualifications.

We also cater for people new to GIS. There are many people who discover GIS for the first time after they have completed an undergraduate degree, or they simply did not have the chance to study GIS previously.

The GIS specialisation is available for:

  • BSocSc(Hons)(Geog) - 120 points,
  • PGDip(Geog), PGCert (Geog), PGDip(Dem),
  • Master of Social Science (subjects: Geography, Demography, Anthropology, Economics) - 180 points,
  • Master of Information Technology - 180 points,
  • Master of Environment and Society - 180 points, and
  • Master of Management Studies (subject: Economics) - 180 points.

In addition to completing the requirements of the degree, students must complete 30 points from:

  • GEOG538 - Automated Spatial Analysis using GIS (15 points)
  • GEOG548 - Advanced GIS Modelling (15 points) (not offered in 2022)
  • ENVPL509 – Urban Spatial Analysis (15 points) (subject to academic approval)

AND 30 points from:

  • Any 590 - Directed Study (30 points)
  • Any 591 - Dissertation (30 points)
  • Any 592 - Dissertation (60 points)
  • Any 593 - Thesis (90 points)
  • Any 594 - Thesis (120 points)

The 590, 591, 592, 593, and 594 must comprise a research topic involving a substantial component of GIS and must be developed in consultation with the programme convenor for the subject and the GIS specialisation coordinator.

Students who have not completed GEOGY328 - Geographic Information Systems or equivalent will be required to complete GEOG558 - Applied Geographic Information Systems for Research and Planning (15 pts).

Geographic Information Systems papers

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