GEOG 141 Earth From Above

Fall, 1999: M, W, F 10:10am – 11:00am Room CSSC113

Instructor's Information:

Instructor: Fang Qiu
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 777-1282
Office: CSSC 006
Office Hours: F 11:00am - 2:00pm
Web Page:
Mirror Site:

Purpose of Course:

The purpose of the course is to introduce you to the basics of technical geography. The major concentration will be on elementary cartography. It will also cover some of the fundamental topics in GIS, GPS and remote sensing through practical laboratory experience. You will become familiar with the basic types and characteristics of maps, air photos, and remotely-sensed images. You will also learn some of the many skills required to deal with spatial data, from elementary interpretation, measurement, and representation to more sophisticated analytical applications. In an academic setting such as this, these skills will provide you with factual information, especially the modern development of geographic technologies. These skills are invaluable in many vocational and personal activities in which you may involve. At an aesthetic level, it is hoped that you will come to appreciate the unique elegance and efficiency with which these images communicate spatial information about our world.


No prior experience is required. Students are expected (but too not required) to have some elementary experience with using a personal computer with a "Windows" type environment (e.g., Windows 95, 98, NT, etc).


Required: Muehrcke, P. C. & J. O. Muehrcke. 1998. Map Use: Reading, Analysis, and Interpretation, 4th Edition (JP Publications, Madison.)

Optional: Robin A. H. el. al., 1996. Elements of Cartography, 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New York)

Optional: Avery T. E. and G. L. Berlin, 1992. Fundamentals of Remote Sensing and Airphoto Interpretation, 5th Edition (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ)

Course Presentation:

The course consists of three sessions per week. Classes consisting of lectures, laboratories and discussions. Much of the lecture material will come from the required text. You will also be given some handouts for reference.

Grading Policy:

All students are expected to: 1) attend classes, 2) take lecture notes, 3) review the assigned readings, and 4) complete assignments and examinations on time. The final grade will be determined as follows

Lab Assignments 35%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 35%
Class Attendance 10%

Labs. Labs are designed to encourage student to check and practice concepts learned during the course. For some of the lab assignments, you will be using ArcView 3 software to implement concepts discussed in the lecture, other lab assignments will be based on analog maps and images. In many labs, students can complete the laboratory assignment during the 50 minutes. In a few labs, students are expected to use additional time to complete the lab assignment. Lab assignments are due one week after assigned. Penalty points will be deducted from your grade on late assignments at the rate of 5% penalty per day late. In order to pass the course, all lab assignments must be handed in, even if their point-value is significantly reduced by late penalties.

Exams. There are 2 exams in the courses. The final exam is a comprehensive exam covering all material in the course. Exams cannot be made up unless you have a doctor's excuse for absence due to illness.

Class Attendance. Class roll will be taken randomly during the semester for lectures and laboratory meetings. Students missing will incur a 1% reduction in their final grade for each lecture/lab missed. Class attendance will be counted up to 10% of the final score.

Topics and Reference Reading:

Class notes, handouts and lab descriptions (in HTML/PDF format) will be distributed through the class web page. You can also print them from the class web site before or after the class. The hyperlinks for these materials will be activated before each class lecture and laboratory meeting. Printing in the GIS lab (CSSC 010) is free. You are responsible for all materials covered in lectures and labs. If you are absent, it is your responsibility to obtain any notes, handouts, and assignments that you may have missed. . 

Note: The schedule is tentative. It will be updated without notice, please check the topic before each class.

Week 1 - 8/20
    Introduction to the Course and Technical Geography (pp.1-16)

Week 2 - 8/23, 8/25 & 8/28
    Environment Characteristics, Geographic data (pp. 17-53)
    Introduction to ArcView (pp. 201-211)

Week 3 - 8/30, 9/1, 9/3
    Lab 1: Viewing Maps and Attribute Information In ArcView
    Map Abstraction: Selection, Classification,
    Simplification, Exaggeration, and Symbolization(pp. 54-84)

Week 4 - Labor Day, 9/8, 9/10
    Labor Day, No class
    Map Scale and Distance Measurements (pp. 536-546, pp. 258-268)
    Lab2: Manual Part

Week 5 - 9/13, 9/15, 9/17
    Lab2: Map Abstraction, Map Scale and Measure Distance
    Map Projection(pp. 585-604)

Week 6 - 9/20, 9/22, 9/24
   Earth's Coordinate Systems and Other Referencing systems (pp. 213-242)

Week 7 - 9/27, 9/29, 10/1
    Lab3: Map Projection and Coordinate Systems
    Direction, Navigation, and Orientation, Position Finding (pp. 243-257, 279-309, 605-620)

Week 8 - 10/4, 10/6, 10/ 8
    Lab4: Map Reading: Direction and Position Finding
    Review for Midterm

Midterm Exam (10/8/99, Friday)

Week 9 - Fall Break, 10/13, 10/15
    Global Positioning Systems and Satellite Mapping (pp. 310-334, 615-618)

Week 10 - 10/18, 10/20, 10/22
  Extra Credit Lab1: Global Positioning System Reading
  Remote Sensing and Aerial Photograph Interpretation
   (pp. 85-99, 104-107, 496-517, 547-584)

Week 11 - 10/25, 10/27, 10/29
 Basic Photogrammetry and Three-dimensional Mapping (pp. 100-128)
  Lab 5: Image Reading

Week 12 - 11/1, 11/3, 11/5
    Landform Portrayal,
    Extra Credit Lab2: Contouring
    Cartographic Elements and Visual Variables

Week 13 - 11/8, 11/10, 11/12
    Making Attribute and Distribution Maps, (pp. 129-158)
    Making Statistical Maps I and II (pp. 159-178)

Week 14 - 11/15, 11/17, 11/19
    Lab 6: Thematic Map Making
    Cartometrics (pp. 335-355)
    Spatial Analysis (pp. 356-382)

Week 15 - 11/22, Thanksgiving Holiday
    Lab 7: Cartometrics and Spatial Analysis

Week 16 - 11/29, 12/1, 12/3
    Lab 7: Cartometrics and Spatial Analysis II
    Review for Final Exam
    Guest Speech: The Future of Cartography and Geographic Information Sciences

Final Exam (Dec. 10, 9:00am)

Keys to the Labs and Homework:

Lab1:Viewing Maps and Attribute Information In ArcView

Lab2: Map Abstraction, Map Scale and Measure Distance

Lab3: Map Projection and Coordinate Systems

Homework (Lab2 Manual Part) Data Classification, Map Scale, and Great Circle Distance

Midterm Examination

Lab4: Direction

GPS Lab: Extra Credit I

Lab 5. Image Reading

Contour Lab: Extra Credit II

Lab 7: Cartometrics and Spatial Analysis