MSc Remote Sensing

Vegetation Science 2010-


Professor Philip Lewis
Department of Geography
University College London
Gower St, London, WC1H 6BT
Tel: + 44 207 679 0585



[Aims] [Assessment] [Structure of the course] [Timetable]

Course Purpose and Structure

Information about the course is available on: (this page).

The course covers a review of major factors controlling the interaction of electromagnetic radiation; Radiative Transfer Theory as applied to optical and microwave scattering; use of MODTRAN radiative transfer model to atmospherically correct thermal infrared remote sensing data. Remote estimation of water and land surface temperatures. Rainfall estimation, vegetation condition monitoring and the remote sensing of fire and its impact on the land surface and atmosphere.


The MSc Remote Sensing second-term option in Vegetation Science (CEGEG065) has two main purposes:

(i) To enable the student to gain an understanding of the factors affecting the signal received at a remote sensing instrument.

(ii) To enable the student to learn about and explore ways in which we are and will, in the near future, be able to infer information about the nature of vegetated surfaces from remote sening instruments.

Subsidiary aims include

(i) To enable the student to learn about and gain experience in computer-based modelling.

(ii) To enable the student to gain access to and an understanding of the research literature in the field of vegetation science/canopy reflectance/scattering modelling at optical and microwave wavelengths.

(iii) To allow the students practice in presenting the results of research/experimentation in both written and oral form.

The course concentrates on the use of remote sensing measurements at visible, near infrared, and microwave wavelengths, although reference to material dealing with other parts of the EM spectrum is given.

It is hoped that the course will be stimulating, useful, and informative, but (constructive!) comments on the material/structure are welcome at any time.


A written examination (3 hours) counts for 100% of the assessment. Each session (other than week 1) has associated with it a practical exercise that you should complete. This is not assessed, but you may be asked questions associated with what you will learn in the practicals.

Laboratory notebook

You should keep a laboratory notebook describing the experiments you have run in brief, presenting results with some relevant comment, and a small section on any conclusions drawn. You should include relevant material such as programs written and graphs/images in the lab. notebook. The notebokk does NOT form a formal part of the assessment, but is intended for you to keep track of the computer experiments you are performing. The notebook can be a book or loose leaf folder. Written work in a notebook does not need to be typed. Alternatively, you may find it convenient to make use of the computer to present your notebook (e.g., putting relevant graphs and images into an html document). In the notebook, you should try to demonstrate:

(i) that you have completed the assigned task

(ii) that you have an understanding of the results

(iii) that you can produce a relevant set of conclusions from each experiment

Structure of the course:

The course runs for 3 weeks in the second half of the second term - from Tuesday 23rd February to Tuesday 9th March in 2010 and counts for 7.5 units (12.5% of your marks for second term work). You should expect to be spending around 12.5% of your time on this course. You should spend time outside of lectures on understanding the material, additional reading and completing practicals.

The 'normal' format of a day for which there are lectures will be lectures in the morning and practicals in the afternoon. Lectures will begin at 10:00 am and will take place in the Pearson Building seminar room (G07) at UCL. Practical sessions in the afternoon will take place in the UNIX lab in the Pearson Building. The sessions will finish around 5:00.

Students are encouraged to work in small groups in completing the practical exercises. Students are expected to complete practical work and reading on the days not allocated as 'formal lectures'.  Staff time will be made available over the period of the course for further discussions outside of the formal lectures.

Students are required to attend all sessions. If a student is unable to attend a particular session, s/he should contact the supervisor, before the event (if at all possible).


Tuesday 23rd January

Lecture 1: Radiative Transfer Theory

Lewis &

Lecture #1a (13:30 am - 17:00 pm) Pearson Seminar Room (G07)

Tuesday 2nd March

Lecture 2. Lumped Parameter Modelling and Burned Area Detection


Lecture: #3 (10:00-17:00) (Pearson Seminar Room G07)

practical #3: (Pearson House UNIX lab)
Tuesday 9th March

Lecture 3. Canopy Reflectance Modelling and Inversion


Lecture: #3 (10:00-17:00) (Pearson Seminar Room: G07)

Practical #5: (Pearson Unix Lab)