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Applied GIS for social science applications

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Applied GIS modelling for social science

This two day course is aimed at researchers interested in upgrading their spatial data analysis skillset. Participants with some basic experience of using GIS and spatial data will become confident in applying more advanced tools to address a range of applied research questions in the social sciences. We will work with ESRIs ArcGIS software and combine hands-on practical activities with supporting lectures. 

Course Code


Course Dates

27th June 2017 – 28th June 2017

Course Leader

Dr Andy Newing
Course Description

Applied GIS modelling for social science

This course is aimed at researchers who have some familiarity with spatial data and basic GIS software functionality. This two day course uses a series of accessible hands-on practicals and supporting short lectures to introduce participants to more advanced spatial analysis functions and tools within a GIS. On day 1 we work with vector data (points, lines, polygons) to gain familiarity with a range of GIS tools and analytic and visualisation techniques used for applied research within the social sciences. On day 2 we also introduce network analysis and focus on measures of proximity and access, construction of service areas and the evaluation of facility or service locations. All practicals are structured around a series of research questions which could be applied in many research contexts.


We use ESRIs ArcGIS industry standard proprietary GIS software, widely used by the research community and commercial sector. The data used relate to individuals, households and neighbourhoods (small areas) and a drawn from sources typically used within the social sciences (including census, survey and commercial data). We emphasise that the approaches, questions, challenges and operational decisions are generic to these kinds of geographic analyses.


The course runs over two days and is organised as follows:

Session 1: Refresh knowledge of spatial data and ArcGIS (handling spatial and attribute data, layering, select by attribute, select by location, creating thematic maps).

Session 2: Spatial analysis – aggregation, joins and relates, overlay and proximity, hot spot analysis.

Session 3: Network analysis – working with (road) networks in ArcGIS, calculating origin-destination matrices and measuring proximity.

Session 4: Evaluating access and determining ‘optimum’ locations. 

Discussion / consultation session: There are opportunities for users to outline their own work and to ask for comments and ideas – participants are also welcome to bring along their own spatial data.  

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