Bayes Centre

Earth Observation for Sustainable Development Goals

This online credit-bearing course is an introduction to Earth observation for beginners and non-technical people. The primary aim is to provide students with a well-grounded understanding of the important insights provided by satellite observations with an emphasis on how this data can be used to monitor or evaluate progress on sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Course Summary

This course examines how satellite data of the Earth can be used in the context of Sustainable Development Goals, and the easy-to-access tools that can be used to apply such data to practical SDG issues (such as monitoring and reporting). It starts with an introductory overview of the principles of remote sensing from space, and the narratives, and origin, of SDGs.  It considers the operational elements of monitoring, such as completeness of data, uncertainties and costs, as well as introducing students to the practical use of satellite data, using Earth Blox. Earth Blox is a data analytics tools that has a shallow learning curve, giving students quick access to global EO data.  Earth Blox is a new web-based tool, so it requires no local installation or specialised computing hardware.  The bulk of the course looks at 4 SDGs in particular (2, 11, 13, 15), as the easiest examples of how EO data can be used to inform decision makers, or contribute to the broader SDG narrative.

Further information can be found in the University's course catalogue: 

Earth Observation for Sustainable Development Goals

Course Delivery Information

This course is being offered in the 21/22 academic session

Start Dates: 20th September 2021
Course Duration: 5 weeks (+2weeks for final assessment - final assessment due Thursday week 7)
Total Hours:

Total Hours: No more than 100 hrs over 7 weeks (This is indicative only, and will be less if participants have  previous learning, or work experience, in either subject: Online Activities 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78)

Method of Assessment: Coursework 100% 
Level:  This is a University foundation level (SCQF Level 8). The course is of an introductory nature but a broad understanding of the subject area is required.

Entry Requirements

As this course is designed mainly for professionals working with satellite data services or sustainability reporting, we expect our students to have qualifications or work experience in relevant environments (e.g. DFID/FCO/FCDO, USAID, GIZ), Third Sector organisations, commercial satellite data analytics companies, etc.). Some understanding of the fundamentals of physics/maths (e.g. at Higher/As level) would be advantageous but is not a prerequisite for joining the course.

You should be educated to a degree level as this course is catering for those seeking postgraduate academic credit. However, professionals who are involved with managing data services or development projects and have 5 years of work experience may also apply even if they do not hold a degree qualification.

English Language Requirements

You must be comfortable studying and learning in English if it is not your first language.

Course Fees and Funding

Course fees for 21/22 are £960, but funded places are available for people employed, unemployed or furloughed in Scotland who meet Scottish Funding Council elgibility criteria.

Determining eligibility for a funded place for upskilling takes a number of things into account, including fee status, but also location of employer. SFC provide guidance specifically for upskilling courses:

“Courses/provision is open to all Scottish-domiciled/’home fee’ students, which is consistent with SFC’s policy for core funded student places. Students from the rest of the UK (rUK) are not normally considered eligible for SFC funding. If however a university is working with a Scottish/UK employer which has a physical presence or operating in Scotland, rUK employees of that employer would be eligible.”

Organisations like UKCISA, and the University, provide guidance on how to determine your fee status:

If your fee status is Scotland Fee Rate, RUK Fee Rate, or EU-EEA Pre/Settled Scotland Fee rate, you may be eligible for a funded upskilling place. To determine this we will look at your fee status, residency information and, where relevant, details of your employer, to confirm whether the employer is based in, or has a significant presence, in Scotland.

Funding eligibility will be assessed at the point of each application for each course; you may be asked to provide further information if you do not meet the general residence conditions. Please email us at if you would like to discuss your funding eligibility before applying.

Please note that full-time students (including full-time PhD students) are not eligible for funding.


Applications for September 2021 have now closed.

In order to verify that you meet the entry requirements for this course, you will be required to provide either:

  • a degree certificate/transcript for your highest/most relevant academic qualification, or
  • a CV and reference from an employer (if employed) or professional associate (if unemployed) outlining your suitability for the course

The degree certificate/transcript or CV should be emailed to within 24 hours of submitting your application. References should be emailed to the same address (from an institutional/company account if from your employer) within 1 week of submitting your application.