Cerrar Mapa

Master in

Integrated planning for rural development and environmental management

Last edition: 1st part: 26 September 2016 – 9 June 2017 / 2nd part: September 2017 – June 2018 ··

Master in

Integrated planning for rural development and environmental management

General information on the Unit

Contact hours: 90 (40 classroom, 50 practicals)
Personal work hours: 135
Character: Compulsory
Venue: Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza
- Developed during the first academic year of the Master. This Unit acts as a support for the different learning stages composing Unit 8. Thus, the subjects are programmed throughout the course as required by the optimum development of Unit 8. The topic of cartographic analysis is developed at the beginning of the first semester; the topic of geographic information systems is developed throughout all the first semester; the topic of socioeconomic statistic analysis is developed at the beginning of the second semester, and the topic of remote sensing in the middle of the second semester.
- The assessment of this Unit is carried out in four written exams corresponding to each of the subjects. The exam on cartographic analysis takes place on the same day as the exam for Unit 1, and is complemented by the global assessment of the practicals (1) and (2). The exam on geographic information systems is done separately at the end of the first semester and is complemented by the global assessment of the practicals. The exam on socioeconomic statistic analysis is carried out in the second semester, on the same day as the exam for Unit 5 and is complemented by the global assessment of the group work. The exam on remote sensing takes place in the second semester, on the same day as the last exam for Unit 7.
Requisites and permanence
There are no previous requisites
Learning methods
Combination of theoretical and practical sessions, and individual and group work.
Lecturers may deliver the course in Spanish or in English. In the second case, simultaneous interpretation into Spanish is provided. The documents supplied by the lecturers may also be written in Spanish or in English.


Presentation of the Unit and context within the syllabus

This Unit provides knowledge and skills on the utilization of the main tools used in socioeconomic and spatial analysis of a territory: cartographic analysis, geographic information systems and digital database management, remote sensing and its application to natural resource management, and the analysis of socioeconomic statistical data. This Unit has an essentially practical approach based on the use of techniques, knowledge of its advantages and limitations, and the interpretation of the results obtained.


Learning outcomes

The student, at the end of the learning of this Unit:

  • Masters the fundamentals of the cartographic representation of spatial variables and the different types of basic and derived maps enabling characterization of the land, and has gained practical experience in the elaboration of maps, in the interpretation of their information and in their application to environmental and rural management.
  • Recognizes the main digital databases relevant to planning activities and is familiar with their usage and management.
  • Masters the basic principles of operation, handling and usage of geographic information systems (GIS) in typical applications, and is skilled in the application of GIS programs for processing and analysis of geo-referenced data.
  • Knows the concepts, characteristics and uses of remote sensing for the management of natural resources, and assesses its possibilities for obtaining valuable information for spatial planning.
  • Is capable of using the statistical methods relevant in the socioeconomic analysis of rural areas, and of carrying out a correct interpretation of results.



Specific competences

  • ­SC4 Characterizing and assessing the different sub-systems (physical, economic and social) and elements interacting in rural areas, and diagnosing their potentials and limitations. [focusing on the economic sub-system]
  • ­SC5 Applying principles, methods and techniques for the spatial and socio-economic analysis of a territory, and foreseeing the most probable changes throughout time.
  • ­ SC8 Acknowledging the importance of society’s participation in planning projects for the development of rural areas, and applying methodologies and techniques to promote this participation.

General competences

  • ­ GC1 Integrating scientific and technical knowledge and applying them discerningly.
  • ­ GC2 Performing scientific and/or technical information searches and processing them selectively.
  • ­GC3 Analyzing results or strategies and elaborating conclusions which contribute to clarify the problems and to find possible solutions.
  • ­ GC6 Team-working and promoting exchange and collaboration attitudes with other students, researchers and professionals.
  • ­ CG7 Communicating reasoning and conclusions both to a general audience and to a specialized public.



  • Cartography analysis for rural planning
  • Geographic information systems and digital database management
  • Introduction to remote sensing and its application to natural resource management
  • Socioeconomic statistical analysis

Learning activities

Learning activity 1: Lectures
ECTS: 6.2
Hours: 154
Percentage of contact: 26%

Learning activity 2: Practical work on:
- (1) access to servers, cartography viewers and compilation of an inventory of the cartographic information available for a specific municipality.
- (2) design, elaboration and layout of an environmental units map.
- (3) analysis of basic and thematic cartography: interpretation of topographic and geologic maps, scale and slope exercises, calculation of geographic coordinates and UTM, elaboration of topographic profiles, interpretation of geological cross-sections, interpretation of geomorphological maps, use and handling of aerial and stereoscopic images, definition of homogeneous units and environmental characterization of such units.
Students carry out the practicals working individually.
Geographic information systems
- (4) introduction to the software used
- (5) raster image georeferencing and digitalization and creation of a topology of geographic elements: lines, dots and polygons
- (6) import/export, raster/vector conversion
- (7) digital land models (DLM): slopes, orientations, viewsheds
- (8) interpolation of the temperatures in one area through a mixed method, including a second-degree trend surface, a digital elevation model and a residual interpolation of splines in tension
Students carry out the practicals working in pairs, but they must present the result reports individually.
Remote sensing
- (9) understanding of an image, visualization of bands and channels of Landsat-TM images, image browsing and identification of a pixel's digital value, generation of a histogram.
- (10) contrast improvement of single-band images, interpretation of the thermal channel of a thematic map, construction of colour composites, generation of real and pseudo colour RGB image composites, interpretation of the different colours in the composites.
- (11) calculation of the normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI), interpretation of an NDVI image, comparison of images from different sensors and assessment of the appropriateness of each sensor for each application.
- (12) understanding how positioning errors can occur in spatial data and combination of satellite images with other data to improve their utility.
- (13) visual analysis of ERS-2 SAR images identifying different features and scattering mechanisms, appreciation of foreshortening and layover on SAR images, speckle identification and filter-removal, creation of a difference image of the co-registered speckle filtered images, and creation of an RGB of the two images and their differences and colour interpretation in the image.
Students carry out the practicals working in pairs.
Socioeconomic statistical analysis
- (14) introduction to InfoStat and sample distributions
- (15) realization of cross-tabulations, chi square tests, one-sample t-test, one- or double-sided test choice and verification of the chi-square test assumptions.
- (16) average and mean comparison in two and three groups through t-test and Anova.
- (17) petrol consumption prediction for cars and study of the influence of distance in the number of visits to a store through correlation and simple regression analysis.
- (18) measurement of the acceptance of the incorporation of a specific device to cars and prediction of petrol consumption of cars through multiple regression analysis.
Students carry out the practicals working in pairs.
ECTS: 2.5
Hours: 61 [(1): 2, (2): 6, (3): 4,  (4)-(8): 33, (9)-(13): 8, (14)-(18): 8]
Percentage of contact:  69.5% [(1): 25%, (2): 25%, (3): 100%,  (4)-(8): 60%, (9)-(18): 100%]

Learning activity 3: Work in groups, where students design a small questionnaire for a socioeconomic research survey applied to a specific case. The work is organized in four stages: (i) formulation of the main question for the research; (ii) elaboration of a conceptual model for at least three groups of variables, indication of the relationships between groups and identification of the variables within each group; (iii) definition of each variable and description of how to carry out the measuring; and (iv) elaboration of the questionnaire and preparation of the presentation. Optionally, the groups can also outline the plan for data collection and the plan for survey analysis. The different groups present their results and these are discussed in class; additionally, a discussion on the criteria for using each technique is performed.
ECTS: 0.3
Hours: 8
Percentage of contact: 100%


Assessment method

Assessment system 1: Written exams, composed by questions provided by the different lecturers of the Unit. The questions are concrete and require a short development. The exam assesses the content of lectures and the understanding of the practicals which are not evaluated separately, through the realization of exercises similar to those developed during the practical sessions.
In the written exam, the questions are marked according to the technical and conceptual precision of the answer, and to the reasoning approach, and the exercises according to the understanding of the methodology applied and the validity of the results obtained.
Weighting: 72.5% of the final score of the Unit

Assessment system 2: Global assessment of the results of the cartography practicals (1) and (2) and the geographic information systems practicals (4) to (8) by the tutoring lecturers. In the assessment of practical (1) the suitability of the cartographic references collected in relation to the assumption, the correction in the indication of references and the formal presentation of the information will be assessed. In the assessment of practical (2) the correction in the photointerpretation of the elements required and the suitability of the level of detail to the working scale, the integration of all elements in one map, the correct representation, the cartographic design skills and the composition and final presentation of the map will be considered. In practicals (4) to (8), the synthesis of the results and their validity will be assessed.
Weighting: 24% of the final score of the Unit (cartography: 7%, GIS: 17%)

Assessment system 3: Global assessment of the results of the group work by the tutoring lecturers. Understanding of the methodology applied, the pertinence of the questionnaire elaborated and the criteria put forward in the joint discussion will be assessed. The score will be the same for all components of each group.
Weighting: 3.5% of the final score of the Unit



Theo ARENTZE, Technical Univ. Eindhoven (The Netherlands)
Brian BARRETT, Univ. College Cork (Ireland)
Fiona CAWKWELL, Univ. College Cork (Ireland)
Asunción JULIÁN, Univ. Zaragoza (Spain)
Eric MOLIN, Univ. of Technology, Delft (The Netherlands)
Raquel MONTORIO, Univ. Zaragoza (Spain)