Study Resources

The Department of Geography has various study resources and facilities that are available to all undergraduate students to supplement their studies and coursework.

Computer Labs

The Department of Geography has 2 computer labs that students can access to complete assignments in Geography courses requiring specialized software, such as GIS, Cartography, Remote Sensing, and Statistics.

Computer Lab Location
Rooms 115 & 239 in the Geography Building

Lab Hours
Due to COVID-19 safety regulations the Geography building remains closed. Computer labs are accessible 24/7 through remote login. Check your Canvas course for instructions on how to connect to them.

Lab Assistance
For assistance outside of scheduled lab/tutorial sessions/TA office hours, you can request help from the lab supervisor:

Jose Aparicio
Office: Geography Building Room 240 D
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9:15 AM – 5:15 PM
Phone: 604-822-2341
E-mail: labhelp@geog.ubc.ca

Room 115 contains 25 PCs, while room 239 has 20 PCs. Station 1 in lab 115 has higher desk clearance to accommodate a wheelchair. All the labs have identical software packages;

  • ESRI ArcGIS
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Harris ENVI
  • FME Desktop
  • Mathworks Matlab
  • R Statistical package
  • Microsoft Office

Both labs are connected through a network, so you can access software, data, and printing from any of the labs.

The labs have restricted access. Only students enrolled in geography courses that require lab use can receive an account. These courses are usually Geography techniques courses, selected atmospheric science courses, or directed studies.

Students must pay a $20 lab fee per term, not per course. Once paid, students will receive a username and password to access the computer labs. You can pay the lab fee at the Geography Main Office, Room 217, between 10 AM and 2 PM. Or, you can pay online here. The fee counts as tuition and is therefore eligible for a tax receipt which will be printed at the moment of payment. The lab fee is due by the last Friday of the first month of each term.

NOTE: Due to COVID-19 safety rules the lab printing resources are not available until further notice.

Each student using the labs has a printing account associated with their username. The initial balance starts at $0. You can add printing credits at the Department’s Main Office. Any positive balance in the printing account can be refunded at the end of the semester.

There are two printer areas for the computer labs:

Room 115 printers:

  • Black and White laser (printer name: hp4015 b/w ps)
  • Colour laser (printer name: hp4650c colour ps)

Room 239 printers:

  • Black and White laser (printer name: hp4250n b/w ps)
  • Colour laser (printer name: hp4525n colour ps)

You can access all printers from any of the labs. Be careful when selecting the printer to which you are directing the output. You will need to add printing credits to your account before you start. The cost per page is:

  • $0.10 per page for black and white
  • $0.40 per page for colour

It is important that you spend time familiarizing yourself with proper saving techniques to avoid the pain of lost assignments. Each computer in the labs has a local hard drive, usually named Local Disk (C:) drive, where you will find your working directory called temp. In addition, because all the stations are connected through a network, you also have access to a server drive, called username on ‘smew server ’(H:), commonly referred to as the H: drive. Each user account has a designated space in the H drive that can only be seen by that user.

When working on your labs, these are the guidelines you should follow:

  • Download the data for you lab to the working directory C:\temp\ in the local computer
  • Work and save to your local working directory as you work through your assignment
  • After you are done with your session, but before you log off, copy your work from the C:\temp\ working directory to the server H drive using windows explorer
  • Once your confident all files have been copied, log off from your station

Please do not save to ‘My Documents”, “Desktop”, or “Downloads”. These folders are deleted every time you log off. They can also present problems when used to store GIS data.

Please read your lab instructions carefully as they will have detailed instructions on how to retrieve the lab data for each assignment.

If you are looking for access to ArcGIS Software on weekends or statistical packages like SPSS, you can visit the computer labs in Koerner library, in room 217.

If you are looking for Adobe Suite products (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator), Chapman Learning Commons in the Barber Learning Centre has Mac Multimedia workstations with the software suite installed.

Geospatial Data

Geospatial datasets are what drives analyses in Cartography, GIS, and Remote Sensing. Finding the correct sources is often the most resource-consuming activity in spatial analysis projects. Here are a few resources to help you find the right data.

The Data Services division of the UBC library system is the data repository for the social Sciences. There, you can find qualitative and quantitative data in the form of reports, geospatial layers for GIS among other formats. Many of our datasets originated from here.

Many of the geospatial datasets can be quite large. Make sure to check with your TA or the lab supervisor before downloading.

UBC Library has produced a series of research guides to help you navigate the system and get you on your way. One such guide contains information about GIS and a list of data sources at different levels (city, provincial, national, world).

There is also information about GIS labs in Koerner Library, where/how to obtain ArcGIS for your computer, and also a link to Open Source GIS information.

This site allows those to learn more about campus-wide geospatial technology and resources. The Software tab explains how to obtain a student/researcher copy of ArcGIS for personal use. Keep in mind that ArcGIS is a Windows product. If you want to install it on a Mac, you will have to use Bootcamp or Parallels software to create a second partition on your Mac where you can install Windows.

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