• Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

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Course – 1st Edition

Geographical Information Systems with R: using R as GIS

November 20th-22nd, 2019, Crete (Greece)




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Course overview

A Geographical Information System is a set of data, tools, software and hardware, designed to store, manage, visualise, analyse, and represent spatial data, either in vector (points, lines, polygons) or raster (image, pixels) format. GIS is behind many activities of our world: from Google Earth and Maps, GPS navigation management of logistic and transportation services, land-cover maps such as CORINE, territorial planning, production of topographical maps and other thematic cartographies, to natural risk analyses and calculation of species’ potential distributions. Every activity using spatial data needs a GIS.

Do you know how to work with spatial data? Do you need to use a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) but you cannot buy professional software? Do not worry, there are many alternatives to freeware GIS that are at least as good as the professional solutions. However, it is not so well-known that you can use the famous programming language R as a GIS tool.

This course will teach you the basic theory and practice of GIS using R. By the end of this 3-day practical course, you will have the capacity to visualise, map, and analyse spatial data, in vector as well as raster format.

This course is orientated to PhD and MSc students, as well as other students and researchers working on any discipline using spatial data.

This course will be mainly practical, with some theoretical lectures. All spatial processes and analyses will be performed with R, which is free and open-source software and allows automated and fully reproducible workflows. Students will learn to import different types of spatial data, visualise the data, perform spatial analyses, and represent the results in thematic maps.


Participants must bring their own computer with R installed. Basic knowledge in R is required. No previous knowledge of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is necessary.




Alexander Hotel

Gerakári, Municipality of Amari, 74 061
Crete, Greece

How to get there


November 20th-22nd, 2019




21 hours on-site.

This course is equivalent to 1 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School.

The recognition of ECTS by other institutions depends on each university or school.


Places are limited to 20 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end of it.

Neftali Sillero instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Neftalí Sillero
Centro de Investigação em Ciências Geo-Espaciais

A. Marcia Barbosa instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. A. Márcia Barbosa
CIBIO-InBIO, University of Évora



  • Theory: Introduction to GIS.
  • Practical: Introduction to GIS with R: Import and plot data.
  • Theory: Cartography.
  • Practical: Cartographic projections.


  • Theory: Vector G database base operations.
  • Practical: Attribute and spatial queries: join/merge, filter/subset, select by attribute, select by location, summarize, add/calculate new attributes (columns), plot attributes.
  • Theory: Vector analyses.
  • P: Vector analyses: buffer, merge, dissolve, intersect, unite, select, calculate the area.


  • Theory: Raster GIS.
  • Practical: Raster analyses: rasterize, crop, mask, merge, distance surface, zonal statistics.


  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until September 30th, 2019):
  • 420 € *
    (336 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Regular (after September 30th, 2019):
  • 525 € *
    (420 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.
  • Course Fee + Accommodation Package
  • Early bird (until September 30th, 2019):
  • 630 €*

    (504 € for Ambassador Institutions)

  • Regular (after Septembe 30th, 2019):
  • 735 €*
    (588 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks, transportation between the Venue and Heraklion, accommodation from Sunday to Friday, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.

You can check the list of Ambassador Institutions. If you want your institution to become a Transmitting Science Ambassador please contact us at communication@transmittingscience.com


Course Schedule

Participants will make their own way

  • Wednesday to Friday:
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
    • 13:30 to 15:00 Lunch (included).
    • 15:00 to 18:00 Lessons.

The class schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.

Course + Accommodation Package Schedule
  • Tuesday:
    • 18:30 Meeting at Heraklion Archaeological Museum to take the bus to Gerakári.
    • 20:15 Check-in at Alexander Hotel.
    • 20:45 Dinner.
  • Wednesday to Thursday:
    • 08:00 to 09:00 Breakfast
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Lessons
    • 13:30 to 15:00 Lunch (included)
    • 15:00 to 18:00 Lessons
    • 20:30 Dinner
  • Friday:
    • 8:00 to 9:00 Breakfast.
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Lessons
    • 13:30 to 15:00 Lunch (included)
    • 15:00 to 18:00 Lessons
    • 18:30 Meeting at Alexander Hotel to take the bus to Heraklion.
    • 20:15 Arrival at Heraklion Archaeological Museum

The class schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.


If you choose the Accommodation Package you will be hosted at Alexander Hotel  in Gerakári village, in shared en-suite rooms, although you will only share rooms with other course participants (male or female only).

If you prefer to stay in a single en-suite room, you can do so with a supplementary charge.

The Accommodation Package includes transportation from the centre of Heraklion to the venue and back, at the start and end of the course, respectively. The trip takes around 1 hour 50 minutes each way. If you require transportation from or to Chania (the other city of Crete with an airport), please contact the course coordinator who can arrange it at an additional cost.

If you do not wish to take the Accommodation Package, you can find a few other options in the surrounding area. However, please be aware that access to and travelling around the area requires a private vehicle as public transport is scarce. Therefore, course participants will find choosing the Accommodation Package more convenient.


Discounts are not cumulative and apply only on the Course Fee. We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact courses@transmittingscience.com).

Former participants will have a 5 % discount on the Course Fee.

20 % discount on the Course Fee is offered for members of some organizations (Ambassador Institutions). If you want to apply to this discount please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later).

Unemployed scientists living in the country were the course will be held, as well as PhD students based in that country without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, could benefit from a 40 % discount on the Course Fee. If you want to ask for this discount, please contact the course coordinator. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.