Skip to main content

GEOG 483 - Problem Solving with GIS

This is a sample syllabus.

This sample syllabus is a representative example of the information and materials included in this course. Information about course assignments, materials, and dates listed here is subject to change at any time. Definitive course details and materials will be available in the official course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.


Geography 483 consists of readings, hands-on projects, quizzes, and discussions concerned with how geographic information systems facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems. Students who successfully complete the course are able to use GIS software to analyze both vector and raster data using a variety of techniques, including spatial and attribute queries, map overlay, and buffering. Students also gain experience in designing and producing effective maps. Geography 483 requires the use of ArcGIS Pro and extensions and QGIS.


At the successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Perform basic spatial analysis (attribute and spatial queries, buffering, overlays) and link those methods together in a more complex analytical model;
  • Utilize geocoding to display address locations and recognize spatial patterns within the information;
  • Create presentation-quality maps that clearly communicate spatial information and analysis;
  • Demonstrate the ability to differentiate between vector and raster data;
  • Formulate a workflow that solves a problem by utilizing appropriate GIS skills and concepts.

Required Materials

The materials listed here represent those that may be included in this course. Students will find a definitive list in the course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.

Required Textbook

Bolstad, P. (2019). GIS Fundamentals: A first text on Geographic Information Systems, 6th ed. XanEdu Publishing Inc.

Required Software

  • ArcGIS Pro (free for active Penn State students)
  • ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) and extensions (free for active Penn State students)
  • QGIS (no cost)


GEOG 482: Making Maps that Matter with GIS


We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. How much and how well you learn is dependent on your attitude, diligence, and willingness to ask for clarifications or help when you need them. We are here to help you succeed. Please keep up with the class schedule and take advantage of opportunities to communicate with us and with your fellow students. You can expect to spend an average of 12 – 15 hours per week on class work.

Major Assignments

Students earn grades that reflect the extent to which they achieve the learning objectives listed above. Opportunities to demonstrate learning include the following:

  • 4 Class Projects: 40% of total course grade
  • 4 Quizzes: 20% of total course grade
  • 4 Graded Discussion Forums: 10% of total course grade
  • 1 Final Project, Final Quiz, and Peer Review: 30% of total course grade

Course Schedule

Course Schedule
  • Introduce yourself
1Lesson 1: Decision Support with GIS
  • Project 1
2Lesson 2: Manipulating and Summarizing Attribute Data
  • Discussion forum
  • Quiz
3Lesson 3: Analyzing Spatial Data in a GIS
  • Project 3
4Lesson 4: Address Geocoding
  • Discussion forum
  • Quiz
5Lesson 5: Layouts
  • Project 5
6Lesson 6: Acquiring and Manipulating Data
  • Discussion forum
  • Quiz
7Lesson 7: Introduction to Raster GIS Analysis
  • Project 7
8Lesson 8: Network Analysis
  • Discussion forum
  • Quiz
9Final Project and Peer Review
  • Final Project
  • Final Quiz
  • Peer Review
10Final Project and Peer Review
  • Final Project
  • Final Quiz
  • Peer Review