Geography 318: Computer Cartography, Fall 2003


Contact the Course Instructor:



Electronic Mail


Office Hours

Dr. Rob Hellström

301, Conant Science

(508) 531-2842

MWRF 10 AM-12; or by appointment

Course Prerequisites:

GE216 Manual Cartography or GE210 Cartographic Design, or consent of the instructor. Attention to detail and persistence are valuable traits for success. You should be familiar with the Microsoft Window’s environment, including basic experience with spreadsheets such as Excel. Please contact the instructor during the first week of classes if you have questions.

Course Structure:


Call #

Day, Time




T, 3:05-4:55 PM

#M224 Moakley Center



R, 3:05-4:55 PM

#M224 Moakley Center

Required Textbook:

This text contains reading material and diagrams necessary to complete this course. It is available at the Bridgewater State College bookstore:

  • Slocum, T. A., 1999: Thematic Cartography and Visualization. Prentice Hall. 224 pp.

Helpful Resources:

These text resources are not required, but may be helpful:

  • Dent, B. D., 1999: Cartography—Thematic Map Design, Fifth Ed., WCB/McGraw-Hill.
  • Monmonier, M. S., 1993: Mapping it Out. University of Chicago.
  • Robinson, A. H., J. L. Morrison, P. C. Muehrcke, A. J. Kimerling, and S. C. Guptill, 1995: Elements of Cartography, Sixth Ed., John Wiley and Sons, 674 pp.
  • Wood, D., 1992: The Power of Maps. The Guilford Press.
  • Many more books related to the material covered by the course textbook at:
  • World Wide Web site to support the course textbook:


Guides to software and hardware that you will use:


·                FastCAD 32, User’s guide, Evolution Computing, Inc., 1999, 358 pp. (see Instructor)

·                MapViewer 5, User’s guide, Golden Software, Inc., 2002, 411 pp. (see Instructor)

·                Introduction to ArcView GIS, ESRI Education Services and web sites with tutorials.



Course Objectives:

Course description

Maps are valuable tools for displaying, interpreting and analyzing patterns of human-environment interactions. This course introduces the basic concepts and procedures necessary to design, construct, interpret, and update straightforward and effective maps.






You will learn the process and methods of map design, including: digitizing, creating maps with computer-aided drawing software, manipulating data with a spreadsheet, and using specialized mapping software to visualize and analyze geographically distributed data. This course provides a background for more advanced courses in cartography and geographic information systems (GIS). You will be exposed to the basic functions of ArcView GIS (v. 3.2) at the end of this course.

The Blackboard ( online course system at Bridgewater State College will provide much of the material and electronic methods of communicating in this course. You will need access to a computer with and Internet connection (Internet Explorer or Netscape) and the Microsoft Office sweet (PowerPoint, Word, Excel) to effectively use the GE318 Blackboard site.

You will receive instructions for accessing the GE318 Blackboard site during the first class meeting. This site will provide weekly announcements, electronic submission of homework assignments, a venue for e-mail contact with fellow students, lecture outlines and exam study materials. You may print out lecture outlines from this site prior to class meetings. The majority of projects will require use of computers provided in the classroom, the Conant Science Bldg. computer lab (#201), and open access labs around campus.

Lecture format

In addition to providing about 80% of the conceptual information found on exams in this course, the instructor will use the last portion (about ½ hour) of each lecture period to discuss lab assignments and provide valuable guidance for successful completion. Attendance is not mandatory, with the exception of attending the three exams.

Lab format

It is in your best interest to attend all lab periods, as this is your time to gain experience in computer mapping techniques, and you will have access to all the resources you need. The time during the scheduled lab period is fully devoted to your work on assignments and the instructor will be available for guidance and to answer questions concerning the class material. You are encouraged to use this time finish your projects, and you may consult with your classmates to share ideas and insight regarding the assignment.


Your final grade is based on three (3) written examinations, one (1) group project and seven (7) Independent projects. Examinations contain multiple choice, short answer/analysis, and essay questions; information is taken from material covered in the lecture outline. No makeup exams, except under extreme circumstances; you must notify instructor prior to the exam date.

·         Exam I (10%): Tuesday, September 30th, 3:05-3:55 pm.

·         Exam II (10%): Tuesday, October 28th, 3:05-3:55 pm; material since Exam I

·         Final Exam (20%): Tuesday, December 16th, 2:00-4:00 pm; covers entire course

·         Group Project (10%): Each group of 3 or 4 members will receive a project description from the instructor and each member is required to complete a task. A designated group leader is responsible for coordinating members of the group and ensuring that the project is completed on time. All members of a particular group will receive identical grades. Each team is required to use the cartographic process (the communication model) to collect data from the real world to produce a clear, effective map. The Lab Outline provides further details.

·         Independent Projects (50%): You will practice basic cartographic design techniques by completing seven (7) tasks, each within a two-week period (except the first one). The Lab Outline and handouts will provide details. Grading sheets provide categories tailored to each project for performance evaluation. The instructor will return your graded projects approximately one (1) week after the assignment due date. All projects must be typed—details given in project handouts. Students are encouraged to submit projects in digital format via the “digital drop box” in Blackboard (save paper). Late projects will receive a 10% reduction automatically and a 25% reduction if handed in greater than seven days after the due date.


You are highly encouraged to attend all class meetings as scheduled in the course Outline. Role will be called periodically, as required by the school. If you cannot attend a particular class, please contact the instructor prior to that class period, so that you can obtain necessary materials.

Supplies you need to purchase:

·       One loose-leaf, 3-ring binder (1.5 to 2.0 inch size) to organize lecture handouts and assignments

·       Two 3.5 inch diskettes (IBM formatted) and/or use of W-drive on Bridgewater network

·       You are required to use your Bridgewater Internet account to register on Blackboard, as it contains most of the course material and permits communication and file transfer for group projects. Thereafter, you may access Blackboard from any off-campus Internet browsers.

Special needs: 

Any student eligible for and needing academic adjustments or accommodations because of a disability is requested to speak with the professor within the first two weeks of scheduled classes. At any time during the semester, feel free to contact the Office of Disability Resources in the Academic Achievement Center, located in the basement of the Maxwell Library 001 (508) 531-1214.

“In compliance with Bridgewater State College policy and equal access legislation, I am available to discuss appropriate accommodations that you may require as a student with a disability. Requests for academic accommodations should be made during the add/drop period, unless there are unusual circumstances, so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Students are encouraged to register with the Disability Resources Office in the Maxwell Library for disability verification and determination of reasonable academic accommodations.”


Geography 318: Computer Cartography, Fall 2003
Lecture Outline





Supporting Materials



Sep. 4th

Introduction + Blackboard

Ch. 1 book & Handouts




Map Reading, Navigation and Symbolizations

Ch. 2.1-2.6 & Handouts




Earth Coordinates, Scale and Projections





Map Design, Typography, Color and Reproduction of Maps

Chapt. 2.7, 5.1.1, 5.3, 6 & Handouts




Exam I

Material through Sep. 23rd



Oct. 7th

Work on Independent Project #3





Statistics, Data Classification and Interpolation

Ch. 3, 4, 8 & Handouts




Choropleth and Proportional Symbol Mapping

Ch. 2.4, 2.5 & 6 & 7 & Handouts




Exam II

Material since Exam I



Nov. 4th

Cartograms and Univariate Mapping

Ch. 11 & Handouts




Remote Sensing Images for Maps





Geographic Information Systems I

Ch. 13 & Handouts + Draft of Project Report due




Geographic Information Systems II





No Class: Thanksgiving Recess

Happy Thanksgiving!



Dec. 2nd

Work on Group Projects

Planning your presentation




Group Presentations

Prepare 20 minute presentation




Review for Final Exam

Questions and concerns




Reading Day (no class)

Study for Final Exam




Final Exam (2:00 – 4:00 pm)

Covers entire course





Geography 318: Computer Cartography, Fall 2003

Lab Outline

Independent Projects

  • Assigned on Tuesdays (you have two weeks to complete all projects, except the first)
  • The projects can be completed during the lab period (Thursday, 3:05-4:55 PM, Moakley Center #M224)
  • Extra time outside of class may be necessary: FastCAD, MapViewer and ArcView GIS software will be available in the M224, open access labs on campus and in the second floor computer lab (#201) in the Conant Science Bldg.


Date Assigned

Project Title

Due Date


Sep. 9th

Map Reading and Orienteering (1 week project)

Sep. 16th



Learning FastCAD




Digitizing, Editing and Printing Maps with FastCAD

Oct. 14th


Oct. 14th

Learning MapViewer




Data, Boundaries and Graphics with MapViewer

Nov. 12th


Wed. Nov. 12th

Thematic Mapping and Projections with MapViewer




Geographic Information Systems with ArcView

Dec. 9th


Group Project

  • Details on format are forthcoming
  • Three or four members per group. One member is designated group leader and is responsible for maintaining group dynamics and effectively communicating objectives; use of Blackboard’s Discussion Board and Group Pages is encouraged.
  • 10% of final course grade = 5% for project paper (outline due Tues. Oct. 21st, draft due Tues. Nov. 18th; final report due Thurs. Dec. 4th) + 5% for presentation on Thurs. Dec. 4th

General Description: The primary objective of the group project is to produce a real or virtual map that serves its purpose and communicates information effectively to the intended user. Your group should follow cartographic design process, as discussed in class and schematically shown below. Each member of your group should focus on at least one portion of this process. Use your knowledge of controls on graphic design (technical limits, design objectives, and perception) to select the scale, projection, generalization, symbolization and production.