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Remote Sensing

Learn to see Earth in a whole new way using Earth Observation data collection and analysis skills.

A man examines a drone.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
1 Year
Graduate Certificate

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Remote sensing professionals map, measure, and monitor our earth using a range of sensors and cutting-edge technology. Using camera systems, laser scanners (LiDAR) and microwave sensors (RaDAR), they collect, analyze, and report on spatial data. This provides organizations with insights to help solve problems and support decision making in the environmental and natural resources sectors and beyond. 

In this graduate certificate program, you develop a foundation of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills that are enhanced by specialized training. Using industry standard software, you manipulate, analyze, and present data from spaceborne, airborne, and terrestrial systems.

Through practical hands-on projects that build on your foundational skills you learn how to:

  • Pilot Remotely Piloted Airborne Systems (RPAS) – drones – and utilize land-based Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) survey equipment to collect data.
  • Source available Earth observation (EO) data from government, industry, and research organizations.
  • Interpret and analyze LiDAR, RaDAR, multispectral, hyperspectral and thermal imagery.
  • Present 2D and 3D geospatial information in reports, plans, and digital or hard-copy maps
  • Apply geodesy, programming, and database fundamentals.
  • Integrate, manipulate and manage remotely sensed datasets in a GIS to uncover insights.

This program is offered at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS), Canada's largest geomatics-focused learning environment, and prepares you for a career in the global geomatics sector.

Choose NSCC

  • NSCC's Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) provides a focused approach to geomatics training. COGS has earned a strong reputation among employers and geomatics professionals for the quality of the programs, hands-on training and practical learning provided to students.
  • Small class sizes provide you with lots of opportunities for one-on-one interaction and support.
  • You use the most up-to-date equipment and software and get the hands-on training that makes COGS graduates the preferred choice of employers.
  • You are supported by expert faculty who bring strong industry connections and years of experience to the classroom.

Other info

  • Many employers in this industry require a current, official criminal record check as part of the hiring process. A conviction on your criminal record may impact your ability to secure employment.


Seats are available for domestic applicants only. International applicants will be waitlisted.

September 2023

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Annapolis Valley Campus/Online
Classes at COGS
Full time Blended Delivered through a combination of in-person and scheduled online classes. Seats available

Admission requirements

  • Diploma or undergraduate degree in a related field of study such as archaeology, geography, forestry, geology, resource management, urban planning, science, engineering, computer science, marketing, commerce, economics or business administration.

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2022-23 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional. 2023-24 tuition will be announced in the late Spring.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for college services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

The field of remote sensing has multiple applications in forestry, geology, defence/intelligence, disaster management, conservation, oceanography, meteorology, urban analysis and agriculture.

Working in both public and private sectors in North America and beyond, graduates are:

  • Operating airborne and terrestrial cameras and LiDAR systems
  • Piloting drones and processing imagery
  • Using imagery to monitor heath of agricultural crops, monitor environmental change
  • Developing tools for use in GIS
  • Tracking environmental changes for use in weather prediction
  • Helping natural resource companies find new sources of opportunities

Future study options

  • Take advantage of our joint masters program with Acadia University. Completion of the graduate certificate in Remote Sensing is the equivalent of year one in the Master of Science in Applied Geomatics.

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

BUGE 6017 - Advanced Location Analysis
This course introduces the learner to locational and network methods and techniques used in spatial analysis using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to address a broad range of business-related applications. Consideration will be given to the knowledge, skills and processes of system dynamics that impact where a facility should be located. The learner will investigate standard techniques and solution methods for many of the locational problems society faces today.

BUGE 6021 - Data Mining
Data mining (knowledge discovery) is a key computer technology for revealing hidden patterns and trends in databases. Data analytics or Big Data are closely related to data mining. Data mining consists of data preparation, visualization, analysis, verification, and deployment. Students use such data mining modelling techniques as decision trees or neural networks, etc. for prediction, clustering, or finding rules. Practical assignments include combining data mining tools with GIS technology for mapping results of analysis.

BUGE 6027 - Network Analysis
The course focuses on solving the most typical network-related real life problems using GIS. Learners perform such network analysis exercises as finding the closest facility, determining service areas, optimizing a tour, determining accessibility, or finding an optimal location for a new facility.

GEOM 4030 - Raster Modelling and Map Algebra
Learners are required to use the ArcMap Desktop Spatial Analyst to complete a number of analytical tasks involving multi-factored analysis for modelling using Dana Tomlin’s map algebra. Map Algebra can be embedded in Model Builder, within the Raster Calculator tool or embedded in various scripting languages such as Python.

GEOM 5005 - Geodesy, GNSS and Geosensors
This course exposes learners to basic concepts of geodesy, global navigation satellite systems and geosensors. The learner will be introduced to map projections, ellipsoids, datums, and datum transformations, and the theory required to plan, acquire, and process code based GNSS. Learners will also be introduced to geosensor technologies and applications and investigate the issues associated with handling the data.

GISY 5003 - Spatial Database Management
This course introduces learners to principles and techniques of relational database design, development, maintenance and use, including spatial database objects. Learners will gain a basic insight into database systems terminology and issues facing database managers and analysts.

GISY 5005 - Geographic Information Systems for Remote Sensing
This course introduces students to concepts related to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial data for Remote Sensing applications. The course provides students with the skills required to acquire, assemble, prepare and manage GIS data using modern, industry standard software packages. Geographic related questions are answered, and results presented using a variety of methods.

GISY 6020 - Advanced Geographic Information Systems
This course allows the learner to address a number of advanced issues in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology including ways to use various data models, programming techniques, and means to manage large data sets and builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in GIS and Spatial Data Analysis (GISY 5004). Topics include digital elevation modelling and 3D display, systems building, raster data modelling and image integration, object modelling, and large spatial database management. Custom applications will be developed utilizing a number of programming languages.

GISY 6026 - MapInfo Professional/Vertical Mapper
This software package provides a complete environment for user-friendly thematic mapping, extremely powerful SQL querying and many typical GIS operations. Learners will also learn how to use Vertical Mapper, a grid-based contouring, modelling and display system. Vertical Mapper runs from within MapInfo and brings the power of raster GIS into this package.

GISY 6028 - Investigating Technologies
This directed studies course provides learners an opportunity to benefit from market trends in the Geomatics industry. Developments, innovations, and advancements in GIS technology lead in many directions; this course responds to market forces and demands supplying learners with relevant material.

GISY 6043 - Spatial Analysis and Geostatistics
Spatial analysis includes evaluating spatial relationships, creating spatial clusters, identifying spatial patterns, and measuring geographic distributions. Geostatistics is a set of statistical techniques for interpolation and creating surfaces. Basic geostatistical components are exploratory spatial data analysis and structural analysis (calculation and modelling of the surface properties of nearby locations). Learners will develop skills for using geostatistical techniques and selecting the most appropriate spatial analysis tool for a given research project.

GISY 6044 - Applied Geomatics Research Project
The Applied Geomatics Research course is an opportunity for the learner to work in a project-oriented environment on an application of choice, compile required data sets (if necessary), use various software tools, complete the development/analysis of the project and fully document findings. The projects will include project definition, database definition, data collection, learning software, data manipulation, data analysis and presentation.

GISY 6060 - Geoprocessing and Modelling
The course focuses on using existing and creating new geoprocessing tools, building geoprocessing models and writing scripts. These tools are commonly used in the industry for increasing efficiency and functionality of geoprocessing workflows.

GISY 6160 - Independent Project in GIS
The Independent Project in GIS course is an opportunity for GIS learners to work in a project-oriented environment. This course option will require the full semester to allow enough time to understand the application of choice, compile required data sets (if necessary), learn the software tools required for the project, complete the development/analysis of the project and fully document the findings. Projects are often completed in conjunction with an outside contact and/or in association with one of the program faculty (including AGRG Research Associates). This is a great opportunity to better understand the research environment of the Applied Geomatics Research Group and the future options that are available to you. However, regardless of your interest in the AGRG, this is also a great opportunity to focus some of your time and effort on an application area of interest to you.

GISY 6400 - Capstone Project
This course requires independent research involving geospatial technologies with the learner customizing his/her learning around a topic of interest. The learner prepares a project proposal for approval by the faculty advisor. Upon approval, work begins on the chosen topic area, culminating with a final presentation and code/data delivery and potentially report and/or live demonstration. This course applies learning from first- and second-semester courses in a self-directed manner and can be taken individually or within groups.

PROG 5001 - Programming Fundamentals for Remote Sensing
This course is intended for those with minimal or no prior programming experience and exposes the learner to programming in various environments. Students develop object-based programming skills through basic assignments and progress toward Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing (GIS/RS) related data manipulation. Students apply programming theory to a range of tasks.

PROG 5060 - Object Oriented Programming for GIS I
This course introduces learners to the principles of object-oriented programming (OOP). Exploration starts with learning the syntax, program structure, and data types of an OOP language. The course includes comprehensive coverage of the key object-oriented concepts of encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism. Course projects involve many aspects of the software development life cycle, from algorithm design to software implementation and maintenance.

PROG 5075 - Web Programming for GIS
This course explores web mapping as a tool for accessing and analyzing spatial data. Learners will use client-side scripting and associated toolkits to develop web-based maps for multiple devices. Security issues will be explored using server-side scripting and associated databases. Projects include many aspects of website development, from design to administration.

PROG 6060 - Object Oriented Programming for GIS II
This course explores the development of mapping applications using an object-oriented programming language and principles. Programmers will customize existing mapping software, embed mapping functionality in other applications, and develop custom mapping applications.

REMS 5001 - Fundamentals of Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing
This course is an introduction to the concepts, principles and applications of remote sensing technology. The specification and use of airborne and space-borne imagery for the investigation of various earth resources and environmental monitoring will be discussed. Applied learning opportunities will be provided in the laboratory and field relating to the applications of remote sensing.

REMS 5010 - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Survey
In this course students plan and carry out Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) surveys to collect relevant, accurate remotely sensed data. Students plan, prepare and execute surveys to meet specific project requirements. Students also develop skills to assess the accuracy of data they have collected and coordinate all equipment requirements for data collection. This course involves fieldwork in order to set up surveys and collect data.

REMS 6022 - Remote Sensing Systems and Applications
This course covers the design, sensor specification, and utility of past, present and prospective airborne and spaceborne remote sensing systems that have earth resources observation and environmental monitoring as their primary objective. Students explore both active (radar) and passive (optical) systems. Students also discuss and investigate applications of digital data derived from these systems in various disciplines using digital image processing techniques.

REMS 6023 - Advanced Digital Image Processing
The Advanced Digital Image Processing course allows students to apply basic introductory skills including radiometric and geometric correction, image enhancement, image classification and data integration learned in previous courses. This course consists of laboratory and classroom instruction, and encourages students to approach remote sensing challenges with a logical and real-world approach. Advanced concepts covered may include: orthorectification, mosaic, colour space transformations, aerial photo orthorectification, digital elevation modelling, three-dimensional visualizations, and advanced enhancement techniques.

REMS 6055 - Softcopy Photogrammetry
This course provides an introduction to softcopy photogrammetry and its application to wide area mapping. Learners will build on their knowledge of aerial photography and expand their image processing skills to include industry-practiced photogrammetric workflows such as flight planning, aerial triangulation, ortho-rectification and Digital Elevation Model (DEM) production.

REMS 6066 - Digital Aerial Photography
This course provides the learner the opportunity to gain knowledge of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) technology as it applies to the acquisition and processing of digital aerial photography. Topics include IMU/GNSS hardware and software, flight planning, camera calibration, aerial triangulation, ortho-rectification and mosaicking.

REMS 6091 - LiDAR Operations and Applications
This course exposes students to the end-to-end project workflows commonly performed during airborne and terrestrial laser scanning using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. Students become familiar with the use of airborne and terrestrial LiDAR in survey applications through examination of theory, project planning, application in fieldwork, and data processing. Students also explore other common applications of LiDAR.

REMS 6100 - Airborne Survey
This course introduces students to the planning, collection, processing and validation of airborne remotely sensed electro-optical datasets. The remote sensing industry uses different platforms and sensors for various applications sharing similar concepts, methods of planning, collection, processing and validation. Once a remote sensing professional has identified the appropriate platforms and sensors and understood their capabilities, they can use a similar approach to the data collected.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

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