GEOG 861  The Earth is Round and Maps are Flat: Working with Spatial Reference Systems in 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.
Overview
This class cultivates a working knowledge of geodetic datums, map projections, and grid systems that professionals need to process geospatial data effectively for mapping and analysis.
For students who work with spatial problems that require highprecision locational accuracy, this class will help you choose among the dizzying array of projections, datums, grid systems, and transformation processes to move between those systems to ensure spatial analysis and mapping work is accurate. Since GIS often involves merging multiple datasets, each of which is likely to be the product of a different projection and datum, GIS professionals need to be knowledgeable about these advanced topics to process geospatial data effectively for mapping and analysis.
Objectives
GEOG 861 will provide students with an understanding of the concepts, terminology, and processes that will be useful in manipulating and handling datums, map projections, and coordinate systems.
At the successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
 learn the often complex terminology that is associated with geodetic datums, map projections, and grid systems
 use that terminology to modify and adjust geodetic datum, map projection, and grid system parameters for specific mapping purpose outcomes
 contrast the differences between a geometric and geopotential datum and the characteristics that define each
 explain why a specific geodetic datum, map projection, and grid system was adopted for various mapping situations in the GIS environment
 understand how to weave through the often complex GIS environment’s interface when specifying geodetic datum, map projection, and grid system parameters
 understand what impacts will occur as map projection parameters and geodetic datum definitions are modified for a specific coordinate system
 transform datasets from one geodetic datum to another geodetic datum
 perform a coordinate conversion from one map projection into a different map projection
 integrate disparate geodetic datums, map projections, and grid systems into a GIS environment, paying particular attention to the processes involved in aligning all datasets into a single coordinate system definition
 explain the mathematical processes involved in coordinate conversions and geodetic datum transformations
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
Sickle, Jan Van. 2010. Basic GIS Coordinates. 3rd edition. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press (ISBN: 9781498774628).
Required Software
ArcGIS Pro (available for free to current Penn State students)
Geocart (free version)
Recommended Texts
Iliffe, Jonathan, and Lott, Roger. 2008. Datums and Map Projections for Remote Sensing, GIS, and Surveying. 2nd edition. Dunbeath Caithness, Scotland: Whittles Publishing (also available through CRC Press). (ISBN: 9781420070415).
Meyer, Thomas. 2010. Introduction to Geometrical and Physical Geodesy: Foundations of Geomatics. ESRI Press, Redlands, CA (ISBN: 9781589482159).
Torge, Wolfgang and Müller, Jurgen. 2012. Geodesy. 4th edition. De Gruyter. Berlin. (ISBN: 9783110207187).
Lu, Zhiping, Qu, Yunying, and Qiao, Shubo. 2014. Geodesy: Introduction to Geodetic Datum and Geodetic Systems. Springer (ISBN: 9783642412448).
Maher, Margaret. 2010. Lining up Data in ArcGIS: A Guide to Map Projections. 3rd edition. Redlands, California: ESRI Press (ISBN: 9781589485204).
Flacke, Werner and Kraus, Birgit. 2005. Working with Projections and Datum Transformations in ArcGIS: Theory and Practical Examples. Norden, Germany: Points Verlag (ISBN: 3980846350).
Snyder, John. 1987. Map Projections: A Working Manual. United States Geological Survey. Washington D.C.
Hooijberg, Maarten. 2008. Geometrical Geodesy: Using Information and Computer Technology. Springer Berlin, Heidelberg (ISBN: 9783540254492).
Kessler, Fritz. and Battersby, Sarah. 2019. Working with Projections: A Guide to their Selection. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. (ISBN 9781138304987).
Prerequisites
Prerequisites: GEOG 484 or permission of the instructor.
Expectations
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
Weekly Projects (comprising of approximately 70% of the course grade)
Each lesson concludes with a handson project to be completed individually by the student.
Weekly Quizzes (comprising of approximately 20% of the course grade)
A quiz will be held at the end of each lesson to test the student's comprehension of class materials and other reading as required.
Class participation (comprising of approximately 10% of the course grade)
Individual participation via each week's online discussion forum.
Course Schedule
Week  Topic  Assignment 

1  Coordinate Reference Systems and the EPSG Geodetic Parameter Database 

2  Horizontal Datum Fundamentals 

3  Horizontal Datum Transformation Methods 

4  Vertical Datum and Transformations 

5  Map Projection Elements 

6  Map Projection Scale Factors and Distortion 

7  Cartometric Activities with Map Projections 

8  Grid Mapping Systems  State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS) 

9  Grid Mapping Systems  Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) 

10  Specifying Complete Coordinate Reference System and Parameters 
