Spatial Databases


This curricular unit aims to deliver an introductory perspective to the fundamental aspects related with the modeling, development, management and use of spatial databases. To achieve this goal, theoretical reference materials and several practical exercises regarding real-life implementations are provided to students. As such, its main objectives are:

1. To provide and discuss key concepts regarding the database approach to data processing, including the origins of the concept, its approach, strong and weak points, available data models and the main steps to follow in database design, implementation and management;

2. To introduce the Relational Model, the most influential and more frequently used database model in present-day database implementation;  

3. To demonstrate, also through a practical example, the available methodologies to model and build a relational database, beginning with logical design, which encompasses two techniques: the EAR (Entity-Attribute-Relationship) Model, and Normalization. Physical database design is also discussed;   

4. To present the Structured Query Language (SQL) and its main instructions used to create, manipulate and interrogate a relational database. The popular database software Microsoft Access will be used to demonstrate this language and its many uses;

5. To introduce Spatial Databases and its specificities, similarities and differences to the conventional (non-spatial) database designs previously discussed and to present briefly the latest developments in the field;  

6. To provide a practical approach to the ESRI Geodatabase model, focused on creating, managing, editing and using ESRI Geodatabases in the ArcGIS Desktop environment;

7. To present Open-Source Spatial Databases, a relatively recent development. This approach is developed through several practical examples, implemented in PostgreSQL with its Spatial Extension PostGIS. The Open-Source GIS Software QGIS is also used for access and visualization purposes.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Miguel André Fouto Pinho de Oliveira


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language

Portuguese. If there are Erasmus students, classes will be taught in English




Modelação de Bases de Dados Relacionais:

Powell, Gavin. (2006).Beginning Database Design. Wrox

Linguagem SQL:

Damas, Luis. (2005). Structured Query Language, 6ª Edição, FCA.

Linguagem SQL (Websites):

Bases de Dados Espaciais em geral:

Stefanakis, E. (2014) Geographic Databases and Information Systems, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Yeoung,A.; Brent Hall, G.(2007).Spatial Database Systems - Design, Implementation and Project Management, Springer

Shekhar, Shashi; Chawla, Sanjay (2003). Spatial Databases: A Tour, Prentice Hall.

Bases de Dados Espaciais ESRI:

Arctur, David; Zeiler, Michael (2004). Designing Geodatabases - Case Studies in GIS Data Modeling, ESRI Press

Bases de Dados Espaciais ESRI (Websites):

Teaching method

1. E-Learning component:

  • Synchronous tools: E-Learning Synchronous Sessions Teacher/Class; Videoconference Sessions Teacher/Student; Self-Evaluation Tests; Final Examination Test.
  • Asynchronous tools: Discussion Forum; Access to learning contents on the e-learning platform.

2. Classroom component (can be replaced by videoconference): Presentation and discussion of the Final Project. 

Evaluation method

  • Self-assessment (only for progression between learning units);
  • Final exam - 20% of the curricular unit´s final classification;
  • Final project (group or individual):
    • Project report: 40% of the curricular unit´s final classification;
    • Project discussion and defense (individual): 40% of the curricular unit´s final classification.

Subject matter

Module 1: Introduction
Module 2: Aspects of Database Theory
Module 3: Aspects of the Relational Model
Module 4: Database Modeling 
Module 5: SQL Tutorial
Module 6: Spatial Databases
Module 7: Creating, Managing and Editing ArcGIS Desktop Geodatabases
Module 8: Open-Source Spatial Databases