Course Outline

GEO301 Mapping with Drones

Course Coordinator:Javier Leon Patino ( School:School of Science, Technology and Engineering

2022Semester 1

USC Sunshine Coast

USC Moreton Bay

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.


Online You can do this course without coming onto campus.

Please go to the USC website for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


This course will introduce you to the application of drones as mapping platforms for environmental applications. You will learn about the basics of aerodynamics, flight navigation systems, legislation, data analysis and have hands-on practical experience flying small drones (< 2 kg). The emphasis of the course is on employing rigorous science for processing imagery acquired with drones and deriving and visualising a range of 3D mapping products.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – Synchronous and scheduled face to face tutorials 2hrs Week 1 3 times
Fieldwork – Face to face fieldwork 4hrs Week 9 2 times
Learning materials – Asynchronous online delivery of learning material 1hr Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 2 – Synchronous and scheduled face to face computer Workshops 2hrs Week 3 8 times
Learning materials – Asynchronous online delivery of learning 1hr Week 1 13 times
Online – Asynchronous online delivery (computer exercises) 2hrs Week 2 8 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – Synchronous and scheduled online tutorial wks 1, 12 and 13. 2hrs Week 1 3 times
Fieldwork – Online Fieldwork activities 4hrs Week 8 Once Only

Course Topics

• Drone platforms and navigation systems

• Drone regulations

• Mapping and monitoring drone applications for environmental science and management

• 3D photogrammetry and Structure from Motion algorithms

• Planning mapping missions

• 3D visualisation

What level is this course?

300 Level (Graduate)

Demonstrating coherence and breadth or depth of knowledge and skills. Independent application of knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts. Meeting professional requirements and AQF descriptors for the degree. May require pre-requisites where discipline specific introductory or developing knowledge or skills is necessary. Normally undertaken in the third or fourth full-time study year of an undergraduate program.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Mapping Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming... Professional Standard Mapping * Australian Learning & Teaching Council
1 Explain fundamental concepts about using drones as platforms for mapping the environment Knowledgeable
1, 2
2 Design, use and evaluate different approaches to field data collection methods and interpret and analyse data collected with drones Creative and critical thinker
3, 5
3 Search, select and critically review relevant academic information and communicate findings orally and/or writing Creative and critical thinker
3, 6, 7

* Competencies by Professional Body

Australian Learning & Teaching Council
1 Knowing: Demonstrate a coherent geographical understanding of trends, processes and impacts that shape Australian and other environments and/or societies at different spatial and temporal scales.
2 Knowing: Demonstrate an understanding of Geography as an academic discipline, including awareness of its concepts, history and principal subfields, whilst acknowledging the contested, provisional and situated nature of geographical understanding.
3 Thinking: Apply geographical thought creatively, critically and appropriately to specific spaces, places and/or environments.
5 Investigating and problem solving: Resolve geographical questions by ethical means, applying evidence-based knowledge and appropriate research techniques, including those associated with field work.
6 Communicating: Communicate geographical perspectives and knowledge effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences using appropriately selected written, oral and visual means.
7 Self-directing and collaborating: Contribute effectively as a member or leader of diverse teams working in geographical or multidisciplinary contexts

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the USC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


GEO100 or ENS253


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

GIS and remote sensing

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Early feedback on the structure for Assessment product Task 2 2 report will be given during week 4. 

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Quiz/zes Individual 15%
During computer workshop
Refer to Format Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 2 Report Individual 45%
2000 words
Week 7 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3 Oral and Written Piece Group 40%
2,000 words and 10 minutes per group
Refer to Format Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check and in class
All - Assessment Task 1:Computer workshop quizzes
To develop your theoretical and practical skills in using drones for mapping applications
Product: Quiz/zes
During weeks 2, 3, 4 and 5 you will be provided with data and exercises. At the end of the computer workshop you will complete a quiz/short technical report and submit via Turnitin.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Depth of understanding about principles of flying
Depth of understanding about flying legislation
Interpretation and analysis of data collected with drones.
All - Assessment Task 2:Technical report
To identify, interpret and communicate key concepts about mapping the environment with drones and to analyse and report drone-derived data.
Product: Report
The report should synthesise and communicate results derived from computer workshops in a clear and concise writing style. The length should be a maximum of 2000 words and the structure should follow a conventional scientific report template.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Explain key concepts about mapping with drones and provide supportive evidence from appropriate literature (relevant, current, credible)
1 3
Demonstrate skills in data analysis and presentation of results
Structure, clarity and style of the written assignment
All - Assessment Task 3:Field trip report
To present the methodology and results obtained from fieldwork, including the analysis and discussion of data/evidence collected and conclusions derived from the results
Product: Oral and Written Piece
A concise scientific report based on data collected by each group. The written report is due Week 12 and should be around 2,000 words and written in the style of a manuscript for publication in the peer-reviewed literature, including a reference list, as well as tables and illustrations, as needed. Each group will also present their main findings as an oral presentation, which will include a 3D visualisation of results during weeks 12 and 13.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Application of theoretical and practical knowledge.
Use of measuring methods and tools to collect data and produce 3D products and classified maps.
Accurate interpretation and analysis of data
Critical analysis of advantages and limitations of applied methods
Communication, both orally and in structured writing, to informed audiences in a field report, using supporting scholarly sources and data
Demonstration of collaboration and working well in a group.
Quality of presentation, grammar and spelling

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Directed study hours may vary by location. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

Please note that you need to have regular access to the resource(s) listed below. Resources may be required or recommended.

Required? Author Year Title Edition Publisher
Recommended Sharma, J. B. 2019 Applications of small unmanned aircraft systems : best practices and case studies n/a Boca Raton, Florida : CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group
Recommended Jonathan Carrivick,Mark Smith,Duncan Quincey 2016 Structure from Motion in the Geosciences n/a Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated

Specific requirements

Access to a Windows-based computer for running software. 

Field work is a significant component for this course. You will be required to undertake field work, where you will need to wear covered footwear, hat, long-sleeved shirt and long trousers for field safety. Detailed time, location and potential costs will be set out at the beginning of the semester. Discuss any financial hardship that might be associated with the field studies with the Course Coordinator.

How are risks managed in this course?

Risk assessments have been performed for all field activities and low to moderate levels of health and safety risk exists. Moderate risks may include working in an Australian bush setting, working with people, working outside normal office hours for example. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Eligibility for Supplementary Assessment

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


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Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

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To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

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