GEOGRAPHY 8670: Cartographic Methods

Course Syllabus

Instructor: Michael P. Peterson


Durham Science Center 264

Office Hours:

MW 2-4; TTh 2-5:30 or by appt.




Web Page

Cartographic Methods is an applied graduate seminar in cartography and geospatial science. The course examines advanced methods for the representation of spatial data. Emphasis is placed on the design of interactive Internet-based maps. Projects will be directed toward the creation of map-based web pages. Topics include: 1) map critique; 2) JavaScript libraries including D3; 4) PHP on-the-fly mapping; 4) open source GIS (QGIS); 5) cloud applications.

1) Mapping in the Cloud book
Free account through or other webhosting service
3) A laptop or desktop computer
4) Readings are provided.


Discussions and Demonstrations

There is a great deal of information to cover in this course and relatively little time. It is in your best interest to...


I will be conveying information that may not be available in written form. It is critical that you pay attention to avoid missing out on key information. If you miss what I say, there is no way to get the information in another way.


This is a must! Remember, your classmates may or may not have thought of the question you asked, so asking questions will allow us all to learn. In short, ASK! ASK! ASK!

Take Notes

It is essential for you to take notes during lectures, presentations, and demonstrations in order for you to have an organized body of information you can refer to in the future. Please have the proper materials at hand for taking notes. 

Projects and Exercises

There will be several projects for this class. The class will meet as a group twice each week o look at the submitted homework. Additionally, you are expected to dedicate at least 9 hours outside of class each week to your homework.

Integration of Traditional Skills and Computer Skills

The implementation of final designs will focus on, but not be limited to, the computer and its output. Assignments will be due at the beginning of class on the date specified. There is no time for last minute changes. On that day we will hold critiques or discussions of the projects presented. Everyone is expected to participate and be part of the critiquing process!

Personal Conduct
I ask that you be considerate of others in class. Activities such as whispering, exchanging notes, using a computer, texting, talking on the phone, reading a newspaper, or leaving the classroom during class all disturb the people around you. Please consider that your classmates may take their college education more seriously than you do. If I see you engaged in these activities, I will ask you to stop. If you continue, I will ask you to leave. If this happens more than once, you can be removed from the course.

Final grades will be based equally upon the assignments as posted on your 1) web page, course participation and class discussion based on assignments; 2) class project/presentation; 3) a final project; and 4) final essay exam. Grading is carried through on the total points accumulated with 90%, 80%, 70% and 60% representing the approximate cut-offs between letter grades.


Class projects involve explaining a particular online mapping technique to others in class, and designing a project for others to complete. The project should help better explain the program/technique and result in a link that can be demonstrated in class.


The final project is to be published as a methods article for Cartographic Perspectives or other outlet.  This section includes descriptions of methods for achieving specific mapping tasks. A draft will be due mid-March for editing.


From Cartographic Perspectives, No. 71

From Cartographic Perspectives, No. 72

Hunt article