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Course Outlines

SURV 5108

Fundamentals of Surveying

School School of Construction and the Environment
Program Geomatics Part Time Studies
Course Credits 1.5
Minimum Passing Grade 50%
Start Date September 11, 2021
End Date October 23, 2021
Total Hours 9
Total Weeks 6
Hours/Weeks 1.5
Delivery Type Lecture/Lab
CRN 31582

Acknowledgement of Territories

The British Columbia Institute of Technology acknowledges that our campuses are located on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Nations of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam).

Instructor Details

Name Christopher Griffith
E-mail Instructor to provide
Location SW02, 318
Office Hours Instructor to provide

Course Description

This course introduces some basic fundamental concepts of surveying. Topics include surveying terminology, instrumentation and computations for determining horizontal positions and elevations. Also included is a very basic field introduction to the use of a differential level for determining elevation differences and a total station for determining horizontal positions and elevations.

Course Learning Outcomes/Competencies

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

Describe Basic Concepts

  • Define geomatics and surveying.
  • List the various branches of surveying.
  • Define and identify systematic and random errors.
  • Define and identify blunders.
  • Outline the properties of geometric space.
  • Carry out slope and sea level distance reductions.
  • Carry out computations on a simple plane involving rectangular and polar coordinates.

Determine Elevation Differences

  • Identify the basic components of a surveyor's level.
  • Describe barometric, differential and trigonometric levelling.
  • Compute and adjust a differential level loop.
  • Compute elevation differences using vertical angles and distances.
  • Compute and apply the vertical correction for earth curvature and refraction.
  • Perform a differential levelling loop.

Determine Coordinates by Traversing

  • Identify the basic components of a total station.
  • Describe the difference between a closed traverse and an open traverse.
  • Compute and adjust the angular misclosure in a closed traverse.
  • Determine the coordinate misclosure of a closed traverse.
  • Adjust a traverse using the Compass Rule.

Carry Out a Topographic Survey

  • Explain the purpose of a topographic plan and contours.
  • List the properties of contours.
  • Carry out the field measurements for a topographic plan using a total station.
  • Produce a scaled topographic survey plan.

Describe the Global Positioning Satellite System

  • Explain the components of the GPS system.
  • Describe the basic concept of satellite positioning.
  • List the errors that exist in GPS measurements.
  • Explain ellipsoid-geoid separation.
  • Explain the importance of selecting the correct datum.
  • Define the various acronyms associated with GPS.

Learning Resources

Course notes will be supplied.


1. Calculator with trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent) and the capability to convert degrees, minute, seconds (DMS) to decimal degrees (DECDEG) - Texas TI-30Xa recommended

2. Douglas (Navigational) protractor, metric scale and straight edge


Any recent textbook dealing with Geomatics or surveying (many are available in the BCIT library) such as

1.. “Elementary Surveying: An Introduction to Geomatics”, 13th Edition (2011), Charles D. Ghilani and Paul R. Wolf, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN-10 0-13-255434-8 or ISBN-13 978-0-13-255434-3

2. “Surveying: Principles and Applications”, 8th Edition (2009), Barry F. Kavanagh, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN-10 0-13-236512-X or ISBN-13 978-0-13-236512-3

3. “Surveying with Construction Applications”, 6th Edition (2007), Barry F. Kavanagh, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN-10 0131709321 or ISBN-13 9780131709324

4. “Geomatics”, 1st Edition (2003), Barry F. Kavanagh. Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN-10 013032289X or ISBN-13 9780130322890

Evaluation Criteria

Criteria % Comments
Assignments30A combined total of 50% from all components is required to pass this course.
Field Labs253 assignments worth 10% each, two field labs - levelling lab 5%, topo lab 20%
Final Written Exam45Closed book, two hours long, all equations will be supplied

Attendance Requirements

As this is only a 6 week course, attendence is crucial. If you cannot make it to class for any reason, please contact the instructor ASAP. As per BCIT COVID guidelines, if you are not feeling well, stay home!

Safety equipment or protective clothing

Substantial footware required for field work, weeks 2, 4 and 5. No Sandals!

Course Schedule and Assignments

September 11, 2021Introduction & Coordinate GeometryWorking with Polar & Rectangular Coordinates
September 18, 2021Vertical Positioning - LevellingVertical PositioningLab 1
September 25, 2021Horizontal Positioning - TraversingTraversing
October 2, 2021Topographic surveys - Intro to total stationsLab 2
October 16, 2021Topographic surveys and GNSSLab 2
October 23, 2021Review and Final Exam

BCIT Policy

Any student who needs special assistance in the event of a medical emergency or building evacuation (either because of a disability or for any other reason) should promptly inform their course instructor(s) and Accessibility Services of their personal circumstances.

Human Rights, Harassment and Discrimination:
The BCIT community is made up of individuals from every ability, background, experience and identity, each contributing uniquely to the richness and diversity of the BCIT community as a whole. In recognition of this, and the intrinsic value of our diversity, BCIT seeks to foster a climate of collaboration, understanding and mutual respect between all members of the community and ensure an inclusive accessible working and learning environment where everyone can succeed.

Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion is a supportive resource for both students and employees of BCIT, to foster a respectful learning and working environment. Any student who feels that they are experiencing discrimination or harassment (personal or human rights-related) can confidentially access this resource for advice and support. Please see Policy 7507 – Harassment and Discrimination and accompanying procedure.

Students should make themselves aware of additional Education, Administration, Safety and other BCIT policies listed at

Guidelines for School of Construction and the Environment

Students must successfully complete a course within a maximum of three (3) attempts at the course. Students with two attempts in a single course will be allowed to repeat the course only upon special written permission from the Associate Dean. Students who have not successfully completed a course within three attempts will not be eligible to graduate from their respective program.


I verify that the content of this course outline is current.
Christopher Griffith, Instructor
September 09, 2021

I verify that this course outline has been reviewed.
Donna Conroy, Program Head
September 09, 2021

I verify that this course outline has been reviewed and complies with BCIT policy.
Steven Kuan, Associate Dean
September 17, 2021

Note: Should changes be required to the content of this course outline, students will be given reasonable notice.