Studying online

UNIGIS delivers its study programs through online distance education. Studying online in a distance-learning format differs from ordinary, residential studies. This does not regard contents. Like in a residential study, you will have conceptual parts as well as hands-on exercises. For students in the MSc track, there will further be a block that is dedicated to academic working skills.

The main difference is its didactical format: an online study is to a large part self-paced. While this provides all the flexibility that is necessary to integrate your study with other professional or private obligations, it poses challenges in terms of self-discipline and time management.

However, studying online does not mean studying alone. Right from the beginning, you will take the modules in a cohort of students from the same intake. We encourage active communication and collaboration with your peers via discussion fora and the formation of learning groups.

So, how does distance learning work in practice? See below an overview of the main cornerstones.

The program is organised as a series of consecutive core modules, each of which has a duration of two months. Each module is worth 6 ECTS, which corresponds to 150 hours of student workload.

Modules are designed with emphasis on student-centred learning, which allows organisational diversity. Learning materials include activities such as individual processing of a variety of materials and online tutorials, self-assessed exercises, hands-on assignments, use of various software, collaborative discussions, and projects. The majority of these materials are made available through the elearning platform Moodle.

In addition to the core modules, there are elective subjects and the MSc program also includes a block on acadmic work as well as a Master Thesis.

Any kind of studies requires a lot of support, good time management and all support from family, friends and colleagues. This is also true for online distance education. The UNIGIS Team will encourage, mentor and guide you throughout your studies and offer the following forms of support:

  • The Tutor is your universal point of contact, i.e. communicates and supports you throughout your study.
  • The Lecturer is responsible for teaching/presenting/facilitating an UNIGIS module and its assessment/grading.
  • The UNIGIS Office is in charge of administration and organisation of the course and can help you with enrolment, payment, progress stages of your course, etc.
  • The Study Program Team constantly monitors your overall progress and complements your mentoring.

From our experience, learning in a group is a critical factor for individual motivation and learning success. The more you actively participate the more you benefit from it.

Means of communication amongst students and with the UNIGIS team are discussion fora, online meetings, social media, and email for individual support.

  • UNIGIS Salzburg has arranged for licenses for proprietary GIS software (e.g. ArcGIS Pro, ERDAS Image Professional) and works as well with free and open source software. For an overview on licensed software, please refer to the UNIGIS industry partners.
  • As we processes raster data (images) in GIS, a good graphics card is recommended. For further specifications, see ArcGIS Pro specifications for hardware and software.
  • Desktop Software: During your UNIGIS studies you have access to several software free of charge as long as you use them for non-commercial purposes. MS Office is recommended but alternative software (e.g. Open Office) with a possibility to generate PDF-documents can be used.
  • If you plan to use your work-place computer for your studies, it is recommended that you have administration rights on it to install software. During your study, you will work with multiple GIS programs, as well as a variety of smaller apps and applications.
  • Communication: mainly through discussion fora, web-conferencing software and a stable email-address of your own choice. Communication software is provided, you will jsut need a headset and a webcam.
  • For further questions about the minimum hardware specifications an UNIGIS workplace we are happy to advise: please contact UNIGIS Office.

is performed at two different levels:

  • Self-assessment is enabled through exercises and quizzes included in individual lessons. Quizzes usually provide feedback to a student based on availability of correct answers. Exercises are designed to enforce students’ knowledge and skills (“learning by doing”). These should be completed to allow participants to assess their own progress.
  • Exams are delivered as student homework that is assigned per module as a set of individual assignments. Assignments need to be solved and the solution document is handed in via the elearning platform at the end of each module. The assignments vary in nature and include topics such as using a GIS software to solve a task at hand, evaluate different analysis methods, or conduct case studies.
  • A five-tier grading scale is used for exam assessment;
    1 (Excellent)
    2 (Good)
    3 (Satisfactory)
    4 (Sufficient)
    5 (Fail)

The University of Salzburg issues an international UNIGIS graduation certificate, i.e. transcript and diploma supplement. The grading scale in the transcript complies with the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) scale.