Students Staff

19 July 2016

Discover new way to map your research and join new ArcGIS user group

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact, Student experience — Communications Office @ 12:13 pm
Map of Essex created with ArcGIS

Map of Essex created with ArcGIS

Essex academics and postgraduate students are being offered the chance to use a powerful suite of software, apps and online tools to map out their research in a new and exciting way.

The University has a license for ArcGIS which allows you to create and share beautiful maps based on your research. An ArcGIS user group has now been setup to share experiences and provide support.

The system is already being used in history, sociology and biological sciences and Dr Leanne Appleby Hepburn, who is promoting ArcGIS thanks to a Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund award, is now looking to create a users’ group to help other people find out more and start using it in their research and teaching.

  • For more information about learning to use ArcGIS and to join the user group email Leanne at:

Leanne said: “We use the software in both teaching and research and employers specify this skill in many graduate level jobs.  We are inviting anyone across the University who is interested in learning more about this software to get in touch so that we can encourage interest and set up a meeting.

“Our license covers the whole University so we want to make people aware we have this resource available. “

Case studies

Mapping marine and terrestrial habitats

Leanne is using the ArcGIS Collector app to map environments being studied by students. She said: “I’m using ArcGIS apps in the field for practical work by students where we are mapping marine and terrestrial habitats.

“We are also starting a new Oceanography and Marine Conservation field course in Greece this year where student will be using ArcGIS to map the distribution and abundance of protected Poisdonia seagrass beds – which are a vital part of the Mediterranean ecosystem.

“We also use ArcGIS to map the Blackwater estuary native oyster population which was used as important data in the designation of the area as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ).”

Mapping domestic abuse

Ruth Weir, from the Department of Sociology, who is researching domestic abuse patterns in Essex, added: “I’ve been using ArcGIS to identify predictors of domestic abuse.  I’ve used Geographically Weighted Regression, from the spatial analyst extension, to model predictors and look at how the relationships vary across Essex.

“I also ran a Proficio course for postgraduate students in April and I’m working with Professor Pamela Cox to introduce ArcGIS into teaching for third year undergraduate criminology students and Masters students.”

Helping visualise history of Colchester

Dr Justin Colson from the Department of History is excited about enriching the learning experience for students: “On my new module ‘Mapping History and Heritage in Colchester’ students will be using ArcGIS to interact with historic maps of the town from various eras, as well as information such as the census and trade directories. They’ll use ArcGIS to produce their own projects mapping change in different aspects of Colchester’s shops, industries and culture.

“I’m also working with the same material, as well as data shared by Colchester Borough Council and the Colchester Archaeological Trust, to produce a comprehensive atlas of the town’s development.”

Training opportunities

In 2016-17 staff and postgraduate students will be able to take advantage of Ruth’s course on ArcGIS while Justin will be running additional courses on concepts of mapping and using the online ArcGIS app.


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