GEOL-1460/2461
Remote Sensing Syllabus
Fall, 2019


  GEOL-1460: Prof. Michael Ramsey
Office: 509/511 SRCC
Office Phone: 624-8772
Email: mramsey@pitt.edu
Office Hours: M, W (1:30 - 2:30pm)
GEOL-2461: Dr. Daniel Williams
Office: 509/510 SRCC
Office Phone: 628-8784
Email: dbwilliams@pitt.edu
Office Hours: M, Tu (10:00 - 11:00am)
T.A./Lab Instructor: Ian Flynn
Office: 211 Thaw
Office Phone: 624-8779
Email: itf2@pitt.edu
Office Hours: Th (1:00 - 3:00pm)

  1. Objective: This course provides a foundation in the theory and techniques of remote sensing and geospatial data visualization spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from the visible to the microwave wavelengths. Topics include light/matter interaction, optics and sensor design, image analysis using the commercial ENVI software suite, as well as current applications of remote sensing to science and engineering problems. The course and integrated laboratory are designed to provide the student with a skillset in remote sensing applications, the geologic and human processes revealed in remotely-gathered data, as well as how those processes are assessed with these data.


  2. Required Text: "Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth Resource Perspective", 2nd edition, by: J.R. Jensen (Prentice Hall Publishing; 2007, ISBN: 0-13-188950-8).

    Supplementary Text: "Remote Sensing: Principles and Interpretation" 3rd edition, by: F. F. Sabins (W. H. Freeman & Co.; 2007, ISBN: 978-1-577-66507-6).

  3. Supplementary Text: "Computer Processing of Remotely-Sensed Images" 4th edition, by: P.M. Mather and M. Koch (Wiley-Blackwell; 2011, ISBN: 978-0-470-74239-6), [e-book].

    The first two textbooks are old, so there should be plenty of inexpensive/used options out there. It is recommended that you have your own copies for exam preparation and laboratory projects. However, all three are available on two-hour loan at the Engineering Library. The third text is also available as an e-book (use the link above).


  4. GEOL-1460 Lecture Time: Wednesday from 6:00pm - 8:50pm in Thaw 11 (lecture) & SRCC 207 (computer labs). Attendance is mandatory for all scheduled class and laboratory meetings. Much of the exam material and laboratory insights will be derived from the class notes and therefore attendance will help your grade (even though I post the notes online). The three computer labs (plus a pre-lab) will meet during the regular class meeting times (see schedule). During those weeks there will be no lecture and students will meet in the computer laboratory following an assigned schedule. There may also be times during the semester where I will not be here due to research-related travel. These are usually during the weeks of the labs and/or exams. If one of these occurs on a regularly-scheduled lecture night, the TA or a Dr. Williams will cover those weeks/classes.


  5. GEOL-2461 Seminar Time: T.B.D. Students taking this course are expected to come to the first lecture of the GEOL-1460 course and will then be informed of the seminar requirements and expectations by Dr. Daniel Williams.


  6. Course Requirements:

    1. Exams:

      There will be two exams (one mid-term and one final) with equal weighting. The exams may include essay questions, quantitative problem solving, short answers, and multiple choice. Exam questions will be based on material covered in the lectures and textbook and will not be cumulative. I do not give make-up exams or work, so please make sure you are there for both of those weeks!

    1. Image-processing Laboratories:

      There will be three graded labs in addition to one non-graded prelab. These labs will meet in SRCC room 207 during the class meeting time. However, the lab exercises will likely take longer than the scheduled meeting time. Extended laboratory hours may be offered by the TA. In addition, the large class size requires that the laboratory meetings are broken into smaller lab groups. More details given in the first lecture. The TA will decide on a grading policy for late lab reports. You will lose significant points if your lab is more than 1 week late! He will also create a guide to writing your lab reports. That will be posted here before lab #1.

    1. Graduate-level Course:

      The GEOL-2461 course is established for graduate students or, in special circumstances, undergraduate students who have prior experience and/or require graduate-level course credit. The course will be overseen by Dr. Daniel Williams. Anyone registering for this course needs the permission of the instructors and has two options for credit:

      • course + seminar + small project: students who have never taken a remote sensing course in the past should choose this option. You will be expected to attend a weekly seminar (Time/Date/Location T.B.A.) with Dr. Williams as well as the course lectures/labs and take the exams. Students will also work on a small remote sensing research project (alone or as part of a small group) and present the results to the class at the end of the semester together with 4-page written report.

      • seminar + large research project: students who have had a remote sensing course in the past (particularly this class taken as an undergraduate) should take this option. You will attend the weekly seminar (Time/Date/Location T.B.A.) with Dr. Williams. You are, of course, welcome to sit-in on any of the course lectures and labs as a review/refresher if needed. Your grade, therefore, will be based solely on your seminar participation and a large, in-depth, independent research project using remote sensing data. The results will be presented at the end of the semester to the class together with a 12-page written report.


  7. Grading: Grading for the 1460-level course will be based on both exams, the laboratories and class participation, with the exact breakdown being:

  8. Mid-term exam 30%
    Final exam 30%
    Laboratory #1 5%
    Laboratory #2 10%
    Laboratory #3 15%
    Class participation 10%


  9. Cheating: This is not even worth bringing up in a university-level course. Cheating/plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students suspected of violating the University of Pittsburgh Policy on Academic Integrity will be required to participate in the outlined procedural process as initiated by the instructor. A minimum sanction of a zero score for the quiz, exam or paper will be imposed. No excuses.


  10. Other Policies and Resources: Can be found here.


  11. Other Remote Sensing Talks of Interest: The Geology Department Fall Colloquium Series has several speakers who will talk about remote sensing and how it is used in their research. Attending these talks will certainly help you understand some of the topics discussed in the class and how remote sensing is applied to Earth and Planetary Science questions. More information can be found here.


  12. Course Web Site: The primary information portal for this course is this webpage: http://ivis.eps.pitt.edu/courses/geol1460/. It contains the syllabus, schedule, online notes, announcements, and assignments for the class. I tend to continually revise the class schedule as the semester progresses, so please check there for the most current class information.


  13. Web Links:



This page last updated: Saturday, 07-Sep-2019 18:01:05 EDT