This laboratory course uses hands-on experience to provide students with essential mapping and spatial analysis skills. This course balances lectures on the core principles of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with applied instruction on managing, processing and interpreting spatial data. It should be particularly useful for students interested in conducting environmental, demographic, suitability and transportation-related research.

Students are not expected to have prior experience with GIS; however, a desire to learn and explore is essential. This course is fast-paced and requires a large amount of independent work. It relies on student initiative and interest and is a work-in-progress. Students are strongly encouraged to share experiences, knowledge and suggestions with the instructors and each other.

Course Structure

The course web page is central to the organization of the course. It provides the latest syllabus and assignments. It also provides hints for solving common problems. The web page is updated with new assignments, links and hints as the course progresses. In addition, the web page provides web links for data sources and additional information on GIS and analysis topics.

Class will be held in the computer lab and will consist of a mixture of lectures on the principles of GIS and spatial data, demonstrations of GIS processes and in-class lab exercises.

Additional Information

To complete the course, students must devote considerable time and effort. Students with some past experience will be able to complete the course assignments with little help. Other students are encouraged to work in small groups to learn together, but each student will be responsible for his or her own assignments. Students who need additional assistance are encouraged to work in the computer lab to obtain help from other students or the instructors.

The computer lab assistants can be helpful should you encounter hardware problems (printing, memory, lost files, etc.), but do not have sufficient knowledge of GIS to help you with mapping questions.

GIS skills have proven to be very helpful to the field of planning. Upon completion of this course, students should have the necessary skills to construct maps and perform analysis which can be used in a variety of planning settings. Students will be exposed to a variety of introductory GIS concepts and topics, but those students who desire to know more about the theoretical basis of mapping should enroll in UP206B: Advanced GIS as well as other courses offered in the Geography Department.


If you need any help regarding any of the lab assignments, tutorials, GIS related matters, use the discussion board to post your question.  The instructor and TA’s are constantly monitoring the boards, so you should get a prompt response.  This will also help other students who may have the same question.  Please do NOT email the instructor or TA’s without first consulting the discussion board.

Office Hours

Yoh Kawano (Instructor):  Available by appointment.  Times Thursday from 3-5. Email: Yohman@ucla.edu

Jen Karmels (Assistant): Office hours TBD. Email: jkarmels@gmail.com

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