Earth Observation for Sustainable Development Goals (April 2024)
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.
This course is aimed at beginners and non-technical people looking for an introduction to Earth observation. The primary aim is to provide students with a well-grounded understanding of the important insights provided by satellite observations.
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.
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.
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Understand the main methods by which satellite data is, or can be, collected, stored, analysed and applied in an SDG context.
- Distinguish between and critically evaluate the main arguments and policy drivers relevant to sustainable development goals (specifically, SDGs 2,11,13,15).
- Understand and critically debate the choice of particular satellite data and methodological approaches to informing assessments of SDGs 2, 11, 13 and 15.
- Evaluate the pros and cons (in an SDG context) of different satellite instruments and their data, at various time and space scales, including specifics such as spatial resolution, mapping capacity and practical implementation in monitoring systems.
- For their own areas of interest, find, visualise and interpret new and archived Earth observation data from satellites, using tools such as Google Earth, EO Browser, or Earth Blox.
This is a 10-week course. This course comprises a total of no more than 100 study hours (Online Activities 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78).
The only synchronous sessions are the weekly tutorials held for 1 hour. All course instructions, tests, quizzes, assessments and final submissions are asynchronous.
The course is divided into 5 parts, each 2 weeks long. At the end of each week there are quizzes and at the end of each part are graded tests. The 5 graded tests have submission deadlines a week from the conclusion of that part. The first submitted assessment is taken halfway through the course. The final assessment submission deadline is a week from the conclusion of the last part of the course, with extension included.
Assessment is 100% coursework and is made up of:
Practical assessments (5 assessments on Earth Blox, each 6%) One page Policy Brief (30%) 1,200 word essay (40%)
Course fees for 23/24 are £1065 but funded places may be available for people employed or unemployed in Scotland (residency requirements apply).
Through the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Upskilling Fund, a limited number of fully-funded places are available on Data Upskilling Short Courses at The University of Edinburgh.
Funded places are available to those who meet SFC fee waiver criteria:
“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.”
If you are from outside Scotland, you need to have settled status in the UK and meet other residency criteria:
- be ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years immediately before course start date, and
- have ‘settled status’ in the UK (as set out in the Immigration Act 1971) at the course start date, and
- be ordinarily resident in Scotland at the course start date.
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. You can check your likely fee status here. Please email us at email@example.com 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.
You will receive a certificate of completion after the final assessment date if you have submitted your coursework.
Applications for April 2024 are now open.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Once complete, your application will be processed in 1-2 weeks. Applications will be processed on a first come, first served basis with priority given to applicants who meet the criteria for a funded place. We aim to email all applicants within 2 weeks of submission regardless of the outcome of their application.
Applications will close on 22nd April 2024.