Mapping the Midlands


Mapping the Midlands will introduce students to cartographic basics and the use of GIS for computer mapping through a series of projects looking at the human geography of the Midlands.

A series of formal lectures will outline the principles:

  • History of mapping
  • Projections and coordinate systems, integration with GPS
  • The Map Communication Model and modes of representationVector & raster data basics

Students will complete three projects, supported through six weeks of lab classes following the four weeks of lectures.

Formal training in the use of lab-based GIS will give a good foundation for students to undertake exercises in the use of field-based GIS as part of 106B Physical Environments of Birmingham.


  • 4 hours of lectures
  • 20 hours of computer lab drop-in sessions


  • Mapping two self-selected variables from the census dataset. (Formative)Description of urban change post-1870 for a selected area of the West Midlands, 1000 words with illustrations (50%)
  • Two maps based on a house condition survey of Selly Oak with 1000 word critical commentary (50%)

Key skills

  • Basic choropleth mapping using census data for Birmingham
  • Overlay and analysis of historical maps
  • Mapping of data collected as part of a field survey of house condition within Selly Oak
  • Understand the basic principles underlying map making
  • Use of number of different mapping techniques within ArcGIS
  • Acquire data from a variety of online sources
  • Apply these skills in a series of independent projects