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School of Geography

Geographical Information Systems MSc
(Distance learning) 2018 start


Key facts

  • Start date:
  • Duration/Mode:
    36 months distance learning
  • UK/EU fees: See fees section below
    International fees: See fees section below
  • Entry requirements:
    A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a related subject + internet access
  • Language requirements:
    IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in listening, speaking and reading and 6.5 in writing.
  • Course terms and conditions

Applications for this course are now closed with our last intake in July 2018.

A new version of our Geographical Information Systems MSc (distance learning) course will launch in September 2019 with applications opening on the 3rd of September 2018.

This innovative programme combines expertise from the universities of Leeds and Southampton, both renowned for their Geographic Information Systems (GIS) teaching and research. It builds on the University of Leeds’ considerable experience in successfully delivering taught Masters programmes in GIS and draws on the University of Southampton’s expertise in teaching GIS in non-traditional settings.

The programme is designed to meet a wide range of requirements, covering areas of specialisation as diverse as business, environment, health and planning and is well-suited to an international audience.

It offers open distance learning for people working in commercial or public sector organisations, who need core training and skills development, as well as those who simply want to study in their own environment and at their own pace.

You’ll benefit from tutor support, including regular newsletter updates, and online discussion with fellow-students, and will have access to online resources at both universities.

Student profile

"The staff support was incredible. There was never a single moment I felt if I was in the UK, things would have been done differently."

Edidiong Chioma Amos, Geographical Information Systems MSc (Distance learning)
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More information

The Business, Planning and Developer streams are taught entirely by the University of Leeds, the Health and Remote Sensing streams are taught by the University of Southampton and the Environment stream is taught jointly by both universities. If you choose an environment, health or remote sensing stream you will complete your dissertation and graduate with a qualification from the University of Southampton. If you choose any of the other streams you will graduate with a qualification from the University of Leeds. Read more about the programme on the GIS Online Learning website.

You can also study this subject at Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate levels.

The programme manager is Helen Durham.

Course terms and conditions

Course content

The programme runs over three years on a part-time basis, with study to Postgraduate Certificate level in year one, Postgraduate Diploma level in year two and an MSc achieved after three years.

The first year consists of four core modules, providing an introduction to theories and concepts that underpin GIS, skills in GIS software and database systems, knowledge of spatial analysis, statistical and mathematical modelling and the requirement to undertake a feasibility study of GIS in a workplace.

In year two you tailor your study to specialise in areas as diverse as business, environment, health, planning, remote sensing and GIS development. This is ideal for students already in full-time employment and looking to enhance their existing GIS skills to progress in their chosen career or make a career change.

In year three, you further build on your interests and expertise by undertaking a programme of independent research through the dissertation module. This gives you the opportunity to develop research in any area of GIS, expanding on work undertaken as part of the course, studying a problem of personal interest or researching a topic relevant to a workplace. You’ll be supported by a supervisor from amongst the distance learning teaching staff. We aim to submit the best dissertations for journal publication.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Principles of GIS (WUN) 15 credits
  • GIS in the Workplace (WUN) 15 credits
  • Using GIS (WUN) 15 credits
  • Spatial Analysis and GIS (WUN) 15 credits

Year 2

Optional modules

  • Applied Environmental GIS (WUN) 15 credits
  • Geodemographics and Database Marketing (WUN) 15 credits
  • GIS and Planning (WUN) 15 credits
  • Applied Population and Demographic Analysis (WUN) 15 credits
  • Applied GIS and Retail Modelling (WUN) 15 credits
  • Geocomputation (WUN) 15 credits
  • Web-based GIS (WUN) 15 credits
  • Programming for Geographical Information Analysis (WUN): Core Skills 15 credits
  • GIS for Health Care Management (WUN) 15 credits
  • Topographic Data Analysis Techniques and Applications (WUN) 15 credits
  • Remote Sensing for Earth Observation (WUN) 15 credits
  • GIS for Environmental Management (WUN) 15 credits
  • GIS for Analysis of Health (WUN) 15 credits

Year 3

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation (WUN) 60 credits

Learning and teaching

The University of Leeds and the University of Southampton are linked seamlessly through the Worldwide Universities Network.

You’ll be provided with a variety of online learning materials throughout the programme. You’ll work as part of a virtual online community, discussing the materials online, collaborating in group tasks, participating in group exercises and generally supporting one another.

You’ll also get plenty of one-on-one support. Our qualified tutors are experts in the theory and practice of GIS and are there to support you and your group. Our tutors will act as mentors and provide you with personal guidance as you progress, advising you on how to make the most of the course and helping you to overcome any obstacles that you encounter. Any work you hand in will be returned to you with detailed comments and advice. Past students have found this comprehensive personal feedback one of the most valuable aspects of their study.


Assessment is through coursework with no exams. There is a mix of essays and reports, the latter usually based on analysis of real world datasets. Most modules have two assessments which are due for submission at the end of each three-month study period.

Applying, fees and funding

Entry requirements

A bachelor degree in geography or a related subject at 2:1 (hons) or its equivalent.

Relevant work experience and training courses are viewed positively and are taken into account particularly for candidates whose first degree grade falls below the normal minimum requirement.

Students without a background in geography but who have a degree that demonstrates good numeracy and/or computing skills are encouraged to apply.

Access to a personal computer with a good, reliable broadband connection.

Access to the following software:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • an internet browser
  • Microsoft Office or an equivalent open source package
  • Windows operating system (2000, XP, Vista or 7, 8 or later)

You will also need to buy course-specific software – see Additional Costs (below).

If you’re interested in this programme but are unsure if you have the necessary background, please get in touch with us to discuss your position.

International qualifications

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For information contact our Admissions Team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in listening, speaking and reading and 6.5 in writing.. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

If you need to study for longer than 10 weeks, read more about our postgraduate pre-sessional English course.

How to apply

Applications for this course are now closed with our last intake in July 2018.

A new version of our Geographical Information Systems MSc (distance learning) course will launch in September 2019 with applications opening on the 3rd of September 2018.

Admissions Policy

Faculty of Environment Postgraduate Admissions Policy 2018

International students

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy


UK/EU fees: See fees section below
International fees: See fees section below

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Additional cost information

Students must have access to a personal computer with a good, reliable broadband connection and certain software, including some course-specific software (ArcGIS for Desktop and SPSS Statistics), which must be bought.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

We have a number of scholarships available to students enrolling onto this programme. Find out more about our scholarships.

Career opportunities

Typical roles undertaken by our recent graduates are:

  • Assistant Analyst
  • Business Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Quality and GIS officer
  • GIS Analyst and Surveying Engineer
  • GIS Project Manager
  • Market Analyst
  • PhD study
  • Researcher
  • Technical Consultant.

Some of the organisations our graduates work for are:
  • Analysis LLP
  • Asda
  • Atkins
  • Callcredit
  • Experian
  • Integrated Skills
  • Intelligent Space Partnership
  • JBA Consulting
  • Makedoniki ETM, Greece
  • MapInfo Ltd
  • The Environment Agency.

Careers support

The School of Geography has a very strong commitment to enhancing student employability. Read more about our employability support.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Alumni profile

"During the course my company was implementing a brand new GIS and this course gave me the tools I needed to successfully deliver that project and contributed to my career development immeasurably. "

Gareth Davies, MSc in Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
Read More