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School of the Environment


Emphasis in Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

GIS is central to a lot of work in geography, environment, and other fields.  Knowing how to use and apply GIS tools can provide students a big benefit when it comes to finding good jobs after university. Students at Trent may follow three general paths with regard to learning and practicing work with GIS:

GIS Fundamentals (GEOG-ERSC 2090H):

Students may take this course to learn the fundamentals of map making, working with digital geographic data, gaining some experience working with ArcGIS, and performing some elementary GIS operations.

  • This course requires one or more of first year Geography, ERS, or Biology.
  • This course is a required course for all Geography majors.

Intermediate GIS (within Trent)

Students may expand their knowledge and experience in GIS by taking one or more of several Trent GIS courses (see list below).  These courses each have their own prerequisites, and may include GEOG-ERSC 2090H (to ensure some experience with GIS) and math credits (to ensure an understanding of varous data analysis techniques).  Consult the Trent Academic Calendar for details on these courses, and the Trent Academic Timetable for which of these courses is offered in the current/upcoming academic term(s).

  • ERSC-GEOG 3010H: Fundamentals of GIS Analysis
  • GEOG-ERSC 3020H: Remote Sensing of the Environment
  • GEOG-ERSC 4450H: Spatial Modelling with GIS
  • opportunities to apply GIS in other courses, such as ERSC-GEOG 4640H, Thesis and Community-Based Research Project courses

Emphasis in GIS

Students may expand their GIS experience further by completing three semesters of courses at Fleming College in the third year of their degree. This Emphasis is open to students majoring in the Honours degrees of Geography, Environmental and Resource Science or Studies, or Archaeology.

Raul Ponce Hernandez with students measuring data on map
Students conducting GIS work in a lab of ERSC-GEOG 4640H, Watershed Management.

The Emphasis in Geographic Information Systems: Intensive GIS at Trent and Fleming

Students that want more extensive GIS knowledge and experience from their degree may complete the Emphasis in Geographic Information Systems.  This program of study is available to students taking an Honours (4-year) degree in any of:

  • Archaeology B.A. or B.Sc.
  • Environmental and Resource Studies B.A. or Science B.Sc.
  • Geography B.A. or B.Sc.

Students enrolled in the Emphasis in GIS register as full-time Fleming students during their third year, and complete 3 semesters of GIS classes at the Frost Campus of Fleming College in Lindsay (note there is a shuttle that runs between Peterborough and Frost Campus). During the Fleming year, students may choose between two GIS Programs:

  • GIS Application Specialist
  • GIS Cartographic Specialist

This Emphasis in GIS is more work than a Honours degree alone, and students have fewer elective courses because of the GIS focus, but they earn more for their work.

  • Students complete five credits in each of their first two years at Trent, then complete 3 semesters of classes at Fleming in their third year, return to complete their remaining 3 credits at Trent in their fourth year.  
  • Students must successfully complete all three semesters of one of the Fleming Programs above with a minimum 60% grade in all courses to earn the Ontario College Graduate Certificate.  These courses count towards their Trent degree as 7 upper-level Trent science credits, 4.5 of which count as 3000-level credits in their major, and 2.5 count as unassigned 3000-level credits.

Students successfully completing the Emphasis in GIS earn more for the extra work.  In four years, a successful student will earn:

  • a Trent Honours degree in their chosen field of study (from above), with a note on their Trent transcript indicating the completed Emphasis.
  • an Ontario College Graduate Certificate in their chosen Fleming GIS Program (from above)

Program Requirements

The Emphasis in GIS requires (by the end of 2nd year) at least 10.0 university credits, including

  • the 1000-level introductory course plus at least 2.0 additional credits in the student's major (one of Geography, Environmental and Resource Science or Studies, or Archaeology)
  • the course GEOG-ERSC 2090H (Introduction to Geographical Information Systems)
  • at least 1.0 credits from Computing & Information Systems

In addition, Geography majors should have successfully completed GEOG-BIOL-ERSC 2080H (Natural Science Statistics).

Interested students are encouraged to acquire as much computer programming experience as possible beyond the required courses, in order to equip themselves for the Technical Issues component of the Fleming year.  Experience in algorithm design with C++ programming and Visual Basic languages would be an asset.


Students will take courses that meet the requirements of their Trent degree; please see courses offered by the respective academic unit via the Trent University Calendar, Trent University Timetable, and/or the academic unit's website:

  • Archaeology B.A. or B.Sc.
  • Environmental and Resource Studies B.A. or Science B.Sc.
  • Geography B.A. or B.Sc.


Applicants should consult with the Director/Chair of their academic program at Trent:

Anthropology contact information

Environmental and Resource Science/Studies or Geography, contact the Trent School of the Environment.

It is recommended that students make contact in their first year or early in second year, because completing the Emphasis in GIS requires some planning with respect to courses.  Completed application forms must be submitted to the Director of the Trent School of the Environment by January 20 of the student's second year.

Application does not guarantee admission.  Select is based on the courses and cumulative averages to date, including mid-year grades in second year.  Students are informed of the results of their application prior to the opening of registration at Trent in spring.  Successful applicants receive a letter of acceptance and contact information for the Fleming year of the Program. Admitted students must also apply online to the Ontario College Application Service.


For the third year of the program, you will pay tuition to Fleming College. For the other three years you will pay tuition at Trent. You are also required to pay the appropriate fee to the Ontario College Application Service.

Map of Trent University Ash density
An example of a map created via GIS for use by the Trent Nature Areas and Physical Resources, as preparations are made for the arrival of the invasive species Emerald Ash Borer.