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Drone Analysis and Geo-Visualizations

Module titleDrone Analysis and Geo-Visualizations
Module codeGEOM182
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Damien Mansell (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Discover how the geospatial and technical revolutions have led to new and innovative ways to engage and publish spatial data. Learn the principles of photogrammetry structure from Motion (SFM) and apply them with your own data set collected from The University of Exeter Drones. As part of this module you will discover the complete workflow from designing your own flight patterns, collecting the data, analysis and preparing final outputs. Discover 3D capabilities in the Esri platform including City Engine. Create immersive learning environments in The University of Exeter’s bespoke learning and assessment tool for IVE’s (interactive virtual environments).

Pre-requisite for this module is GEOM180 Environmental Remote Sensing. Due to the costs associated with field work and drone training, students not on the GIS MSc will need to seek DESE approval to take this module.

Module aims - intentions of the module

Drones: lightweight aircraft operated from the ground, are emerging as the latest, and most opportunistic remote sensing tools for environmental managers. This module aims to develop your understanding of how best to collect data from drones. This includes decisions related to the flight height, image overlap, resolution from different camera specifications, regulations and health and safety considerations. You will process drone imagery to discover the opportunities presented with high spatial resolution data. You will apply and develop techniques to visualise 3D data collected from drones, including creating immersive virtual environments and 360 virtual reality scenes. The latter makes up the geo-visualization component of this module. Learning and assessment will include analysis of the drone collected to quantify data outputs as well as the planning, collecting, processing and presentation aspects of the drone workflow.

Teaching of this module is concentrated on a hands-on approach with a mix of guided computer practicals, field work including opportunities to deploy a drone from planned flight paths including insights from commercial drone training, group work to evaluate considerations of flight design with various applications and lectures to introduce theory.

The teaching contributions on this module are drawn from practical research and teaching experience gained by David Hein Griggs from his drone missions focussing on physical geography. Geo-visualisation applications and workflows are drawn from pedagogic research and development by Damien Mansell. This includes use of InVEnTA a THE award winning immersive virtual environment for developing virtual field work opportunities, developed by Steve Plamer, Anne Le-Brocq and Damien Mansell.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Evaluate the principles of flight design for drone applications.
  • 2. Recall the rules and categories of drone flying in the UK

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Generate 3D scenes from a set of 2-D images.
  • 4. Generate orthophoto-mosaics from a set of drone images.
  • 5. Generate virtual scenes / environments to showcase 3D landscapes.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Critically engage with procedures and regulations.
  • 7. Represent 3D geospatial data using image processing techniques.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module consists of mix of lectures, computer practical’s, group work exercises, field work and wider reading. The weekly pattern will vary throughout the term with intense weeks focussing on certain components such as flight training and commercial drone regulation awareness. Other weeks will be quiet in terms of scheduled delivery where you will have opportunity to focus on group work or complete your independent assessment.

Topics covered include:

  • Fundamentals of image capture from drones including spatial resolution and accuracy.
  • Application of drones
  • Structure from motion
  • Drone regulations and health and safety
  • Geo-visualisation

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 Teaching3Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 8Practicals
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 162 full days of commercial drone training including a mix of classroom work, flight training, discussion and formative assessment.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 4Half day field course
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 22Guided Group Study
Guided Independent Study 75Computer work in support of practicals and producing project work.
Guided Independent Study 22Reading and research


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practical discussions 2 hour Practical discussions AllOrally through staff and peer evaluation
Fieldwork Question and answers 4 hour field work 1-4Orally through staff and peer evaluation
Instructor Question and answers 1 hour 1,2 & 6 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
Practical Poster 15Small group poster A3 1Oral
Technical Report 85Individual Report 1500 words (option for story map) including geo-visualisation outputs such as animations, environments, interactive maps. 2-7Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Practical Poster Individual Poster A3 1 Referred/deferred period
Technical Report Technical Report 2-6Referred/deferred period

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 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment. 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 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • Drone Technology: Today’s Trends and What’s Next (Jeremiah Johnson, Esri)
  • Drone Mapping Ski Slopes for a World-Class Snowboarding Competition (Bobby Valentine, VCTA Labs)
  • Technical Demo: Building Digital Twins with Reality Capture and GIS (Esri)

  • ELE

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Drone, Drones, UAV, Structure From Motion, Geovisualisation, 3D, point clouds, orthophotomosaics, orthoimage, orthorectified, GIS 

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date