This course will be given by Prof Christien Thiart, Emeritus Professor at UCT and Founding Member of AEON. Prof Thiart wishes to show you, as participating student, the magic of quantitative thinking.  To provide enough encouragement and background information/training so that you can (i) think quantitive (ii) connect the techniques to your own data (iii) think spatial (near things are connected to each other) (iv) be able to critically read scientific articles in terms of their methodology, results, and interpretation. Below is a rough outline of the course.

A:  Introduction to Spatial data from a GIS perspective

  • Making the leap from independent data to dependent data (Spatial)
  • Introduction to vector data – polygons, lines, points
  • Grid or lattice data
  • Spatial joins, Spatial operations
  • Database: structure and how to query them. Concept of metadata.
  • Superficial introduction to spatial analysis
  • Making a map – visualization

B: Geostatistics – spatial modelling

  • Exploring tools for Spatial data
  • Discussing various interpolation techniques when and where to use them. This would include
  • Inverse distance interpolation
  • Splines
  • Polynomials (local and global)
  • Kriging
  • Regression kriging

Other discussion themes:

  • Weight of Evidence
  • Optimal sampling strategies

Software used for instructions:  ArcGIS and R.


  1. Hengl, T. 2009. A Practical Guide to Geostatistical Mapping, 2nd Edt. University of Amsterdam.
  1. Spatial notes – Christien Thiart
  2. For more advance users: Schapenberger O. and Pierce F.J. Contemporary Statistical Models for the Plant and Soil Sciences.   (Chapter 9)