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University of California, Davis

Fundamentals of GIS

University of California, Davis via Coursera


Explore the world of spatial analysis and cartography with geographic information systems (GIS). In this class you will learn the basics of the industry’s leading software tool, ArcGIS, during four week-long modules:

Week 1: Learn how GIS grew from paper maps to the globally integrated electronic software packages of today. You will install ArcGIS on your computer and learn how to use online help to answer technical questions.

Week 2: Open up ArcGIS and explore data using ArcMap. Learn the foundational concepts of GIS, how to analyze data, and make your first map.

Week 3: Make your own maps! Symbolize data and create an eye-catching final product.

Week 4: Share your data and maps and learn to store and organize your data.

Take Fundamentals of GIS as a standalone course or as part of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialization. By completing the first class in the Specialization you will gain the skills needed to succeed in the full program.

Students who need an ArcGIS license will receive a non-commercial, 1 year student license for participation in this course and specialization.


  • Course Introduction and Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
    • In this module, we will cover course expectations, give you a quick overview of GIS and what's great about it, take a first look at ArcGIS and identify key elements in the interface, and define core geospatial concepts and terminology. In Section 2, we will discuss options for desktop GIS, the history of GIS and how it's used today, discuss resources and help that you can use, and lay out core skills that are relevant to you as a GIS analyst. We'll close out by showing you how to get a copy of ArcGIS for this course, and with a tutorial on getting started in ArcGIS.
  • ArcGIS Basics
    • In this module, we will explore GIS data using ArcMap and will explore and change properties of GIS layers to change map displays. We will subset data using selections, and explore feature attributes. Finally, we will learn about projections and use that knowledge as we run geoprocessing tools.
  • Making Maps With Common Datasets
    • In this module we will identify common datasets in both the US and Internationally. We will use a new mode in ArcGIS to create complete maps that include proper symbology, legends, titles, north arrows, and data sources. We will further use more advanced mapping techniques to output map books and label items on the map.
  • Retrieving and Sharing Data
    • In this module, we will view and edit metadata in order to create higher quality data. We will retrieve data from the web and share data, discuss workspaces and file formats, and create layer and map packages. We will also use multiple file formats for GIS data and be able to appropriately choose between them based upon project requirements.

Taught by

Nick Santos


3.4 rating, based on 10 reviews

Start your review of Fundamentals of GIS

  • Sara J. Carvajal completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    It's a great course for beginners. If you're interested in GIS you should definitely take this course. The forum is very active and the instructor answers to doubts there.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Firstly, I must say that I would not place GIS under the Cartography category. Under Data Science would probably be more accurate. I started this course because I wanted to get a certification in actual Map Making. I wanted to learn to design and create...
  • William Clay

    William Clay is taking this course right now, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    The course started out easy enough and I wanted to earn a verified certificate so I paid the $49. I worked through all the lesson exercises and thought I had a good understanding. When I get to the end to do the only graded assignment, it doesn't have...
  • Eric Hrahsel is taking this course right now, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    I joined this course to get an idea of GIS that i was completely new to, and i was doing well the first 3 weeks but last week's assignment was hard, without proper guide showing how to do them, it was a pain in the butt,, i am very confused right now. They didn't really teach how to do some of them earlier.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    So much for it being free as advertised - the first page I got to after enrolling was to pay $49 per month.
  • Ahmet Furkan Üstün completed this course.

  • Francisco Arteaga completed this course.

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  • Taher

    Taher completed this course.

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