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Module 4100
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis


Dr. Zhanli “Jerry” Sun (sun@iamo.de) *
Max Hofmann (hofmann@iamo.de)
Dr. Dilini Abeygunawardane (Abeygunawardane@iamo.de)
Atabek Umirbekov (Umirbekov@iamo.de)
Dr. Alexander Mkrtchian (Mkrtchian@iamo.de)
Daniela Peña Guerrero (Pena-Guerrero@iamo.de)

* Address for email correspondence

Department for Structural Development of Farms and Rural Areas
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO)
Theodor-Lieser-Str. 2, 06120 Halle (Saale)

Course Description

Geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial data analysis are increasingly common in agricultural economics and related fields. This course introduces the basic concepts, methods, and software tools for the acquisition, manipulation, visualization, exploration, and analysis of spatial data. The ultimate aim of the course of to make students interested in spatial data analysis and to raise awareness of the potentials and pitfalls in spatial data analysis. We will provide a mix of lectures addressing basic theoretical knowledge of GIS and spatial data analysis, presentations with applications of spatial data analysis, and practical hands-on exercises using mainly QGIS (open source software) and GeoDa. During the course, we will also exemplify applications that touch upon various disciplines, such as environmental monitoring, natural resource management, rural development, and agricultural economics. Students are encouraged to use their own data sets for the exercises and homework.

Note that this course is *NOT* a software training class. Rather, the focus of the course is on the theoretical aspects, key concepts, spatial methodologies and potential applications of spatial data analysis.


An interest in quantitative data analysis; basic knowledge of statistics is an asset. Please carefully read the syllabus below when considering the registration of this course.

Tentative Course Syllabus

Topic 1: GIS concepts

Topic 2: GIS software

Topic 3: Introduction to GIS data

Topic 4: Thematic mapping and spatial analysis

Topic 5: Raster data analysis

Topic 6: Spatial statistics and spatial econometrics

Teaching methods: Lectures (~50%), practical exercises (~50%)

Credit points: 3

Grading (to earn the 3 credit points):

Necessary course materials:

No designated textbook. Handouts will be made available during the class.

Software: QGIS, GeoDa

Capacity of the course: 15 participants

Organization and time:

The course is organized as a one-week block module with 5 full days from 9 am to 5 pm. The course starts at 09:30 a.m. on Monday; ends at 2 pm on Friday.

Language: English

Location: IAMO, Halle (Saale), Conference Room 2