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Birkbeck, University of London: Geographic Data Science

Institution Birkbeck, University of London View institution profile
Department School of Social Sciences
Telephone 0203 907 0700
Study type Taught


Birkbeck's geographic data science postgraduate course will provide you with advanced scientific and technical training in capturing, analysing and visualising geospatial information. Thanks to increasing computing power and wealth of digital data, we can record and store an unprecedented amount of information about the world. Geographic information plays a crucial role in our society, contributing to planning, analysis and management in sectors as diverse as transportation, insurance, banking, telecommunications, logistics, energy, retail, agriculture, healthcare, urban planning and scientific research.

On this course, you will learn how to analyse and extract insights from geospatial data, uncovering the underlying patterns and factors that can help address the big challenges we face in the twenty-first century. You will work with real-world data on a number of domains and problems, such as simulating the dynamics of change in the natural and built environment, identifying suitable locations for renewable energy power plants, predicting crime hot-spots, and producing effective maps to visualise natural- and human-geography applications.

The emphasis is on enabling you to think analytically and develop new skills that have real-world applications for your work and career. You will acquire key data science skills that are in high demand in industry and important tools for research in the field:

  • Geographic information systems, such as ArcGIS and QGIS

  • Scientific programming in Python

  • Geo-statistical and modelling in R

  • Map-making and cartography

  • Big Data management with spatial databases, such as SQL and NoSQL

  • Web mapping and development

  • Remote sensing and analysis of satellite imagery

We offer this course as a Master’s, Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate. For the Diploma and Certificate you study fewer modules and do not complete a dissertation. The Diploma and Certificate are aimed at professionals and researchers who work with, or wish to work with, geographically referenced data. They are ideal if you are interested in studying at postgraduate level for personal or professional reasons, but don't yet want to commit to a full MSc.


  • Geographic data science provides technical and transferable skills in manipulating and analysing spatial data about natural and human phenomena with cutting-edge tools and technologies.

  • This course equips you with geospatial skills that are in high demand according to the UK government.

  • If you are a mature or working student, Birkbeck excels at meeting your needs. This is the only research-led MSc in geographic data science offering all teaching sessions after 6pm.

  • Birkbeck is a pioneer in geographic information science (GIScience) and has been teaching it at postgraduate level for over 30 years. Our international teaching team possesses unique expertise in specialised areas of geographic data science, including Big Data analytics, remote sensing, spatial analysis and urban simulation.

  • The learning resources for this course include: a virtual learning environment; educational licences to industry-standard commercial software, such as Esri ArcGIS and IDRISI TerrSet; the Esri Training catalogue of online interactive modules; commercial spatial datasets; online access to relevant scientific journals.

Careers and employability

Graduates can pursue career paths in archaeology, surveying, planning and policy, government, business and industry, in areas such as:

  • cartography

  • GIS analysis

  • remote-sensing applications

  • software development.

Possible professions include:

  • geographical information systems officer

  • higher education lecturer

  • commercial/residential surveyor.


Postgraduate Certificate - PgCert

Postgraduate Diploma - PgDip

Birkbeck, part of the University of London, offers nearly 300 taught and research postgraduate programmes across arts and humanities, business and economics, law, science and social science. As an evening teaching specialist, Birkbeck offers its taught postgraduate courses between 6-9pm, with some courses available through distance learning. As with undergraduate courses, postgraduates can study full-time or part-time.

Home to 44 research and specialist institutes, Birkbeck is the sixth largest provider of taught postgrad courses for UK and EU students - some 44% of its 11,000-plus students are on postgrad programmes. Around 90% of its academics are active in research, and …

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