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Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
CUAP Proposal-New Qualification/Subject
Section A
Proposal Description
Purpose of the proposal
The purpose of this proposal is to introduce a new qualification, Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information
Science (PGDipGIS) that will be delivered at the University of Canterbury with some collaboration from the University of
A 2009 report prepared for Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the
Ministry of Economic Development (MED), ‘Spatial Information in the New Zealand Economy’, indicated that the use
and re-use of spatial information is estimated to have added $1.2 billion in productivity-related benefits to the NZ
economy in 2008. As a technology with multidisciplinary applications, examples of the use of modern spatial
information technology can be found in all sectors of the NZ economy. However, one of the barriers identified to wider
adoption of spatial information is a general lack of skills and knowledge relating to modern spatial information theory
and technology.
The proposed PGDipGIS is part of an initiative to enhance the strategic development of advanced geospatial education
in New Zealand, with a capacity-building programme run at Canterbury with some collaborative teaching and research
effort between Canterbury and Victoria universities. It will run concurrently with the Masters in Geographic Information
Science (MGIS) programme that has been developed, providing an exit option for students taking the Part 1 coursework
of the MGIS who choose not to take Part 2, as well as providing a coursework only postgraduate diploma for GIS
graduates and industry practitioners looking to up-skill.
There are significant benefits to be gained for the departments and universities involved, both in the sharing of
knowledge as well as the potential for research collaborations. The departments and universities involved have
knowledge and research strengths in different areas of Geographic Information Science (GIS). The PGDipGIS will provide
a source of skilled graduates for industry, government, and further research initiatives. The PGDipGIS may also provide
an incentive for some students to continue on to pursue an MGIS by undertaking a research thesis (Part 2).
As the proposed programme has been developed based on their existing teaching and research capacity of the
academics involved, the programme should not require any additional ongoing resourcing in those areas. In fact, the
future collaborative vision for the programme may result in more stability and continuity in the programme due to the
shared nature of the courses and reduce overall workload due to economy gained through scale. The courses reflect the
individual strengths of the staff members and eliminate some of the redundancy of basic courses repeated in multiple
institutions. This allows staff to focus on their areas of research interest in their teaching, thus more effectively
enhancing the teaching-research nexus which in turn allows the development of more in-depth and informed courses.
There is currently a PGDipGIS which the University of Auckland is proposing to offer from 2011, and a Postgraduate
Diploma in Arts (GIS) at Massey University. The proposed PGDipGIS at Canterbury is not designed to compete with
these programmes but to provide an exit option from, and stair-casing to, the MGIS, and will offer some specialist
subjects and research that are not available elsewhere. The majority of courses on offer will also be available to local
students outside of the PGDipGIS/MGIS Programme.
GIS is becoming an area of increasing interest for Maori as well. GIS has been used by some roopū to assist their
contemporary Maori development opportunities; has been suggested as a cost effective method for spatial research for
Waitangi Tribunal claims; has supported and facilitated complex textual and oral evidence, and has also been used to
assist negotiation and empowerment at both central and local government level (Pacey. 2005).
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As a named Postgraduate Diploma, the PGDipGIS would reflect the multi-disciplinary nature of GIS and give it a clear
identity. Such approaches have worked for Postgraduate Diploma programmes such as the Postgraduate Diploma in
Antarctic Studies (PGDipAntaStud) at Canterbury, which allows for non-discipline specific promotion of the programme.
The naming choice reflects the cross-disciplinary nature of the GIS programme, and also encourages further crossdepartment teaching collaboration planned within Canterbury. The named degree also positions the Diploma as a
professional option for practitioners looking to up-skill. In terms of other role models in the field, there are a variety of
naming conventions, but a named diploma in GIS is one commonly used option, and an option that best fits with the
proposed Masters in GIS (MGIS).
Extensive consultation has occurred for the Masters in Geographic Information Science (MGIS) which involves the same
coursework component as the PGDipGIS (See Masters in Geographic Information Science (MGIS) proposal). The
feedback on the coursework has been positive, and the proposed curriculum has been well received both nationally and
Based on feedback on the MGIS proposal, the PGDipGIS provides an additional qualification option for those who wish
to complete the MGIS coursework but not continue on to the research thesis component. As such, it not only provides
an exit qualification, but also an up-skilling option for people in industry who are keen to take the coursework but do
not have the time or inclination to complete a masters thesis.
Goals of the programme
The overarching goal of the PGDipGIS is to provide an exceptional learning experience for students in the field of
Geographic Information Science.
The specific aims of the programme are:
1. To provide a strong suite of graduate courses that meets the needs of spatial industry in NZ
2. To provide a model for excellent collaborative teaching and research, and the use of new technology and media to
enhance the learning experience for students
3. To provide an exit qualification for students not completing the full Masters in GIS
Graduate profile
Graduates from the PGDipGIS will have gained a range of skills (both transferable and specialised) which will equip them
for employment in a range of cognate disciplines or within the arena of GIS specifically.
Programme Attributes
The graduates will:
 Have a detailed understanding and appreciation of the scope, limitations and challenges of GIS and its
multidisciplinary application
 Recognise and be able to articulate the ethical responsibilities of the communication, creation and use of
geographic information
 Critically assess GIS information and the outcome of GIS projects in terms of relevancy to project aims and
against more general constraints, e.g. ethical and time constraints
 Understand the key stages and distinct challenges in the creation, use and maintenance of a GIS, paying
particular attention to the unique structure of spatial information, the issues associated with its storage and
creation, the role of metadata and the quality of data
 Effectively apply GIS software skills for the effective exploration, communication, geovisualisation and analysis
of geographic information
 Demonstrate an understanding of spatial information by identifying and applying appropriate GIS techniques to
the solution of practical spatial problems
 Show evidence of advanced knowledge in GIS theory, methodology and applications and be able to critically
evaluate findings and discussions in the literature
 Demonstrate advanced skill in the use of GIS software, associated spatial statistical techniques and tools on
large geo-referenced datasets
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Personal Attributes
The graduates will:
 Have demonstrated skills in the areas of communication, critical thinking, and creativity
 Be able to engage in rigorous intellectual analysis, criticism and problem-solving
 Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively through the creation of a written research project.
 Demonstrate the ability to work independently and collaboratively
 Demonstrate a firm understanding of the place of GIS in the world and nationally, and be aware of and able to
communicate the key debates and issues
 Be able to effectively communicate GIS research and outputs to a non-technical audience
Outcome statement
This degree provides an interdisciplinary approach to Geographic Information Science, with one year 1 EFT of taught
courses. Graduates will have advanced knowledge in the field, with the ability to study independently and plan, execute
and present the finding of applied GIS projects. Graduates from the programme should be qualified to work as GIS
professionals in government and industry.
Programme overview
The PGDipGIS programme is an interdisciplinary postgraduate 120 point (1.00EFTS) programme. The programme will
comprise compulsory and elective courses, which cover GIS foundations, theory, research methodology, data collection
and processing, analysis, and presentation.
Proposed new regulations and prescriptions (see Calendar Form at the end of Section A)
Please see attached proposed regulations.
Proposed teaching/delivery methods
The courses in the programme will be taught using a blended learning style - a combination of face-to-face and online
pedagogies. This will include some intensive residential sessions, use of lectures, access grid, self directed learning,
seminar and problem based group learning, some e-learning, tutorials and laboratory work.
Course outlines for the new courses created as part of this proposal are available in Section B.
Assessment procedures
Assessment will be undertaken via essays, tests, reports, examinations, portfolios, field reports and oral presentations in
keeping with the assessment policies of the Universities involved.
Predicted student numbers/EFTS
The PGDipGIS qualification has been developed to provide an exit point for MGIS students who decide not to enrol in
MGIS Part II, Thesis. MGIS is the primary degree. The predicted student numbers for the two qualifications combined is
10 efts, unless a candidate confirms that he/she will exit with a PGDipGIS and there is no likelihood of seeking a transfer
to MGIS.
It is expected that the proposed programme will utilise existing facilities. Because of its similarity to the requirements of
the current GIS courses offered, the proposal will utilise existing library resources, and availability of appropriate
expertise. It will also require use of existing video conferencing facilities.
The proposal builds on existing academic strengths in the respective schools. Permanent staff in the respective schools
will absorb the teaching of the PGDipGIS students within their normal teaching load.
Plans for monitoring programme quality
All courses in the PGDipGIS are offered under the oversight of an internal academic committee and the Academic
Boards of Victoria and Canterbury Universities and subject to the normal programme review and other quality
assurance procedures of the Universities, as well as CUAP’s graduating Year Review.
There will also be a GIS Programme Board to assess feedback and monitor programme quality on an ongoing basis.
Confirmation that Section B has been prepared and is available to CUAP on request
For New Qualifications – TEC/NZQA/NZVCC Requirements
EFTS value of qualification
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NZQA exit level of qualification to go on the New
Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications
Statement regarding funding
This programme meets the criteria to be fully funded at the postgraduate level
Memorandum of understanding
Not currently necessary
Duration of the Qualification
Minimum number of points to complete the qualification
Vacation/recess weeks
Work experience/placement hours per week
Tuition/teaching (full-time equivalent) weeks (including exam and study weeks)
Teaching hours per week
Self-directed learning hours per week
Calendar Form
New Qualification Regulations
Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science (PGDipGIS)
See also General Course and Examination Regulations
1. Qualifications Required to Enrol in the Diploma
Every candidate for the Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science, before enrolling for the diploma,
shall have:
(a) either
i. qualified for a degree in a New Zealand University which is of relevance to the proposed course of study; or
ii. presented evidence of ability for advanced level academic study;
iii. been admitted ad eundem statum to enrol for the Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science
(b) been approved as a candidate by the Programme Director:G IS and the Dean of Science
2. Admission to the Diploma
Students planning to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in GIS must apply for admission to the programme.
Applications for admission must be received by the Department of Geography on the prescribed form no later than
1 November in the year preceding desired entry. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that an up-to-date
official academic record is sent to the Department of Geography as soon it is available. Students must also Apply to
3. Structure of the Programme
(a) All students admitted to the Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science will complete a coherent
programme of study approved by the Programme Director: GIS.
(b) The requirements for the Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science shall be GISC 401, GISC 402,
GISC 403, and GISC 404, and at least another four 400-level courses (two of which must be GISC courses) listed
in the University of Canterbury Calendar and other university calendars relevant to a coherent programme of
study for each student that is approved by the Director: GIS. The total course weight for the Postgraduate
Diploma in Geographic Information Science will be at least 1.00 EFTS.
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(c) At the discretion of the Director: GIS, an approved course of study may include up to a total of 0.25 EFTS in 400level courses or higher from another New Zealand institution.
(d) Candidates must satisfy the Director: GIS that they have the necessary prerequisite knowledge to undertake the
proposed courses from the Schedule.
4. Award of the Diploma with Distinction or Merit
The Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science may be awarded with Distinction or Merit.
Note: The award of Distinction indicates a grade average in the range A+ to A-; the award of Merit indicates a grade
average of B+.
5. Full-time/Part-time Enrolment
A candidate may be enrolled for full-time or part-time study. A part-time candidate is one who, because of
employment, health, family or other reasons, is unable to devote his or her full-time to study. Part-time enrolment
requires the approval of the Dean of Science.
6. Duration of the Course
(a) A full-time candidate shall normally follow a course of study for not less than one year and not more than two
years of study. Extension requires the approval of the Dean of Science.
(b) A part-time candidate shall be required to follow a programme of study with time limits determined by the
Dean of Science on the recommendation of the Director: GIS. Normally, the maximum period for part-time
study is four years.
7. Repeating of Courses
(a) A candidate who fails any of the courses offered will require the permission of the Dean of Science and the
approval of the Director: GIS to repeat those failed courses or offer any other course in its place.
(b) A candidate who fails any courses offered and is not successful under Regulation 7(a) shall not be awarded the
Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science, but will be awarded a Certificate of Proficiency for
each course passed at the University of Canterbury.
8. Transfer from Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science to Masters in Geographic Information
If the courses passed for the Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science satisfy the requirements for
Part 1 of the Masters in Geographic Information Science and if the candidate meets the standard required by the
Director: GIS (normally a B grade average or better) then, with the approval of the Dean of Science and provisional
on the availability of suitable supervision, a candidate may elect:
(a) to have the courses transferred to the degree of Masters in Geographic Information Science in lieu of being
awarded the Diploma; or
(b) to enter the degree of Masters in Geographic Information Science under Master’s Regulation 1 (a) i.
Schedule to the Regulations for the Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science
All of the following four courses
GISC 401 Foundations of Geographic Information Science (0.125 EFTS)
GISC 402 Geographic Information Science Research (0.125 EFTS)
GISC 403 Cartography and Geovisualisation (0.125 EFTS)
GISC 404 Geospatial Analysis (0.125 EFTS)
Group A
At least one of the following courses:
GISC 405 GIS Programming and Databases (0.125 EFTS)
GISC 406 Remote Sensing for Earth Observation (0.125 EFTS)
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Group B
At least one of the following courses:
GISC 410 GIS 2.0 (0.125 EFTS) (Offered by the University of Victoria)
GISC 411 GIS in Health (0.125 EFTS)
GISC 412 Spatial Algorithms and Programming (0.125 EFTS)
GISC 413 Special Topic: Geomatic Data Acquisition Techniques (0.125 EFTS) (May not be offered in 2011)
Two other courses at 400-level or higher (to a maximum of 0.25 EFTS) listed in the University of Canterbury Calendar or
other university calendars relevant to a coherent programme of study with approval of the Director: GIS. A total course
weighting of at least 1.0 ETS must be completed.