Geographical Information Systems

International Students can apply

3 good reasons to study Geographical Information Systems at Salford


UNIGIS UK combines the teaching and research expertise of staff from two UK universities (Salford and Manchester Metropolitan)


Widely known by employers for being relevant and up to date


Flexible course delivery, web-based distance learning part-time, to fit round work commitments

Course Summary

The application of GIS is growing rapidly, which opens up a range of opportunities for graduates of this course.

As a UNIGIS student you will be joining an extensive community with representatives in over 30 countries.

By selecting from the range of taught modules available in the second year, you will effectively determine which of the four MSc degrees they ultimately be awarded:

  • Geographical Information Systems
  • Applied Geographical Information Systems
  • Geographical Information Technologies

This course is delivered in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University. Please apply for your place via the UNIGIS UK website.

Please note, University of Salford alumni loyalty discounts do not apply to this course.

Course Details

The UNIGIS courses all provide a good grounding in Geographical Information Systems, Science and Technology, but each has a different focus.  Geographical Information Systems provides a broad introduction to the major aspects of contemporary GIS.  Applied GIS is focused more on the application of GIS and Geographical information, in the human and natural environments.  Geographical Information Technologies looks at the various technologies that underpin GI solutions.

Course Structure

The courses are taught in part-time distance learning mode ONLY over a period of three years. The first two years are spent on taking taught modules and the third year is for your MSc dissertation and project.  The courses start in September each year.

Year 1

All modules in the first year are compulsory and common to all three programmes

This module provides an introduction to Geographical Information Systems (GIS) from conceptual, theoretical and practical perspectives.  The unit concludes with a review of contemporary issues in GIS.
Spatial data are key to any GIS project.  This module investigates how spatial data are sourced, captured and assessed against recognised international standards.
This module provides a thorough understanding of database design and implementation and highlights their importance (and limitations) in the context of GIS.

Year 2

In the second year you will take one compulsory module and two specialist modules relating to the course you have selected to study.

This module examines the concepts, theories and methods behind the application of GIS. The approaches taken in GIS research design, data analysis and interpretation and presentation are investigated.  Special focus is given to methods of spatial analysis and their implementation using GIS software.  

For Applied Geographical Information Systems, select two modules from:

This module investigates how GIS and related technologies can be used in environmental applications and seeks to critically evaluate their potential value.  Case studies are used to demonstrate how researchers can use spatial data, from sources such as remote sensing, along with decision-making tools, to investigate different environmental phenomena.
This module will provide you with an introduction to the principles that underpin remote sensing and explores its role in data gathering/information extraction for GIS applications.  Practical experience in working with remotely sensed data will be gained.
This module investigates how GIS can be applied to different social applications and seeks to critically evaluate their potential strengths and limitations for those applications. Real world case study examples will be used to critically examine how GIS can be used in social applications and to evaluate their potential value.

Students not wishing to continue onto the dissertation project can be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Geographical Information Systems if leaving the course at this stage.

For Geographical Information Systems, select two modules from:

This module explains the concepts and methods of internet-based GIS, its development and applications.  You will be provided with the knowledge and practical skills to design and implement distributed GIS services according to the latest technologies and standards.
This module develops geospatial skills in building enterprise-oriented databases (e.g. geo-database and server) and creating application-oriented GIS models through programming. This module will also develop your critical appreciation of trends in enterprise GIS and GIS application development from the perspective of software engineering and geo-spatial technology.

Students not wishing to continue onto the dissertation project can be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma in Geographical Information Systems if leaving the course at this stage.

For Geographical Information Technologies, there are two compulsory modules: 

See description above.

Students not wishing to continue onto the dissertation project can be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma in Geographical Information Technologies if leaving the course at this stage.

Year 3

In this module you will design and undertake a substantial and unique independent research project, to be presented as an academic dissertation. The nature of the project will depend on which of the three MSc you are taking.

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements are those set by MMU:

Applicants should normally possess a relevant honours degree

Applicants with an HND and relevant professional experience will be considered on an individual basis.

Alternative qualifications and/or significant experience in a relevant specialized field will also be considered on an individual basis.

Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

International students must provide evidence of proficiency in English - IELTS 6.5 band score or above are proof of this.

Suitable For

The three UNIGIS courses are largely for UK and international graduates already working with GIS who wish to broaden their understanding and further develop their skills.  However, those wanting to study GIS in order to change career paths are also catered for, irrespective of prior knowledge of GIS


The UNIGIS programmes are all taught via online distance learning.  UNIGIS had a dedicated Virtual Learning Environment through which all course materials are delivered.  You will be supplied with specialist GIS software for the practical aspects of the programme you study.


All the UNIGIS programmes are assessed by 100% coursework.

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Dr Mike Wood is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Management in the School of Environment & Life Sciences and is Course Leader for the UNIGIS courses at Salford.  Mike’s teaching and research interests are in the application of GIS and spatial modelling techniques to support environmental decision making.  For example, he has used GIS to study ecosystem services in South Asia and environmental pollution in Australia.  Mike has also worked on the development of GIS-based decision support systems (DSS), including a DSS for river catchment management.


The UNIGIS programmes are particularly suited to those who wish to develop their GIS skills further to gain promotion, but many students use them as a way to get into GIS. Employment prospects are wide and include: analysts/programmers, cartographers/surveyors, consultants, GIS specialists, information technology/ information systems, lecturing, marketing, oil exploration, planning and project management.

Alumni Profile

Emma Lewison

GIS & Data Manager – Forestry Commission, Northamptonshire, UK

After completing two GIS modules as part of my undergraduate geography degree I was lucky enough to succeed in gaining employment with the Forestry Commission as a GIS & Data Manager. This role enabled my to develop the skills I had already gained. After being in post for a few years I felt that I wanted to update my skills and knowledge to include a more technical understanding of GIS. This led me to the UNIGIS UK GI Technologies course. I felt that with the direction of GIS moving towards the cloud, web based and smart phone based options learning about the theories and fundamentals behind this would be beneficial. I really enjoyed the learning style of UNIGIS with the online materials, forums and study groups. From my study group of 6, I am still in contact with three so even through distance learning I have made friends. The breadth of knowledge that the staff and modules have was fantastic and the support from the tutors was brilliant. The GI Technologies option has opened many more doors for professional career and I hope to build on the skills I have learnt with UNIGIS.


Links with Industry

Links exist with a wide range of public and private sector companies through the organisations that our students work for.  All modules in the UNIGIS programmes are recognised by the Association for Geographic Information for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) 

93% of Environmental Life Sciences graduates go on to employ ment and/or further study within 6 months of graduating.

DLHE 2009 and 2010

Further Study

The UNIGIS courses are mainly aimed at those in employment, but there are possibilities to undertake research in the area of GIS.

Fees and Funding

Fees 2016-17

Type of StudyFee
Distance Learning£3,150
International Distance Learning£3,900

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.


Please note, University of Salford alumni loyalty discounts do not apply to this course.