Application-oriented GIS program for practicioners

UNIGIS professional provides application-oriented knowledge of Geoinformatics to develop innovative solutions based on relevant concepts and methods. Graduates will be awarded an “Academic Certificate in Geographical Information Systems” by the University of Salzburg.

Target group

Persons aspiring to acquire methodological and application-specific or technology-oriented knowledge, expertise and skills in Geoinformatics. This University distance learning program is suitable for those already engaged in GIS related jobs and/or those who have some background in a spatial discipline.


Academic Certificate in Geographical Information Systems

Starting dates *

Twice a year (March, 1 and October, 1)

Duration *

1+ years, graduation possible up to 1,5 years in total. Average weekly workload 12-15 hrs (depending on prior knowledge)

Tuition fee *

The study program’s tuition fee amounts to € 5,400.- payable in one single installment.

* applies to the Salzburg Global Campus; may differ if delivered through a partner site, see Study locations

Study Content

The study program “UNIGIS professional” is based on modular structure consisting of:

  • 7 core modules (6 ECTS per module)
  • Elective Subjects (18 ECTS), and
  • an introductory online workshop

The program amounts to 60 ECTS credits.

Curriculum overview

This introductory module has a special position as a first study component of the curriculum. It provides orientation and sets the frame for working with the subsequent modules. Specifically, it supports the development of a personal style working with the distance-learning materials. In addition to these objectives regarding the study format, the following domain-related content is offered:

  • Terminology and functional characteristics of geographic information systems.
  • Typical applications of geographic information processing.
  • Current trends in Geoinformatics.
  • Overview of secondary information resources for GIS in terms of life-long learning.
  • Practical training to use professional GIS software.
  • Competent use of coordinate systems and projections in the practical work of GIS.

This module provides a profound overview of common data structures and data models in GIS. It explores how the real world around us can be mapped (application- and goal-oriented) in all its complexity with automate processed structures. Specific module contents include:

  • Basics of a formal description of spatial phenomena and relationships.
  • Modelling spatial information.
  • Spatial models – data models – data structures.
  • Vector model.
  • Raster models (grid).
  • Representation of continuous space.
  • Object-oriented data models.
  • Interoperability, OGC and standardisation.
  • WMS, WFS, WCS and OGC-CS.
  • Standards (GML) and quasi-standards (GeoJSON) for structuring and communication of spatial data.
  • In-service training in another professional GI software.

The third module applies to the practical aspects of the ‘population’ of spatial data structures with real-world information. It gives an overview of the diversity of primary and secondary acquisition methods and thereby provides insights in the genesis and the related suitability for use of spatial data for specific use cases. A substantial part of the access record and listing of important digital resources as well as development of geographic information by standards-compliant documentation. It will also focus on the management of GI projects. Specific module contents include:

  • Identification of required data bases from the application and user perspective.
  • Data quality and cost.
  • Surveying.
  • Global navigation satellite systems.
  • Photogrammetry.
  • LiDAR.
  • Optical sensors and radar.
  • Remote sensing platforms (satellite, aircraft, UAV).
  • Secondary acquisition methods: digitizing, scanning, vectorizing.
  • Address data and geocoding.
  • Data access, interfaces and formats.
  • Metadata, metadata standards.
  • GDI, data catalogs, INSPIRE.
  • Global and national spatial data sources, open government data.
  • Project management.

In this module, the conceptual foundations of conventional database systems are introduced by working on hands-on examples. On this basis, the knowledge is transferred to spatial data management and geodatabase systems. Specific module contents include:

  • Architecture of database management systems.
  • Database design and documentation.
  • Relational data modelling.
  • Normalisation.
  • Solid basics of SQL query language as a universal language for data definition, data control and data management.
  • Practical work with a SQL front end.
  • Glossary of terms and specifications of GeoDBMS.
  • Spatial models in DBMS.
  • Spatial SQL operations according to OGC.

Spatial analysis methods are a central feature of all geographic information systems. This core area of Geoinformatics aims at a transfer of domain issues towards an adequate use of analytical methods and tools of the Geoinformatics, by adequate problem structuring and conceptualisation. This module introduces the fundamental methods and techniques of geographical analysis. Specific module contents include:

  • Approaches and motivation of spatial analysis.
  • Graphic modelling as a practical methodology for design and documentation of analysis processes.
  • Map algebra as a scheme, appropriate operators.
  • Spatial selection and aggregation, regionalisation.
  • Aggregate data, MAUP and ecological fallacy.
  • Distance scales and distance metrics, applications of distance-based methods.
  • Cost surfaces.
  • Spatial interpolation (deterministic, geostatistical).
  • Multi-thematic integration (intersection, assessment, multi-criteria method).
  • Decision support for optimising site locations.
  • Route optimisation and allocation in networks.
  • Terrain analysis (slope, exposure, radiation, visibility, hydrological runoff).

Knowledge on the visual communication of spatial issues is essential, because virtually every GI professional actively design maps. This module aims at professionals from different domains to take advantage of cartographic data processing for their respective tasks. Specific module contents related to conventional as well as digital publication forms (Web mapping, mobile mapping) include:

  • Cartographic application fields and paradigms.
  • Cartographic design process.
  • Generalisation and classification.
  • Perception of forms and Visual Variables.
  • Colour models and colour use (including consideration of colour vision deficiency).
  • Development of map symbols and interaction.
  • Map annotation and text.
  • Thematic maps, diagrams and diagram maps.
  • Map design and layout.
  • Reproduction and digital devices and output formats.
  • 2.5D/3D visualisation.
  • Web mapping technologies and APIs.
  • Dynamic visualisation.

This module serves as introduction to GIS programming. There are different courses available for this topic, on the one hand in order to cover the wide range of technology and software architectures; on the other hand to enable students to choose one based on the professional context and the resulting practical requirements. The specific module contents depend on the selected technology and platform that will be used. However, each course meets all aforementioned learning outcomes.

Elective Subjects advance and/or complement skills and knowledge acquired on UNIGIS core modules for specialised topics. A total of 18 ECTS are to be selected in the “Electives Subjects”.

UNIGIS offers a variety of optional modules that cover a broad range of conceptual and application-oriented topics in Geoinformatics.
A coherent subset of at least 12 ECTS within the Elective Subjects can be bundled together as individual specialisation.

> Specialisation: Application Development and Specialisation: GIS for the Environment

Further details you can find in the Curriculum for the degree study program “Geographic Information Systems (UNIGIS professional)”.

Next start of UNIGIS professional: October, 01 2020
> Apply now

For further starts of the UNIGIS Salzburg professional program delivered through a partner site, see Study Locations.