MSc Remote Sensing

Renewable Natural Resources


Professor Martin Wooster
Department of Geography
King's College London
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS
Tel: + 44 207 848 2577

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 Renewable Natural Resources 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.


The assessed practical content of the course will account for 50% of the marks for the course. A written examination will count for the remaining 50%. Each session has associated with it a practical exercise. NB -ONLY the full writeup is assessed.

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

Full writeup

In addition to the lab notebook, you are required to write one of the practicals (of your choice) up in full. This writeup must be typed, and should include an in-depth analysis of the experimental results and conclusions, backed up by reference to relevant literature. This writeup should take the form of a journal article,- you should follow the style of Remote Sensing of Environment. This piece of work should be of 2500 words length. Programs should be given in appendices (unlike a standard journal article). You are expected to reference any literature cited correctly and provide a reference list..

Structure of the course:

The course runs over the whole of the second term - from Thursday 21st January to Thursday 18th arch in 2009 and counts for 15 units (25% of your marks for second term work). You should expect to be spending around 25% of your time on this course, although lectures do not take place every week. 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 or at Kings College (location to be advised). Practical sessions in the afternoon will take place either in the UNIX lab in the Pearson Building or B17/18 at KCL (31 Jan., 7 Feb.). The sessions will finish around 5:00.

Students are encouraged to work in small groups in completing the practical exercises, although all written work must be completed individually. 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).


Thursday 21st January

Lecture 1: Radiative Transfer Theory

Lewis &

Lecture #1a (10 am - 1 pm) Pearson Seminar Room (G07)

Lecture #1b (2pm - 5pm) Seminar Room 2, Cruciform Building Foyer

  • Introduction to radiative transfer theory (Wooster)
Thursday 28th January

Lecture 2: Rainfall Estimation


Lecture: #2 (KCL)

Practical #2: (B17/18 at KCL)
Thursday 4th February

Lecture 2. Lumped Parameter Modelling and Burned Area Detection


Lecture: #3 (Pearson Seminar Room G07)

practical #3: (Pearson House UNIX lab)
Thursday 13th February

Lecture 4. Fire Monitoring and Radiative Power


Lecture: #4 (KCL)

practical #4: (KCL)
Thursday 25th February

Lecture 5. Canopy Reflectance Modelling and Inversion


Lecture: #5 (Pearson Seminar Room: G07)

Practical #5: (Pearson Unix Lab)
Thursday 4th March



Lecture: #6 (KCL)

practical #4: (KCL)