Curriculum Guideline

Introductory Cartography

Effective Date:
Course Code
GEOG 1170
Introductory Cartography
Geography and the Environment
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hours per week / semester Lab: 2 hours per week / semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following: lecture, labs, field work, slides/videos, individual and/or team projects and small group discussions.

Course Description
Would you like to create a map using just a compass? Are you interested in learning how to interpret a topographic map or aerial photograph for geography or environmental studies classes? Do you need to know how to design effective maps to communicate spatial information? This course introduces a range of topics in the field of cartography, the art, science and technology of map making. Topics include map projections,
elementary field surveying, interpretation of aerial photography and satellite imagery, cartographic methods and design, thematic mapping, and an introduction to computer mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Course Content
  1. Introduction
  • Development of Cartography
  • Basic geodesy
  • Map projections
  • Introduction to datum systems
  • Fundamental Map Elements
    • Concept of scale
    • Coordinate systems
    • Direction indicators
    • Data and legend
  • Analysis and Interpretation of Topographic Maps
    • Types of terrain representation
    • Contour interpretation
    • Landform measurement, identification and interpretation
    • Topographic profile construction
    • Vertical exaggeration and gradient calculations
    • Cultural features on topographic maps
  • Elementary Field Surveying
    • Use of the magnetic compass
    • Location by three measured sides, intersection and resection
    • Introductory triangulation and differential leveling
    • Compass traverse
    • Introduction to global positioning systems
  • Remote Sensing
    • Electromagnetic radiation and methods of capturing spectral reflectance
    • Types of air photos
    • Introductory air photo interpretation and photogrammetry
    • Polar orbiting and geostationary satellites
    • Basics of satellite image interpretation
  • Geographic Data
    • Nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio data
    • Qualitative and quantitative map symbols
    • Effective graphing of geographic data
  • Cartographic Design
    • Cartographic design process
    • Generalization, selection and symbolization
    • Potential impacts of the design
  • Thematic Maps
    • Qualitative and quantitative thematic maps
    • Types of quantitative thematic maps
    • Construction and interpretation of thematic maps
  • Geographic Information Systems
    • Concept of a GIS
    • Applications
    Learning Outcomes

    At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

    1. Describe the development of cartographic concepts and techniques over time.
    2. Explain the responsibility of a cartographer to represent data that is accurate and consistent with the original purpose of a map, as well as cite examples of map misuses.
    3. Analyze, interpret and make measurements from topographic and thematic maps, aerial photographs and satellite imagery.
    4. Create a map from three-leg compass traverse.
    5. Synthesize the concepts and techniques of cartography through the use of a formal cartographic design process to identify and collect relevant geographic data and design a thematic map to communicate these data effectively.
    Means of Assessment

    Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific criteria during the first week of classes.

    An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

    Labs 40%
    Project 20%
    Midterm Exam 20%
    Final Exam 20%
    Textbook Materials

    Texts will be updated periodically. Typical examples are:

    Slocum, T, McMaster,R, Kessler, F., & Howard H. (2008) Thematic Cartography and Geovisualization 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

    Which Prerequisite