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Applications of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation

Short course Applications of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation

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The fields of earth observation and geo-information science are gradually moving away from the traditional mapping or “inventory” type of science towards understanding the processes that shape our environment, predict future effects and provide reliable information to support planning and policy making.

This ten-week course focuses on solving problems within a specific application field. You can choose from a selection of fields, which enables you to apply geo-information science and earth observation knowledge in a local (international) context through Spatial-temporal analysis and the development of models while considering socio-environmental drivers.

For whom is the course relevant?

This ten-week course is designed for international young and mid-career professionals who perform or aspire to perform, tasks predominantly in applied research or require academic knowledge and skills to enhance the execution of their work.

You can share your knowledge and experiences in group work, discussion groups, and assignments.

If you have only a limited knowledge of GIS and earth observation principles, you could opt for the Principles of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation course.

Choice of content

You will choose one of the topics below. Each topic consists of two (7 EC) courses. 

  • Applied Remote Sensing for Earth Sciences

    This topic consists of two 7 EC courses

    Spectral Data Processing

    This course focuses on remote sensing data processing from multiple missions, with emphasis earth science applications. The backbone is an introduction to scripting: writing own scripts allows to create custom processing solutions, and can also be used to automate the processing of large data sets for earth science applications.

    More information can be found in our current Study Guide.

    Spectral Geology

    This course focuses on the use of spectroscopic methods to obtain geologic information related to, for example, minerals and rocks, mineralised and geothermal systems, soils and other natural materials. It is designed for students with a solid understanding of Earth Sciences who wish to use state-of-the-art spectroscopic methods to analyse the mineral content and texture of samples. 

    More information can be found in our current Study Guide.

  • Geoinformatics

    This topic consists of two 7 EC courses

    Acquisition and Exploration of Geospatial Data

    One driver of today’s information society is geospatial data. Recent years have seen an increase in volume and diversity of geospatial data. In this course, you will use algorithmic thinking and programming skills to find, retrieve, store, and explore various geospatial datasets.

    In scientific research significant time and effort goes into acquiring, understanding, and cleaning the data before the actual analysis begins. Maps and diagrams are not only used to present the final results but also to verify and explore the data during the whole data processing process phase. After this course, you will have a good overview of acquisition and exploration of geospatial data principles and methods.

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

    Scientific Geocomputing

    In this course, you learn about developing algorithmic solutions to geospatial problems. Turn-key software systems for geo-information science and Earth observation are functionally powerful but have no instant solution to each geospatial problem. The ability to construct custom solutions is an essential capability of the Geoinformatics specialist, who should have competence in addressing geospatial problems by algorithmic solutions. You specifically learn about solution strategies, high-level solution descriptions in pseudo-code, and translations of these into implementation in some programming language. We will also discuss the scientific side of programming by an introduction into literate programming, which emphasizes documentation of code and the FAIR principles of scientific data management, which apply to data and code. We emphasize the role of data in geospatial algorithms, as these are often data-intensive. By reviewing and developing (pseudo-)code, you will increase your understanding of basic concepts in geo-information science and Earth observation like spatial filters, maximum likelihood classification, coordinate transforms and least-squares adjustment. The course’s programming language will be Python. 

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

  • Geo-information Management for Land Administration

    This topic consists of two 7 EC courses

    Land Information Systems and Models

    Land information systems are systems for acquiring, processing, storing, and distributing information about the land. They may contribute to secure land tenure or support land valuation, land use planning and land development. Despite contextual differences between countries, there are fundamental concepts that apply to all land information systems. The main objective of this course is to discover, apply, and assess these concepts and technologies – and inspire students to deploy them in the creation and maintenance of scalable real-world land information systems. Modelling of data and processes for land administration is a crucial part of this course.

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

    Responsible Land Administration

    This course introduces land administration in the context of land policy and sustainable development using the land management paradigm as an initial guiding framework. The course relates state-of-the-art scientific knowledge to students' experiences, perceptions and country context.

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

  • Natural Resources Management

    This topic consists of two 7 EC courses

    From Data to Geo-information for Natural Resources Management

    Sound management of natural resources requires adequate geo-information describing spatial and temporal dimensions of the ecosystems. This involves - in most cases - large datasets, originating from multiple sources and stakeholders from various disciplines and institutions. The internet plays an increasingly important role, not only for acquiring data but also for storing, sharing and disseminating data. An online information platform allows the sharing and exchange of data and information. This implies that data must be acquired, handled, (pre)processed, standardized and their quality and fitness for use must be assessed.

    Based on information requirements for a forest, agricultural or environmental system, you will learn to implement this on an online platform. After the acquisition of data from various on- and off-line sources its fitness for use will be assessed. You will be introduced into statistical tools and techniques for exploratory data analysis and assessment of data quality.

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

    Systems Approach for Management of Natural Resources

    This course has a multi-disciplinary focus. You learn to unravel and deal with the complexity and large variation in Natural Resources Management (NRM) issues. It challenges you to develop a common basis for the assessment of the multi-actor, multi-purpose, multi-level and multi-disciplinary nature of NRM.

    Concepts of NRM are reviewed and discussed and particular attention is given to the importance of geo-spatial data, techniques and expertise in NRM.

    You learn to apply systems thinking and analytical reasoning when translating complex real-world situations into conceptual diagrams. This enables you to describe and develop knowledge about how ecosystems work and how human activities make an impact on natural systems. You discover how this step is essential in identifying cause-effect relationships which exist in space and time. You are also challenged to select biophysical or socio-economic variables that need quantification. The application of remote sensing and GIS is targeted towards making claims about environmental problems and solutions. Conceptualizing real-world situations also helps students in identifying knowledge gaps and formulating research hypotheses.

    Natural Resources Management is a multiple-stakeholder effort per default. Therefore, part of the assignments will involve working in multi-disciplinary teams.

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

  • Urban Planning and Management

    This topic consists of two 7 EC courses

    Planning Sustainable Cities

    This course aims to develop a critical understanding of spatial planning based on academic discourses, the international development agenda and your own experiences. Throughout the course, the role of spatial data and information systems in urban planning and management will be highlighted and illustrated.

    You will develop a spatial understanding of specific urban issues in your home country by applying knowledge and skills in spatial information handling. The concept of Sustainability will be introduced and discussed in light of its rise as a global development paradigm since the early 90s. We will address The Sustainable City as one of the visions of desirable future cities. We make use of GIS-based and statistical methods to measure the dynamics of working towards sustainability in an urban context. Available databases and data catalogues will be retrieved to map sustainability indicators. Different sustainability frameworks will be studied and debated, including bottom-up planning processes and concepts contributing to the sustainable development of cities and regions (such as Local Agenda 21, transition towns, cradle to cradle, peak oil, eco urbanism, and degrowth).

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

    Building Inclusive and Competitive Cities

    Cities are unequal. Considerable parts of the urban population, especially in the Global South, are poor, whereas others are affluent. In part, poverty is associated with the influx of poor rural immigrants in need of jobs, shelter and basic services such as water, electricity, education and health care. Levels of access to these basic services can differ a lot between socio-economic groups and will also vary across urban space. To address such inequalities, contemporary urban development strategies and policies are directed towards the inclusion of socially and economically weaker groups. These groups need to benefit most from sustainable planning interventions. Here, inclusiveness and competitiveness need to be linked, only inclusive cities can be truly competitive. Successful cities offer competitive locations and are centres of innovation, where liveability and inclusiveness are important factors.

    Classical economic models frequently disregard the role of geography when analysing the economic performance of an urban region, yet urban competitiveness requires an understanding of spatial relationships inside cities (e.g., variations of locational factors and clustering of economic activities). Furthermore, the role of land use (planning) and land markets is essential for understanding competitiveness in all its dimensions for building competitive and inclusive cities.

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

  • Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction

    This topic consists of two 7 EC courses

    Introduction to Hazard and Risk

    This course aims at developing an understanding of the main types of natural hazards and of the disaster risk concept. This includes attention for geo-information and geomatics tools, in particular remote sensing, to study, monitor and quantify aspects of hazard risk and disasters. The course is designed to provide participants with a knowledge base as input for further focus on predictive hazard modelling and disaster risk management.

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

    Natural Hazard Modelling

    This course focuses on the data-driven modelling of hydro-meteorological hazards, with particular emphasis on statistical models of multivariate nature, that combine the spatial and temporal aspects of hazardous processes. The course includes attention for the inventory and monitoring of hazard occurrences using cloud-based solutions. 

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

  • Water Resources and Environmental Management

    This topic consists of two 7 EC courses

    Earth Observation of Water Resources

    Space agencies use earth observations to provide a wealth of spatial information on the present-day water resources, in terms of quantity as well as quality. In this course, students will learn the physical principles of how water affects electromagnetic signals recorded by Earth observing sensors.

    You will learn tools and methods to collect, process, and visualize Earth observation data that either includes or can be used to derive rainfall, soil moisture, evapotranspiration and water quality. In addition, students will be taught to deduce spatially distributed hydrological state variables from earth observation data and assess its reliability.

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

    Hydrological and Environmental Cycles

    The purpose of this course is to have a physical process-based understanding of hydrological and environmental cycles. It deals with the occurrence, distribution, circulation, and properties of water, energy and carbon in the Earth system.

    The hydrological and environmental processes include the physical (e.g. water & energy) and biogeochemical (e.g. carbon) processes through the atmosphere, to the Earth, over and beneath the land surface, to the ocean, and back to the atmosphere (e.g. known as the water cycle, energy cycle and carbon cycle). These three cycles play the central role in processes regulating the Earth system, where human activity is now inseparable from natural events.

    The introduction to the concept of these cycles and their main components forms the framework of this course. 

    More information about the course can be found in our current Study guide.

Why choose this course?

By studying in an international and multicultural environment, you will become acquainted with ready-to-use GIS and earth observation tools and methods. Through the application of this knowledge and skills, you will be able to leverage informed decision-making within many organizations.

About your diploma

The short course Applications of Geographic Information Systems and Earth Observation is part of the accredited Master's in Geo-information Science and Earth Observation. If you decide to take the full Master’s at ITC, this course counts as part of a full programme; therefore, upon successful completion, you will be granted an exemption for the second quartile of the two-year Master’s programme.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will receive a Certificate which will include the name of the course. 

Along with your Certificate you will receive a Course Record providing the name, and if applicable, all the subjects studied as part of the course. It states: the course code, subject, EC credits, exam date, location and the mark awarded.

This certificate course is part of the accredited Master’s  Geo-information Science and earth Observation at ITC. If you decide to take the full Master’s Geo-information Science and Earth Observation at ITC, the Examination Board will give you in principle exemption from the course you followed successfully as a certificate course.

Admission requirements

Academic level and background

Applicants for the Certificate programme should have a bachelor's degree or equivalent from a recognised university in a discipline related to the course, preferably combined with working experience in a relevant field.

Some courses in the Certificate programme or separate modules require knowledge of, and skills in, working with GIS and/or digital image processing of remotely sensed data.

Skills in taught or related subjects are a prerequisite for some courses in the Certificate programme or separate modules. Even if the applicant satisfies the overall admission requirements, acceptance is not automatic.


The faculty accepts transcripts, degrees and diplomas in the languages: Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish. It is at the discretion of the faculty to require additional English translations of all documents in other languages as well.

Language skills

Success in your studies requires a high level of English proficiency. Therefore, prospective students with an international (other than Dutch) degree must meet the English language requirement. As proof that you meet this requirement, you will be asked in the application procedure to upload one of the requested language certificates:

Only these internationally recognised test results are accepted. Without a valid certificate, we cannot process your application.  

Other requirements

You are exempted from the English language requirement if you hold:

Computer skills

If you lack computer experience, we strongly advise you to follow basic courses in your home country.

Notebook requirements

When you study in an ITC programme, you should have a notebook computer that meets  ITC's technical notebook requirements.

Key information

CROHO code
12 weeks
100% English-taught
Application deadline
3 September 2024
non EU/EEA
3 September 2024
3 September 2024
Starting date
11 November 2024
End date
31 January 2025
Tuition fees
Full period 2023 / 2024
full-time, non-EU/EEA
€ 3,906
full-time, EU/EEA
€ 3,906
2024 / 2025
full-time, non-EU/EEA
€ 3,962
full-time, EU/EEA
€ 3,962
Additional costs
Cost of living, full programme
€ 3.567
Insurance, full programme
€ 164
Please note
Additional costs are subject to change, depending on the duration of your stay.