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GIS Reading List

Advanced Field and GIS Skills, 2021/22, Semester 1, 2
Vern Manville
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: Prentice Hall. (Available online)

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

Longley, P.A. et al. (2015) Geographic Information Science & Systems, 4th ed. Chichester: Wiley. (Available online)

Another useful general book about GIS which gives information about the basic principles.

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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 journal 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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Layout and presentation 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 audience in the best way possible. This is cartography. The references below will give you some ideas to start you off but there is plenty else out there.

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

A short guide to basic principles - it is basically a revision guide to GIS.  I'm not marking this as core as it isn't available online but if you buy one book for GIS make it this one. Available to buy from the British Cartographic Society for £12.99 (plus £2 postage).

Frye, C. (2001) Making maps that communicate. ArcUser, (October - December), pp.38-43. Available online here

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


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

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


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GIS for geology and environmental science

Examples of how GIS is used in geology and environmental science disciplines.

Bettinger, P. and Wing, M.G. 2004. Geographic Information Systems: Applications in forestry and natural resources management. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Basic GIS techniques and information applied to a specific area of knowledge.

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

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


Scally, R. 2006. GIS for Environmental Management. Redlands, California, USA: 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.

Wright, D.J. and Harder, C. (Eds) (2019) GIS for Science: Applying mapping and spatial analytics, Redlands, California: ESRI Press.

A book of case-studies and examples backed up by an impressive range of on-line resources. I have a copy of the book in my office if you want to have a look.

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Coordinate Systems and Projections

Monmonier, M.S. 2004. Rhumb lines and map wars: a social history of the Mercator projection. Chicago, Ill.: Univ. 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. Washington, DC, USA: U.S.G.S. [Accessed 29 June 2021].

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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Inspiration and examples

Brewer, C.A. 2008. Designed maps: a sourcebook for GIS users. Redlands, Calif: ESRI Press.

Lots of examples of maps with comments about how they were designed.  Plenty of inspiration and technical ideas.

ESRI 2011. ESRI Conservation Map Book. Redlands, California, USA: ESRI.

Examples of maps produced with ArcGIS - though the software isn't really relevant. Have a browse and see examples of maps that ESRI consider are "best practice".

ESRI n.d. ESRI Map Book Gallery. ESRI Map Book Gallery. [Accessed 29 June 2021].

Guerrilla Cartography n.d. Guerrilla Cartography. Guerrilla Cartography. [Accessed 5 July 2021].

PDF atlases available to download - so far atlases around the subjects of Food and Water.

Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust n.d. Hebridean Marine Mammal Atlas. Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust. [Accessed 18 October 2018].


This list was last updated on 05/07/2021