SOC128: Geographic Information Systems and Sociological Geography
Instructor: Dan Ryan ude.sllim|nayrnad#ude.sllim|nayrnad
Tu-Th 930-1045 GSB 124, Lab Tu 4-6 STR 14
Office Hours: By appointment, hours TBA

NOTE All "readings" marked with an asterisk are available via the course web site ( via a link from the online version of the syllabus.

Week 0: Thursday August 29

Class Introduction to the course. GIS in five minutes. Why map? How to lie with maps. Introduction to Field Papers. Course website. The syllabus. Grading. First Assignment. How to learn from the web.

  • Instructor Notes
  • Demo OSM and FP
  • Hand out FP atlas pages of Mills campus
  • Slides (draft)


  1. View What is GIS "tutorial"*
  2. Do Field Papers Exercise*
  3. Fill out course survey
  4. Read
    1. ESRI. Introduction-to-GIS (~1200)*
    2. ESRI. How Maps Convey Geographic Information (~600)*
    3. OSM. Beginner's Guide to OpenStreetMap (Especially the pages under the sections "Collect Data," "Editing Maps," and "Editing Data."

Quiz Did You Understand?

Week1: Tuesday September 3

Class Open Street Maps. Working in the field.

Lab 1 Dropbox; Scanning; Screenshots; Field Papers; editing Mills campus in OSM.


  1. Read Ferguson, K. 2010 Everything is a Remix*
  2. Read Wikipedia. Open Source*, especially sections on "Economic Analysis"* and "Society and Culture"* and "Peer Production"*
  3. Read Creative Commons. "about Creative Commons"* and watch the 3 minute video.
  4. View Stodden, V. 2011. "Transparency in Scientific Discovery: Innovation and Knowledge Dissemination"* (Open Science Summit Keynote 2011) (34:15)
Week 1: Thursday September 5

Class Open source; open science; peer production; crowd sourcing; creative commons; mix culture; ethics and intellectual property; innovation.

Quiz on open source concepts


  1. Oakland Geo Reading
Week 2: Tuesday September 10

Class More OSM

Before Lab
Read over OSM wiki on neighborhoods

Lab 2 OSM Fieldwork (tentative: Oakland Neighborhoods)

Quiz OSM and FieldPapers


  1. Soc128. The Elements of a Map
  2. ESRI. GIS is based on layers (~450)*
  3. ESRI. Key aspects of GIS (~550)*
  4. ESRI. Three fundamental representations of geographic information layers (~700)*
  5. GIGIS. Pp. 9-21 "Vector Data"
Week 2: Thursday September 12

Class GIS Basics; Points, lines, polygons. Vectors. Data. Layers. Maps. Scales. Projections. Legends.

Quiz GIS Basics.

Homework : Basics

  1. QGIS. "About QGIS" here* and here*
  2. (SKIM) Various. "Installing QGIS"*

Homework : What QGIS Looks Like

  1. (read) DeGroot @ KDMC. "QGIS Playing with the Interface I"*
  2. Berman, Lex. 2011. QGIS 1 - Intro to the User Interface* (3:37) @ Harvard CGA.
  3. Berman, Lex. 2011. QGIS 2 - Pan and zoom controls* (4:50) @ Harvard CGA

Homework : Doing Stuff

  1. (read) DeGroot @ KDMC. "Getting Started with QGIS"*
  2. Berman, Lex. 2011. QGIS 3 - LAYER ORDER* (3:11) @ Harvard CGA
  3. Watch Berman, Lex. 2011. QGIS 12 - Edit New Vector Layer* (5:35) and QGIS 13 - Editing Vector Layers* (5:27)

NOTE: Berman videos are a little dry….

Quiz Preliminaries

Week 3: Tuesday September 17

Class Everything you need to know about QGIS

Lab 3 Starting out with QGIS


  1. Try to install QGIS on whatever machine you will do most of your work on. Post queries about problems encountered.
Week 3: Thursday September 19

Class Troubleshoot installations. Walk through next several tutorials.


  1. Read articles on your choice of 4 districts, neighborhoods, or historic places on OaklandWiki (be sure to glance at OaklandWiki Geographers too. Log them in your work record.

Read the Documentation I

  1. Read/Do DeGroot @ KDMCQGIS. "Join Data to a Map and "Set a Color Range Based on Data
  2. Make ten maps and save as PDF or PNG in your "porfolio"
  3. Looking Ahead
Week 4: Tuesday September 24

Class How the Hands-on Stuff Works: Theory of Joins and Thematic Mapping

Lab 4 QGIS 2: Data Joins and Thematic Mapping

Quiz Thematic Mapping I


  1. View Berman, Lex. 2011. QGIS 4 - Identify & Select (7:23) and QGIS 5 - Attribute Query (4:17) and QGIS 7 - IMPORT X,Y Points from CSV (3:53)
  2. Do DeGroot @ KDMC. "QGIS Add Roads" and "QGIS Add Points"
Week 4: Thursday September 26

Class Spatial relations; Data relations; Attribute Tables; Query languages; Computed fields.

  • Slides (draft) 


  1. Intermediate Attribute Table Manipulation
Week 5: Tuesday October 1

Class Thematic Maps Continued: Lab Exercises Anticipated

Lab 5 QGIS III Queries, buffers, overlays, unions, intersections


  1. Watch Berman, Lex. 2011. QGIS 14 - Styles & Symbolization (6:49)
  2. Monmonier chapter on visuals
Week 5: Thursday October 3

Class Map Design and Graphic Communication I

  • Slides (draft) 


  1. Layer Properties Exercise
  2. Cartographic Elements, etc.
  3. Graphic Design
Week 6: Tuesday October 8

# DeGroot @ KDMC. "QGIS Export for Print"
# Wikipedia, "Data Visualization

Class The "Art" and the "Science" of Data Visualization with Maps I

Lab 6 QGIS 4 - Making Beautiful Maps with QGIS

Quiz Maps, Graphic Design, and Communication


  1. Read Chapter 3 section titled "EARTH" in GIS Commons Text (~5 pages)
  2. Watch this short video from the National Geographic Society and this One Minute Mapping (1:01) video from ESRI.
  3. Map projections of the Earth (2:48) from the PBS show "Life by the #s"
  4. Geography Tutor - Types of Maps and Map Projections (3:13)
  5. Michelle Rightler Latitude, Longitude, and Types of Map Projections (10:24) and Latitude, Longitude, and Types of Map Projections Part 2 (8:53)
  6. Watch Berman, Lex. 2011. QGIS 9 - Projections and CRS (5:23)
Week 6: Thursday October 10

Class Projections and Coordinate Systems I


  1. Ujaval Gandhi Tutorial: Working with Projections in QGIS
Week 7: Tuesday October 15

Class (1) Projections and Coordinate Reference Systems in QGIS (2) Introduction to "Geoprocessing"

  • Notes, Slides (draft) 

Lab 7 Projections and Coordinate Reference Systems


  1. Read
    1. DeGroot @ KDMC. "QGIS Analysis Tools"
    2. Geoprocessing I Quiz
Week 7: Thursday October 17

Class From GeoProcessing to Spatial Statistics

  • Slides (draft) 


  1. Read Wikipedia entry on Spatial Analysis
  2. Quiz Basic Spatial Statistics
  3. Read Robinson, WR 1950. "Ecological Correlations and the Behavior of Individuals." American Sociological Review, Vol 15. No 3 (Jun., 1950), 351–357.
  4. Read Subramanian,S V, Kelvyn Jones, Afamia Kaddour and Nancy Krieger. 2009. "Revisiting Robinson: The perils of individualistic and ecologic fallacy." Int. J. Epidemiol. (2009) 38 (2): 342-360. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyn359.
Week 8: Tuesday October 22

Class Intro to Spatial Statistics

Lab 8 Stats and Analysis


  1. Exercise based on lab
  2. Read Robinson, WR 1950. "Ecological Correlations and the Behavior of Individuals." American Sociological Review, Vol 15. No 3 (Jun., 1950), 351–357.

DROP DEADLINE Wednesday 23 October 5 pm

Week 8: Thursday October 24

Class Spatial Statistics II Ecological Fallacy


Week 9: Tuesday October 29

Class Spatial Statistics III Heat Mapping

Lab 9 Stats and Analysis II


Class Practical Geoprocessing and Statistics.

Week 9: Thursday October 31

Class Introduction to Coding


  1. CodeAcademy Exercises
Week 10: Tuesday November 5

Class Coding II

Lab 10 Code academy; learn to code; web scraping; data cleaning.


Week 10: Thursday November 7



Week 11: Tuesday November 12


Lab 11 Python code academy; learn to code; web scraping; data cleaning.


Week 11: Thursday November 14

Class What We Don't Yet Know How to Do in GIS


  1. Do
    1. DeGroot @ KDMC. "QGIS Simplifying a Map for Web Use"
    2. DeGroot @ KDMC. "QGIS Export an Interactive Map"
Week 12: Tuesday November 19


Lab 12 Web Mapping


Week 12: Thursday November 21



Week 13: Tuesday November 26

Lab 13 Class Project


Week 14: Tuesday December 3

Class Wrapping Up I

Lab 14 Wrapping Up II


  1. Read over skill and concept list for final exam. Bring questions to next class.
Week 14: Thursday December 5

Class Careers and Next Steps and Course Summary