Geographic Information Science


GIS will be analyzed under a science and historic perspective: Is there a science behind the GIS? When and where did they begin? What are the factors responsible for their creation and evolution?  What are the contributions given by several disciplinary fields? 

The nature of spatial information and the integrating character of the analysis approaches and methods used by GIS and their growing application in different sectors of activity have contributed for a greater disciplinary convergence around the usually referred to as ¿geographic problems¿. The curricular unit will explore these ¿geographic problems¿ that express the main issues raised using geographic information and associated technologies, setting the limits and scope of this new knowledge area.

Geographic Information Systems have the potential to improve our understanding of the real-world forms and processes. This potential is related with GIS functions, or key geographical information activities, that can be enhanced using geographic information technologies and geographic information systems.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Marco Octávio Trindade Painho


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language

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




- Longley, P. A., Goodchild, M. F., Maguire, D., & Rhind, D. W. (2011). Geographic Information Systems and Science

(3 ed.). Chichester:John Wiley &Sons.

- Notas do professor disponíveis no moodle

- Outras leituras de prepaparação para os trabalhos

Teaching method

The curricular unit is based on theoretical lectures and seminar sessions. The theoretical lectures include

presentation of concepts and methodologies and discussion.

The seminar sessions are geared towards the presentation of topics by students followed by discussion.

Preparation for the term papers is carried out outside the classroom.

Evaluation method

-Participation in class ¿ 5%

-Individual term paper presented and discussed in class (Max 5000 words). To be written in Conference format. 15 min presentation + 10 min discussion - 40%. Topics for term papers are proposed by students by no later than November 11th in a 200 wordabstract containing title, summary and initial references (submitted in the platform). Submission (in the platform) of term papers and presentations are due the day after the last discussion.

-Two midterms - 20% + 20% = 40%

-Lightning Talks presented (5min) and discussed (2min) in class. To be submitted in presentation format - 15%. Topics proposed by email by October 7th.

Subject matter

The curricular unit is organized in four Learning Units (LU):

LU1. An introduction to Geographic Information Science (GISc)

1.The importance and the particularities of Geographic Information

2.Geospatial Awareness - Understanding the distinctive features of geographic data

3.From Geospatial Awareness to GISc

4.Towards a GISc definition

5.A history of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

LU2. Components of Geographic Information Science

6.Ontology and Representation



9.Applications, Institutions and Society

10.Crosscutting Research Themes: Time and Scale

LU3. Functional Components of GIS

11.The 4 M¿s activities that can be enhanced through the use of GIS: Measurement Mapping Monitoring Modelling

12.An Holistic Model of GIS

13.GIS Functional Components: Input Storage and Management Manipulation and analysis Output