Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Monitoring our Planet's Health from Space
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2,500 word Essay - based on computer-based data analysis  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written Exam (2 hours)  50%
Supplementary Assessment 2,500 word Essay - based on computer-based data analysis  Resubmission of failed coursework components.  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Written Exam (2 hours)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Understand how Earth Observation is used to assess the health of our planet.

Demonstrate an understanding of how different modalities of Earth Observation systems are used to address specific environmental challenges.

Critical awareness of the quality of Earth Observation products and their implications for answering real-world problems.

Ability to analyse Earth Observation datasets and products within a GIS environment to solve real-world problems.

Brief description

The module is designed to provide students with an introduction to Earth Observation and how it can be used to assess the health of our planet. Our planet is highly dynamic but to understand the nature of these changes and the implications of these changes, we need to be able to map and monitor large areas through time. Earth Observation technologies, such as imaging satellites, are a vital technology for making this possible and represent an expanding job market as businesses and governments understand its importance. This module will provide hands-on experience in the use of satellite imagery, and its mapped products, for addressing globally significant environmental challenges such as flood hazards, deforestation, wildfires and disease risk. In doing so, students will learn key skills that are in demand in today's job market.


The module is taught through 10 lectures (2 hours) and 7 practical sessions (2 hours), providing a total of 34 hours of contact time. The course will focus on several key topic areas related to the health of our planet and its inhabitants. Topic areas may vary from year to year to reflect the significant World events (e.g. significant wildfire or flood events) or 'hot-topics' at the Global stage (e.g. reducing emissions from deforestation), often reflecting the research activities of the teaching staff. In doing so, the module will remain relevant and up-to-date helping to enhance the student experience. Using these topics and applications as a vehicle, students will learn key concepts that underpin satellite Earth Observation (e.g., the difference between optical multi-spectral, radar and lidar sensors and systems) and data processing techniques, such as image classification, equipping students with knowledge and skills that are in demand in today's job market.

Example topics that may be covered:

1. Deforestation and Land cover change
2. Above-ground biomass estimation
3. Water resource management
4. Flood risk mapping
5. Mapping of Malaria habitats
6. Wildfires mapping
7. Desertification and the impacts of drought
8. Plant health and condition mapping (e.g., disease mapping)
9. Wetland extent and condition
10. Assessing changes in coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves.
11. Glacial change
12. Surface Radiation Budget (e.g., Albedo of ice sheets)

The week-by-week module structure:

Week 1: Introduction to EO for assessing planetary health
Week 2: Application 1 (Part 1): Lecture and Practical
Week 3: Application 1 (Part 2): Lecture and Practical
Week 4: Application 2 (Part 1): Lecture and Practical
Week 5: Application 2 (Part 2): Lecture and Practical
Week 6: Application 3 (Part 1): Lecture and Practical
Week 7: Application 3 (Part 2): Lecture and Practical
Week 8: Application 4: Lecture (Practical will be an assignment help session)
Week 9: Application 5: Lecture
Week10: Revision Lecture

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Understanding and appropriately using the spatial datasets such as GIS layers and satellite imagery requires the application of mathematics.
Communication Presentation of data analysis results and interpretation through a written report.
Improving own Learning and Performance The computer based practicals go alongside the assignment where the students are working and improving their data analysis week by week and contributing to the knowledge required for their assignment.
Information Technology The assignment and practicals are reliant on the application of image processing and GIS software to aid the interpretation of satellite imagery and GIS data layers.
Personal Development and Career planning Knowledge of careers in remote sensing, earth observation and GIS is specifically covered
Problem solving Computer-based interpretation of spatial data, including satellite imagery and GIS datasets.
Research skills Review of up-to-date literature relating to spatial data process for applications in planetary health.
Subject Specific Skills Specific skills in interpretation satellite imagery for environmental applications.


This module is at CQFW Level 6