GESIS Training Courses

Scientific Coordination

André Ernst
Tel: +49 221 4703736

Administrative Coordination

Janina Götsche

Introduction to Geospatial Techniques for Social Scientists in R

Mannheim, B6, 4-5
General Topics:
Course Level:
Software used:
Students: 200 €
Academics: 300 €
Commercial: 600 €
Additional links
Lecturer(s): Stefan Jünger, Anne-Kathrin Stroppe

About the lecturer - Stefan Jünger

About the lecturer - Anne-Kathrin Stroppe

Course description

In recent years, many researchers have renewed interest in the spatially integrated social sciences, following the call of a 'spatial turn' among plenty of its subdisciplines. However, to process, visualize, and analyze geospatial data, social scientists must first be trained in specialized tools called Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The good news is: While this may have been an unacquainted undertaking until recently, the familiar open-source statistical language R can now serve as a full-blown GIS for many research applications.
This course will teach its participants how to exploit R to apply its geospatial techniques in a social science context. We will learn about the most common data formats, their characteristics, and their applications. Most importantly, the course will present available data sources, get data, and process them for further analysis. These steps involve essential geospatial operations, such as cropping, aggregating, or linking data, and the first fundamental steps of modeling and assessing spatial interdependence. The course will be hands-on, so it also includes one of the most rewarding tasks of working with geospatial data: visualizing them through maps.

Target group

Participants will find the course useful if:
  • They are intermediate or advanced users of R who want to learn (more) about geospatial data, their use and analysis, and the creation of maps

  • Learning objectives

    By the end of the course participants will:
  • learn how to process geospatial data in R using the most recent packages and routines available
  • be familiar with the different data formats and structures
  • be able to create maps
  • feel comfortable exploiting geospatial data in R for their own (research) purposes
  • have the skill to take their first steps in assessing spatial interdependence
    Organisational structure of the course
    GESIS Workshops are typically structured around three hours of classroom instruction and three hours of hands-on exercises, tutorials, or lab sessions per day.
    Please specify how you intend to organize your exercise or lab sessions, what you expect from the students, and how you will support them:
    The best way to learn new things in R is to try things out and apply the presented concepts. Therefore, we will have a mixture of lectures and hands-on exercises. More specifically, each topic will be introduced in a lecture by the instructors. Participants will then receive a set of exercises on each topic. The solution to the exercises will be discussed before the start of the next lecture part.


  • Knowledge of R, its syntax, and internal logic
  • Affinity for using script-based languages (R, Stata, Python)
  • Interest in wrangling complex data structures
    Software and hardware requirements
     For this workshop, you need a laptop and the software R and RStudio. A list of packages will be provided in the weeks before the workshop. If you can't bring a laptop, please let us know two weeks in advance of the course start so that we can take care of it.


    Recommended readings