• Wednesday 5:30pm – 8:00pm, Gladfelter 310 – Remote on 1/12, 1/19 (link provided in Canvas)

Instructor Info:

  • Amanda Kmetz
  • Office Hours Tuesday 12-1pm (via Zoom; link provided in Canvas) and by appointment

General Information

Course Overview

Building on previous coursework with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), students will learn computer programming in a GIS environment. Students will design and execute spatial data management and spatial analysis projects using automated geoprocessing functions available in the built-in scripting languages of prominent GIS software packages, with an emphasis on the Python programming language. Students will learn programming concepts such as variable typing, function definition, conditional evaluation, looping, and object-oriented programming. The course will also introduce geospatial programming strategies independent of any specific GIS software.

Python has rapidly become the de facto standard for scientific computing. It is also the scripting language used by two prominent GIS packages, ArcGIS (proprietary) and QGIS (open source). There is also an extensive and growing ecosystem of Python packages for geospatial analysis. The course will begin by focusing on using Python and ArcPy for ArcGIS scripting and automation, while also introducing fundamental concepts in programming, using the textbook Python for ArcGIS. We will also make use of DataCamp interactive tutorials to learn Python syntax and reinforce these fundamental concepts. This part of the course will feature weekly exercises and quizzes on these basic concepts.

The latter part of the course will introduce Python geospatial programming outside of the ArcGIS environment. In this part of the course, students will present tutorials on further topics in Python and ArcPy.


  • Fundamentals of GIS (GUS 5062) with B- or better, or equivalent.
  • A laptop on which you can install software and data


This course meets once a week. Missing any class meetings will hamper your ability to complete the work in this course. Your attendance percentage will also indicate the maximum final grade you can earn in this course. If you miss 3 classes, you have attended 78.6% of class meetings. Accordingly, your final grade will not be higher than a C+, regardless of any other work completed. Please see my attendance policy at my Temple web page:

In addition, we will hit the ground running and you must come prepared to work in class. I will let you know ahead of time about assignments that are required class preparation. Not completing them prior to class time will be treated as an absence.

Course Materials

Readings and exercises will be assigned from:

  • Python for ArcGIS – When accessed on campus or through the Temple Library proxy server (Python for ArcGIS via proxy), you will be able to download this textbook in its entirety for free. You are also REQUIRED to obtain a print copy. The Springer “MyCopy” service is a print-on-demand service which will allow you to order a softcover copy for $24.99. You must be accessing SpringerLink on campus or log in through the Temple Library proxy server to get access to the MyCopy print-on-demand service.

Online exercises will be assigned from DataCamp:

Additional resources:

Other resources for GIS scripting:



Each week during the first half of the course, exercises will be assigned from the textbook. The first handful are structured as practice quizzes (no points) in Canvas. Subsequent exercises involve modifying or creating short Python scripts. One question each week will be evaluated and bonus points awarded in the quizzes track for correct answers. The exercises must be submitted on time. Answers will be posted to Canvas, so that you can check your work on questions that were not evaluated. We will review some of the exercises at the beginning of the class after the due date.

Programming Quizzes

Beginning during the third week of class, each week will have one short, graded programming quiz. The topic will be based on the lecture and reading from two weeks prior. The difficulty level should be comparable to or easier than the take-home exercise, so if you complete the exercise, are present for in-class review, and review the problem and answer afterwards, you should be well-prepared for the quiz.

The quizzes will be taken remotely in Canvas. You will have 25 minutes to complete the quiz.

The quizzes are cumulative. You will not be allowed to progress to the Quiz 2 if you do not pass Quiz 1. If you do not pass a quiz, you may retake it in the following week. You may not retake the quiz during the same week, so that you have time to review the material and prepare for the retake. However, when you complete a previously failed quiz, you will be allowed to move on to the next quiz in the sequence without waiting.


This course will make use of online exercises provided by DataCamp. You must use your Temple email address to register for a premium account (free using a link provided by the instructor). You will be required to complete three assigned DataCamp courses, and one additional one of your choosing.

The three required courses are broken up by chapter in Canvas, so that, for example, it is suggested that you complete “Ch 4 Loops” from the DataCamp Intermediate Python for Data Science course when we are reading “Ch 10 Repetition: Looping for Geoprocessing” and “Ch 11 Batch Geoprocessing” in the textbook. In some cases that means that DataCamp chapters are assigned out of order. Since the only thing you turn in is the course completion certificate, you may choose to progress through the course in the DataCamp order, as long as you complete all chapters on time.

  • You are required to complete the following courses:
  • Introduction to Python due during Module 3 – ArcPy Tools.
  • Ch 1 – Python Basics should be completed during Module 1 – Python Basics
  • Ch 2 – Python Lists should be completed during Module 2 – Lists and Tuples
  • The remaining two chapters must be completed during Module 3 – ArcPy Tools
  • Intermediate Python due during Module 6 – Dictionaries
  • Ch 3 – Logic, Control Flow and Filtering should be completed during Module 4 – Control Flow, Conditionals
  • Ch 4 – Loops should be completed during Module 5 – Loops
  • The remaining three chapters must be completed during Module 6 – Dictionaries
  • Python Data Science Toolbox (Part 1) due during Module 8 – Error Handling
  • Ch 1 Writing your own functions and Ch 2 Default arguments, variable-length arguments and scope should be completed during Module 7 – User-Defined Functions
  • The remaining one chapter must be completed during Module 8 – Error Handling
  • You will complete one additional DataCamp Python course of the your choosing. Suggested courses include:
  • Python Data Science Toolbox (Part 2)
  • Data Manipulation with Pandas
  • Working with Geospatial Data in Python
  • Data Types for Data Science
  • Network Analysis in Python
  • You will have premium access to DataCamp courses for six months. You may choose to complete any additional courses you want to throughout the semester, and for a few weeks beyond the end of the semester.
  • Students who have previously used DataCamp and already completed the three required courses (the completion date on your DataCamp certificate is prior to this semester) should either retake the course if they feel they need a refresher or select another DataCamp Python course to do instead. Please ask me if you have any questions.

Python Package Tutorials

During the second half of the course we will tour the wide variety of Python packages for data and geospatial analysis. We will discuss packages of interest in class, and two to three students will plan a package presentation and class tutorial.

Programming Assignments

The exact content will be determined, but these will be two to three short programming assignments, and possibly a longer, term-end assignment, that will build on material learned in the exercises.


You will earn points along several tracks. Each track is worth up to 100 points. Your must progress along ALL tracks to be successful in this course. Your final grade is the based on the lowest score earned along any track.

0-100 points. Your attendance score is a straight percentage of class sessions you are present for.
Programming Quizzes (8)
41 + 10 points each for quizzes 1 through 5, and 3 points each for quizzes 6 through 8.
Exercises (9)
0 points for exercises from Chapter 2, 3, and 4, which are structured as practice quizzes.
1 bonus point each (6 total) added to the Programming Quizzes track for exercises from Chapter 5 on.
DataCamp (4)
60 + 10 points for each course completed fully. Courses must be completed on time. 1 point will be deducted for each day late, to a minimum of 5 points for courses completed 5 or more days late. The date on the certificate of completion will be used so that you are not penalized if you complete the course on time but forget to submit the certificate.
Python Package Tutorial
70-100 points. The tutorial will be awarded up to 30 points based on requirements announced separately. Since each tutorial will happen on a specifically scheduled day, this assignment cannot be revised for a higher grade.
Programming Assignments (3)
69 + 10 points for each assignment.


Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss the specific situation as soon as possible. Contact Disability Resources and Services at 215-204-1280 in 100 Ritter Annex to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Academic Honesty

All submitted work should be your own.

Classroom Environment

All persons participating in the course should be respectful of other students and the instructor in order to facilitate a civil learning environment. All persons participating in the course have a right to expect respectful treatment in the classroom.

Statement on Academic Freedom

Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The University has adopted a policy on Student and Faculty Academic Rights and Responsibilities (Policy # 03.70.02).

Temple and COVID-19

Temple University’s motto is Perseverance Conquers, and we will meet the challenges of the COVID pandemic with flexibility and resilience. The university has made plans for multiple eventualities. Working together as a community to deliver a meaningful learning experience is a responsibility we all share: we’re in this together so we can be together.

How This Course Will Be Taught

This course meets online synchronously via Zoom for the first two weeks of the semester.  Zoom links for classes are provided in Canvas.  The remaining classes will be held in person at the time and place indicated above.

During the latter part of the semester, student teams will be presenting tutorials. We may run these tutorials as remote sessions, even if campus is open.

This course has no final exam.

Attendance Protocol and Your Health

To achieve course learning goals, students must attend and participate in classes, according to your instructors’ requirements. However, if you feel unwell or if you are under quarantine or in isolation because you have been exposed to the virus or tested positive for it, you should not come to campus or attend in-person classes or activities. It is the student’s responsibility to contact their instructors to create a plan for participation and engagement in the course as soon as they are able to do so, and to make a plan to complete all assignments in a timely fashion, when illness delays their completion.

Student Support Services

If you are experiencing food insecurity or financial struggles, Temple provides resources and support. Notably, the Temple University Cherry Pantry and the Temple University Emergency Student Aid Program are in operation as well as a variety of resources from the Office of Student Affairs.

Technology specifications for this course

Limited resources are available for students who do not have the technology they need for class. Students with educational technology needs, including no computer or camera or insufficient Wifi-access, should submit a Student Technology Assistance Application located in TUPortal and linked from the Dean of Students Support and Resources webpage. The university will endeavor to meet needs, such as with a long-term loan of a laptop or Mifi device, a refurbished computer, or subsidized internet access. Internet Essentials from Comcast provides the option to purchase a computer for $150 and high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month, plus tax. The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is available to purchase Xfinity, Verizon, T-Mobile, and other internet services. Qualified households can receive a temporary monthly credit of up to $50/month toward their Internet service and leased Internet equipment until the program’s funding runs out.

On-campus computer labs have resumed normal operations and are available for student use.

Note that there are technology resources available for students, including some software that is available for free download and other specialty software that may be available for remote access through ITS.

Remote Proctoring Statement

Zoom, Proctorio or a similar proctoring tool may be used to proctor exams and quizzes in this course. These tools verify your identity and record online actions and surroundings. It is the learner’s responsibility to have the necessary government or school issued ID, a laptop or desktop computer with a reliable internet connection, the Google Chrome and Proctorio extension, a webcam/built-in camera and microphone, and system requirements for using Proctorio, Zoom, or a similar proctoring tool.

Statement on Recording of Class Sessions

Class sessions may not be recorded, whether in person or remote, except in cases of an approved accommodation from the Office of Disability Resources (DRS).

Expectations for Class Conduct

The best way to maintain a safe and focused learning environment is for everyone to get vaccinated. Masks must be worn by vaccinated and unvaccinated people in all indoor or in enclosed spaces (including classrooms, the Library, the TECH Center, the Student Center, shuttles/buses, administrative spaces, common areas in residence halls, etc.). For your general health and well-being, hand washing and monitoring your health is still highly recommended.

It is also important to foster a respectful and productive learning environment that includes all students in our diverse community of learners. Our differences, some of which are outlined in the University’s nondiscrimination statement, will add richness to this learning experience. Therefore, all opinions and experiences, no matter how different or controversial they may be perceived, must be respected in the tolerant spirit of academic discourse.

Treat your classmates and instructor with respect in all communication, class activities, and meetings. You are encouraged to comment, question, or critique an idea but you are not to attack an individual. Please consider that sarcasm, humor and slang can be misconstrued in online interactions and generate unintended disruptions. Profanity should be avoided as should the use of all capital letters when composing responses in discussion threads, which can be construed as “shouting” online. Remember to be careful with your own and others’ privacy. In general, have your behavior mirror how you would like to be treated by others.


Please bear in mind that COVID-19 may result in a need for new or additional accommodations. Students should seek out assistance from DRS.