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Introduction to Remote Sensing

Module titleIntroduction to Remote Sensing
Module codeGEO2321
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Steven Palmer (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module you will learn how remote sensing using satellites and aircraft has contributed to the geospatial revolution. You will develop skills gained during GEO2320 (a pre-requisite) to discover the potential of remote sensing and image analysis for investigating the natural environment. Through lectures and structured independent working, you will gain an understanding of the theoretical principles behind a broad range of remote sensing techniques, including electromagnetic radiation theory,  and the differing spatiotemporal characteristics of remotely-sensed data. You will also develop your  quantitative data skills by performing analyses such as land classification and spatial interpolation of point data to produce raster datasets.

This module enhances your employability by providing training in spatial analysis and remote sensing software packages. Learning takes place through the hands-on investigation of geographical and geophysical datasets for a range of study sites that reflect the ongoing research carried out by Physical Geography researchers at Exeter.  You will develop an understanding of the opportunities and constraints on the implementation of a range of remote sensing approaches, as well as the valuable information these techniques can provide about the surface of the Earth. You are encouraged to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches within the context of selected environmental processes.

To be able to take this module you must have taken GEO2320 Applied GIS for Physical Geographers in Term 1.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The overall aims of this module are:

  • to enhance capacity for research;
  • to increase understanding of spatial data collection and analysis;
  • to develop specific skills in the use of spatial analysis and remote sensing software used  widely in Geographical research and throughout the other sectors.

Through attending the lectures and practical sessions and through completing the assessments, you will work towards developing graduate attributes in GIS, spatial analysis, remote sensing, literacy and analytical skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Outline the fundamental principles of Remote Sensing
  • 2. Summarise the principles of Geographical Information Systems for handling RS data
  • 3. Use GIS and remote sensing software in a technically competent manner
  • 4. Implement, assess and interpret simple geographical models
  • 5. Describe the range of spatial data sources available for characterising geographical systems and analyse examples of such data

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Illustrate and discuss the contested and provisional nature of knowledge and understanding
  • 7. Identify a diverse range of approaches to the generation of knowledge and understanding
  • 8. Evaluate a diverse range of specialised techniques and approaches involved in collecting geographical information
  • 9. Describe, apply and evaluate the diversity of specialised techniques and approaches involved in analysing geographical information
  • 10. Discuss the nature of change within physical environments

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 11. Identify, acquire, evaluate and synthesise data from a range of sources
  • 12. Use C&IT effectively and appropriately to select, analyse and present information
  • 13. Interpret and use numerical statistical information effectively and appropriately
  • 14. Undertake independent/self-directed study/learning (including time management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment
  • 15. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively and fluently by written means and through oral communication
  • 16. Develop a sustained and reasoned argument

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module content in Introduction to Remote Sensing is likely to include some or all of the following topics:

  • Remote sensing platforms, sensors and resolution
  • Multispectral imagery
  • Photogrammetry and elevation models
  • LiDAR data and its uses
  • Satellite radar

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching18Scheduled practicals and experiments, supervised
Scheduled Learning and Teaching6Field classes
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Group seminars and discussions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Virtual contact through online learning and forum discussions
Guided Independent Study50Computer work in support of practicals and project work
Guided Independent Study40Reading and research, online
Guided Independent Study20Reading and research, library


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Multiple ELE quizzes on topic contentvaried length9-16Written and/or oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Scientific report100Practical output image analysis, maps and accompanying text (equivalent to 2000 words). Specified limits as outlined in the practical hand-outsAllWritten (individual)


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Scientific reportExaminationAllAugust ref/def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit an examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Remote sensing, spatial data, image analysis, practical reports, satellite

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites

GEO2333 Applied GIS: Mapping with Technology

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date