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Module Reading List

GIS for Geoscientists, 2021/22, Semester 2
Clare Gordon
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

GIS basics

Heywood, I., Cornelius, S. & Carver, S. (2011) An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems. 4th ed. Harlow, Essex, Pearson Prentice Hall.

A good general guide which isn't tied to one particular GIS application. Data for the exercises is available on the book's website and also questions to test your understanding.

Longley, al. (2015) Geographic Information Science & Systems, 4th ed. Chichester: Wiley.

Another useful general book about GIS

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QGIS-specific instruction books

Graser, A. and Peterson, G.N. 2018. QGIS map design. Locate Press.

A book full of "recipes" for ways to create engaging maps in QGIS. Lots of really good ideas.

Kwast, H. van der, Menke, K. and Sherman, G.E. 2019. QGIS for Hydrological Applications: recipes for catchment hydrology and water management. Locate Press.

A comprehensive set of exercises teaching how to use QGIS for GIS. The examples are hydrology-based but the techniques can be applied to plenty of other areas.

Hans van der Kwast backs this book up with lots of technique videos on YouTube.

Menke, K. 2019. Discover QGIS 3.X: a workbook for the classroom or independent study. Locate Press.

A very comprehensive book which gives lots of ideas for using QGIS. Gives general examples but this is a great backup to the exercises you do in this module.

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I haven’t listed specific articles here, but all of the following journals are available online through the University Library and if you browse the latest articles in any of them you will see how GIS is being used by scientists in a range of disciplines. These are just suggestions, there are plenty of other GIS and cartography journals out there, and plenty of GIS-related articles in discipline-specific journals.

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GIS for geology and environment

Note that some of these books will also include useful basic information about GIS in general.

Brimicombe, A. (2010) GIS, environmental modeling and engineering, Boca Raton, Fla; London: CRC Press. 2nd edition.

Uses environmental examples. Shows in detail the process of planning a project as well as basic information about GIS.

Bettinger, P. and Wing, M.G. (2004) Geographic information systems : applications in forestry and natural resources management, New York, USA: McGrawHill Higher Education. 

Basic GIS techniques and information applied to a specific area.

ESRI (2011) ESRI Conservation Map Book -  (Last viewed: 20th July 2016)

A book of case-studies and example maps which ESRI consider to be best-practice.  Specifically conservation-related examples.

Scally, R. (2006) GIS for environmental management, Redlands, California: ESRI Press.

A book of case-studies, e.g. wetland preservation; habitat conservation; reclaiming industrial land.

Tian, Bai. (2016) GIS Technology Applications in Environmental and Earth Sciences, Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press

Available online via the University Library. Includes lots of relevant case-studies and examples of how environmental and earth scientists can use GIS.

Most articles demonstrating the use of GIS are in other subject-specific journals rather than specific GIS journals. Try searching Scopus [electronic resource]. ( ) or Web of Science [electronic resource]. ( using the keyword GIS and other keywords for your specific interest.

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Coordinate systems and projections

Monmonier, Mark (2004) Rhumb lines and map wars : a social history of the Mercator projection, Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press.

A readable look at map projections taking the "war" between the Mercator and Peters projections as a starting point.

Snyder, J.P. (1983) Map projections used by the U.S. Geological Survey. U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1532. Washington D.C., U.S.A.: U.S.G.S. 2nd edition. Available online from:

A classic! Anyone who works regularly with map projections will know this book. Detailed, but has useful information about map projections in general; the terminology; and specific map projections.

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Principles of cartography or How to draw a better map!

As well as the technical skills involved in creating a map you should have some awareness of the principles necessary to produce a map that communicates information to your viewers in the best way possible. The references below will give you some ideas to start you off.

Darkes, G. & Spence, M. (2017) Cartography : an introduction. 2nd edition. London, The British Cartographic Society.        

Short guide to basic principles. Available from the British Cartographic Society at (Last viewed: 20th July 2016)

August 2020 - the previous edition of Darkes and Spence is currently available as a free pdf download from the BCS Thematic Mapping page - it still contains a lot of useful information.

Peterson, Gretchen N. (2021) GIS cartography: a guide to effective map design 3rd ed. CRC Press

A more detailed guide to cartography and design which is very accessibly written.

Frye, C. (2001) Making Maps that Communicate. ArcUser, (October - December), pp.38-43. Available on-line at

A brief but useful guide to how to communicate with maps. Well worth a look if you want to pick up some ideas quickly. Available on-line at (Last viewed: 20th July 2016)

Brewer, Cynthia A. (2016) Designing better maps : a guide for GIS users, Woodlands, California: ESRI Press. 2nd edition.

The classic book on cartography for GIS. A lot of information but very clearly presented.

Brewer, Cynthia A. (2008) Designed maps : a sourcebook for GIS users, Woodlands, California: ESRI Press

Lots of examples of maps with comments about how they were designed.

ESRI Map Book Gallery at (Last viewed: 1st August 2019)

Examples of maps produced with ArcGIS - the latest volumes are fully available on-line and I also have hard copies of a few in my office (SEE 10.140b).  Have a browse and see examples of maps that ESRI considers are "best-practice".

This list was last updated on 14/12/2021