Teaching & Learning

The Geocomputation and Spatial Analysis (GSA) theme within King’s College London undergraduate Geography degree builds on a step-change in our ability to work with large geographical data sets. The design of the GSA theme is informed by the dearth of geographers able to think computationally using programming, data analysis and data manipulation skills. There is a severe skills shortage in this domain across all sectors: non-profit, government, corporate, and academic.

GSA is one of the first offerings in the UK to link technical competency in computation and spatial analysis to broader issues in geographic understanding of society, space and the environment. Our objective is to enable students to access, understand, utilise, visualise and communicate data in a geographical context. GSA is not about pushing buttons, but about using logic, programming, and analytical skills to tackle complex real-world problems in a creative, reproducible, and open manner. Modules take students from the foundations of computer programming to applied issues in (geo)data analysis providing highly employable skills in programming, statistics, and visualisation (including GIS).

How The GSA ‘Theme’ Works

GSA was designed a sequence of modules that build on one another: you are free to stop following the GSA theme at any time (using the usual module add/drop process), but you can only take a more advanced module if you have taken all of the preceding modules. For Study Abroad students you must consult with the GSA team before leaving for your term (or year) abroad if you wish to return to take our 3rd year module.

Currently the theme is composed of three modules and one optional ‘boot camp’ activity:

  1. Code Camp: this is an optional ‘boot camp’ activity that all students wishing to pursue the Geocomputation theme are strongly encouraged to complete over the summer between their 1st and 2nd years. Code Camp will give you the basics of programming (variables, loops, simple data structures) in 10 easy sessions of 1-2 hours each and is intended to be run on your own computer. We provide support via Slack for any problems or questions that may arise. Materials are available on GitHub under a mix of MIT and CC-BY licenses.
  2. Geocomputation: this course is intended to serve as a conceptual and practical foundation for the Spatial Analysis module in Term 2; however, the course will also be of interest to students who wish to understand and employ computational tools in their own research practice (e.g. in the IGS and post-graduation).  It is intended that the methods covered be relevant to both human and physical geography students.  Likely topics covered will be: Introducing computational techniques, reading data, checking and filtering data, visualising data, aggregating data, distributions in data, looking for relationships, looking for differences and making a map without GIS. Materials are available on GitHub under a mix of MIT and CC-BY licenses.
  3. Spatial Analysis: The module is structured into ten one-hour lectures, each accompanied by a three-hour computer practical that explores the practical implementation of the concepts and ideas discussed in lectures.  The structure wil enable students to gain both the required theoretical and conceptual understanding and the practical skills and knowledge.  Computer practicals will allow students to explore the use of computational and software tools for spatial analysis. Please note that this module can ONLY be taken on completion of 5SSG2059 Geocomputation. Some materials are available on GitHub under a mix of MIT and CC-BY licenses.
  4. Applied GSA: The module is structured into ten two-hour seminars, each accompanied by a one-hour practical, that cover the application of advanced concepts in geocomputation and spatial analysis. This module builds on the two level 5 modules of the Geocomputation and Spatial Analysis undergraduate theme. Whereas those modules provided the foundation, this module now considers more advanced concepts and how they are applied to real-world issues and problems. The module includes guest-lectures from researchers in the government and private sectors. This module is only available to students who have taken both 5SSG2059 & 5SSG2060 in their second year. Some materials are available on GitHub under a mix of MIT and CC-BY licenses.

The GSA ‘Degree’

If, as an undergraduate, you take and pass all three of our GSA modules then you will have “(with Geocomputation & Spatial Analysis)” added to your degree certificate. You remain a BA or BSc student, but this will help employers to recognise the additional work that you have done on these modules.

To read more about our teaching and learning, see blog posts with the Teaching tag.