University of St Andrews

Postgraduate Opportunities

GIS and Geoinformatics

We welcome applications for study towards a research degree from candidates with an excellent academic background. The list of projects below indicates the range of interests of our staff, but you are also welcome to suggest your own project in a related area. In the first instance, please contact the relevant member of academic staff to discuss your ideas.

If you have an enquiry about the application process, please contact the Postgraduate Research Secretary, Helen Olaez (

Select our Postgraduate Opportunities page for further information.

Non-linear visualisation techniques for linking movement to its environmental context

Supervisor: Dr Urška Demšar

Visualising the geometry of GPS trajectories is becoming very common. However, since their geometry and temporal progression already use the two or three display dimensions available for visualisation, visually integrating the additional contextual environmental information into the display becomes very difficult. This project will develop new visualisation techniques based on non-linear deformations of 2D graphics. Paths are often difficult to visualise and analyse because our perceptual system cannot easily dissociate their shape from the data. (e.g. it is difficult to estimate the length of a path when the path has many turns). One possible way to address this is to  “unwrap” trajectories into easier geometries that can be readily understood and visually perceived. For example, roads and rivers can be “straightened”, areas can be non-uniformly condensed or expanded, in a similar way as distorting funfair mirrors do. Such non-linear deformations are well known in computer graphics, but their application in movement visualisation has been limited so far. This project requires a student with a degree in geoinformatics or computer science and interest in information visualisation. Note that computer programming experience is essential (Python, java, and preferably visualisation environments, such as Processing and/or D3.js) and students with limited programming experience should not apply.