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GEOG 583 - Geospatial System Analysis and Design

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 583 is a required course in the Penn State Master of Geographic Information Systems degree program. This course surveys a range of contemporary systems analysis and design methods through case studies, collaborative work, and critical reading/writing. Key topics in this course outline the broad range of current GIS's, how they are designed and evaluated, and how emerging technologies may impact their design and implementation in the near future.

This course will challenge you to exercise the analytical and writing skills needed to develop successful project reports and proposals. Assignments focus on helping students improve their ability to discuss, write, and critique technical and research articles on the design of geographic information systems. A semester-long project involves writing a design proposal or system requirements document for the development of a real or hypothetical geographic information system.


Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Design a GISystem that solves a spatial problem using the main stages of GIS Design;
  • Write a proposal describing a GISystem Design;
  • Justify the development, implementation, and evaluation focused on solving a GIS problem;
  • Discuss a variety of new and emerging technology trends that relate to GISs;
  • Apply and discuss the different stages of GIS design.

Required Materials

Typically, there are no required materials for this course. If this changes, students will find a definitive list in the course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.


GEOG 484


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 10 – 12 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, and grades will be based on timely submission of assignments with percentages assigned to each of several components of the course as follows:

  • Class participation: 15% of total course grade
    Individual participation via online discussions. Students will be encouraged to post questions and answer each other's questions during online discussions. 
  • Term Project: 85% of your total course grade
    The term project for this course involves multiple components that you'll create to develop a professional report or proposal. The deliverables are:
    • Topic Idea and Literature Search
    • Needs Assessment and User Analysis
    • Concept Selection
    • Wireframe Design
    • System Architecture
    • Data Storage
    • Evaluation
    • UML Design
    • Video Presentation
    • Final Term Project

Course Schedule

Course Schedule
1Lesson 1: Design Basics
  • Lesson 1 Discussion
  • Term Project: Topic Idea and Literature Search
2Lesson 2: Needs Assessment
  • Technology Trend Discussion
  • Term Project: Needs Assessment and User Analysis
3Lesson 3: Analyzing Available Solutions
  • Term Project: Concept Selection
4Lesson 4: Developing Designs
  • Term Project: Wireframe Design
5Lesson 5: Software Architectures
  • Technology Trend Discussion
  • Term Project: System Architecture
6Lesson 6: Open Source Geospatial Software
  • Term Project: Data Storage
7Lesson 7: Evaluating GISystems
  • Term Project: Evaluation
8Lesson 8: Programming Languages
  • Term Project: UML Design
  • Term Project: Peer Review Discussion
9Lesson 9: Data & Databases
  • Technology Trend Discussion
  • Term Project: Presentation
10Lesson 10: Mini-Conference
  • Mini-Conference Discussion
  • Term Project: Final Draft