Geographical Information Systems

Elective Course | 6 ECTS | Námskeið: CMM 21

Kennari: Jirka Pánek

Námskeiðslýsing í kennsluskrá

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This course is about the power of maps. Learning the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) may at first appear a rather technical challenge. In this day and age we can not avoid the use of digital technology in our quest for understanding the world around us. Yet GIS still has the centuries-old study and practice of making maps at its heart. And while computers can help us undertake spatial analyses and geographic visualisations much more efficiently, an understanding of the underlying principles and concepts of cartography is just as important to fully exploit the potential that modern GIS tools can have. Therefore this course aims to include as much engagement with maps and aspects of visualisation as it showcases and exercises the use of GIS as a valuable tool to apply and utilise these skills.


My name is Jirka Pánek and I am a geographer and participatory mapping researcher at Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic. I have mixed background with BSc and MSc in Geography-Geoinformatics, PhD in International Development Studies, and habilitation (associate professorship) is Social and Regional Development. After completing my PhD I was Ruth Crawford Mitchell Fellow at the Urban Studies Programme of the University of Pittsburgh (2017) and Fulbright-Masaryk Research Fellow at the Centre for Geospatial Analysis of the North Carolina State University (2021-2022). I came to Iceland for the first time in 2015 and worked on my currently the most cited research – Emotional mapping and its participatory potential: Opinions about cycling conditions in Reykjavík, Iceland. I focus on using open data and open source GIS, as I believe it helps to increase both participation as well as usage of GIS.


The course provides an introduction to the concepts, principles, approaches, and issues associated with Geographical Information Systems, including community-based mapping. No previous exposure to GIS is necessary. The course will provide the student with an understanding of the basic concepts of GIS and the role of GIS as a tool in coastal zone management. It will provide students with an understanding of the techniques of GIS data and spatial analysis. The course involves lectures as well as a laboratory component with an emphasis on practical experience using GIS software.

On completion of the course, a student: 

  • can identify the main sources of spatially referenced data.
  • can explain GIS data, data models and spatial databases.
  • can illustrate how GIS is used in coastal studies.  
  • has demonstrated skills and practical experience in handling spatially referenced data.
  • can appraise issues relating to data quality in GIS.
  • can locate and utilize existing geographic information data sets, online and elsewhere, for specific project areas.
  • can identify which mapping methods and tools are most appropriate for achieving the desired objectives in a given community and/ or situation.