Geographical Information Systems MSc

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
24 months part time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in geography or a related subject
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£13,000 (Total)
International fees
£29,000 (Total)

Course overview

Students studying Geographical Information Systems MSc at the University of Leeds

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have become a crucial part of society, benefitting a wide range of industries. From supply chain management to insurance, urban planning to government agencies, the scope of GIS software is huge – and is only going to keep growing. This is why corporations worldwide are looking for qualified GIS experts to bring together the geospatial data that’ll help inform their future strategies and decision making.

Our Geographical Information Systems MSc focuses on the scientific, technical and computational aspects of GIS and Geographical Information Science (GIScience), with particular reference to the socioeconomic and environmental sciences. We’ll introduce you to GIS and the packages and database systems available to use in business, health and planning settings, whilst offering optional modules that’ll allow you to expand your career prospects into the areas that interest you and are informed by the world-leading research we conduct across the university.

The holistic design of the course means that, once you graduate, you’ll have a specialist yet extensive skill set that covers all bases and will be sought after by employers in this sector. You'll also be equipped with an in-depth understanding of topical and relevant subjects in this field, enabling you to pursue a wide range of exciting career opportunities in both the private and public sectors.

Why study at Leeds:

  • This course offers flexible study options where you can study full-time over 12 months or part-time over 24 or 36 months to fit in with your lifestyle.
  • Our globally-renowned research conducted right here on campus feeds directly into the course, shaping your learning with the latest thinking in critical areas like geodemographics, retail planning, wilderness and remote sensing.
  • Advance your skills and understanding of GIS data visualisation, including spatial analysis and statistical skills required for the analysis of geographically referenced data.
  • Tailor the course to suit your career aspirations with a selection of optional modules that’ll hone your knowledge in the topics that interest you the most.
  • Conduct your own project work which will enable you to develop transferable skills as a researcher, investigating real-world issues that suit your interests.
  • Experience expert theoretical and practical teaching delivered by a programme team of academics who are at the forefront of their fields and are actively engaged in groundbreaking research from the Centre for Spatial Analysis and Policy research group and the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics.
  • Enhance your career prospects and join our successful alumni who have pursued careers in some exciting corporations including ARUP, Jacobs Foundation and USAID.

Course details

This course comprises two semesters of taught modules followed by a dissertation project. The first semester includes core modules. The second semester includes optional modules to allow you to specialise in your chosen pathway.

Our modules can be grouped thematically so that you can include topics relating to Planning and Society, to Environment and to Technical Development. There is freedom to choose whichever of our modules you wish.

Core modules introduce GIS, a rapidly evolving area in business, health and planning settings, as well as in environmental applications. You'll be introduced to GIS packages and database systems, useful for those wanting to undertake social and environmental science research and those wanting to understand the application of geotechnology as practitioners.

You’ll study theories and concepts underpinning GIS and explore topics including spatial data models, data capture, spatial analysis and statistical and mathematical modelling. Optional modules allow you to focus on quantitative human geography, environmental applications and programming GIS.

The dissertation is carried out over the summer months and is an opportunity for you to investigate a topic and demonstrate your ability to apply the techniques you have learned during the course and bring in additional methods, whilst placing the work within appropriate literature contexts. Our aim is to submit the best dissertations for journal publication.

If you study this course on a part-time basis, you'll study fewer modules in each year. We set up a custom study course for you based on your option choices.

Project work

The dissertation project is one of the most satisfying elements of this course. It allows you to apply what you’ve learned to a piece of research focusing on a real-world problem, and it can be used to explore and develop your specific interests.

Example dissertation themes for Geographical Information Systems MSc include:

  • Urban inequalities
  • Transport and mobility
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Vulnerable populations
  • Environmental analysis
  • Remote sensing

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Most courses consist of compulsory and optional modules. There may be some optional modules omitted below. This is because they are currently being refreshed to make sure students have the best possible experience. Before you enter each year, full details of all modules for that year will be provided.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Geographical Information Systems MSc Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Geographical Information Systems MSc Part Time in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Professional & Personal Development 30
GIS Data Visualisation & Analysis 30
Dissertation (GIScience) 60

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
GIS and Environment 15
Geodemographics and Neighbourhood Analysis 15
Digital Image Processing for Environmental Remote Sensing 15
Environmental Assessment 15
Web-based GIS 15
Predictive Analytics 15
Programming for Geographical Information Analysis: Core Skills 15

Learning and teaching

Teaching will be through workshops, seminars, presentations, practicals and lectures, depending on the modules you choose. We have a dedicated postgraduate computer lab to which you will have 24 hour access and this is the lab used for workshops and practicals.

Required equipment

You'll need a laptop or PC capable of running standard applications (such as Microsoft Word/Excel etc). The packages we will use shouldn’t need anything more than a moderately spec’d machine running Windows. Software is typically made available to you as a download. Take a look at the ArcGIS Pro system requirements and use these as the basis for your laptop/computer.

Active research environment

You'll be taught by a team of academics and researchers who are actively engaged in cutting-edge research and part of the Centre for Spatial Analysis and Policy research group and the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics.

Other study options

This course is also available part-time, allowing you to combine study with other commitments. You can work to fund your studies, or gain a new qualification without giving up an existing job. We aim to be flexible in helping you put together a part-time course structure that meets your academic goals while recognising the constraints on your study time.

If you are interested in studying online, we offer a part-time distance learning Geographical Information Science course. Modules on this course are available to study online as short courses.

Programme team

The Programme Leader, Dr Paul Norman, is an Associate Professor in Population and Health Geography whose research interests include harmonisation of small area level socio-demographic, morbidity and mortality data to enable time-series analysis of demographic and health change.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Assessment is through coursework with no exams. There is a mix of essays, workbooks / reports. Practical work and assignments are based on the analysis of real world datasets much of which stems from research in which the teaching staff have been involved. Most modules have assessment part way through the semester and then a further assessment at the end.


Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject such as geography, earth or environmental science, economics or a social science, mathematics, computer science or other subjects where good numeracy and/or computing skills can be demonstrated.

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

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information please contact the Admissions Team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. 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)

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadlines

We operate a staged admissions process for this course with selection deadlines throughout the year.

31 July 2024 – International applicants

8 September 2024 – UK applicants

Please read our How to Apply page for full details, including application deadlines and what to include with your application.

Click below to access the University’s online application system and find out more about the application process.

If you're still unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

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

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Geography

Contact us

School of Geography Postgraduate Admissions Team



UK: £13,000 (Total)

International: £29,000 (Total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

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

Additional cost information

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 on our living costs and budgeting page.

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.

Career opportunities

The value of GIS in today’s society has grown exponentially. Organisations across the globe rely heavily on this technology – and the skilled specialists who can operate it – to visualise, analyse, predict and report on critical data, whether that be locally or globally.

From devising the best route for an emergency services vehicle to determining the effects of a natural disaster or even using your smartphone to find a local supermarket, the span of GIS is only going to grow. So, having the specialist knowledge into how GIS works will open a lot of diverse career opportunities when you graduate.

Plus, University of Leeds students are among the top 5 most targeted by top employers according to The Graduate Market 2024, High Fliers Research, meaning our graduates are highly sought after by some of the most reputable companies in the field.

Here are some examples of the jobs and organisations graduates of this course have secured:

  • GIS Engineer, The General Aviation Safety Council (GASCo)
  • GIS Analyst, RPS Group
  • Graduate Geospatial Consultant, ARUP
  • Location Intelligence Analyst, The Co-operative Group
  • GIS Analyst, Jacobs Foundation
  • Location Strategy Analyst, Tesco Plc.
  • Technician Engineer, Land and Survery Department
  • Highway Information Senior Technician, Somerset County Council
  • GIS Specialist/Analyst, U.S Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Radiation Protection Specialist, International Atomic Energy Agency

Careers support

At Leeds, we help you to prepare for your future from day one — that’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers. The University's Careers Service is one of the largest in the country, providing a wide range of resources to ensure you are prepared to take your next steps after graduation and get you where you want to be.

  • Dedicated Employability Officer — gain quality advice, guidance and information to help you choose a career path. From CV and cover letter writing to supporting you with job applications, our School’s dedicated Employability Officer is on hand to help maximise your capabilities through a process of personal development and career planning.
  • Employability and networking events — we run a full range of events, including careers fairs and industry talks in specialist areas and across broader industries, with employers who are actively recruiting for roles, giving you the opportunity to network and engage with industry sponsors. 
  • Employability skills training – to support your transition to the workplace, we embed training in a range of key transferable skills valued by employers such as research and data analysis in all our programmes.
  • MyCareer system — on your course and after you graduate you’ll have access to a dedicated careers portal where you can book appointments with our team, get information on careers and see job vacancies and upcoming events.
  • Opportunities at Leeds — there are plenty of exciting opportunities offered by our Leeds University Union, including volunteering and over 300 clubs and societies to get involved in.

Find out more at the Careers website.

Alumni profile: Yunyi Zhang

Studying GIS at the University of Leeds improved my competency to start working and thrive.
Find out more about Yunyi Zhang's time at Leeds