British Columbia Institute of

Important Notice: COVID-19 Institute response


TSYH 1166 - Maps and Topographic Drawings

Transystems Part-time Studies Course

School of Construction and the Environment

BCIT is planning for a substantial return to on-campus activity for the fall 2021 term as informed by BC Public Health Officer guidelines. Refer to each course listing for details.

Course Details

Introduces the student to the principles of topographic maps and ordering aerial photographs. Mapping symbols, mapping systems, scale, contours, profiles and determining distance, direction and area are also covered in the course





Fall 2021

Below is one offering of this course for the Fall 2021 term.

CRN 32480

Start any time

This is a distance learning course. Start any time. You have 52 weeks from the date you register to complete this course.



Course Outline

TBD – see Learning Outcomes in the interim




  1. Correspondence format.
  2. Please note that the above price is for tuition only; textbooks (if required) are additional. Course materials are available in the Learning Hub: Textbooks are not shipped automatically, please order them from the BCIT Bookstore: Civil Technology PTS Department:
  3. Important course information will be sent to you immediately after registering. Check your myBCIT email account to access this information.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, the student will be able to:

Module 1 - Introduction to Mapping

  • List different map themes.
  • Explain the use of different map types.
  • Convert between SI and Imperial units.

Module 2 - Map Scale and Symbols

  • Describe three ways of expressing scale.
  • Calculate ground distances based on scale and map distance.
  • Calculate map distances based on scale and ground distance.
  • Explain the differences between small-l and large-scale maps.
  • Identify various symbols used on topographic maps.

Module 3 - Measuring Distance, Direction and Area

  • Calculate ground distances from a map.
  • Calculate ground areas from linear scale measurements.
  • Measure ground areas using a dot grid, square grid, and strip method.
  • Measure map directions using a protractor or hand compass.
  • Convert between azimuth and quadrant bearings.
  • Calculate magnetic declination.
  • Explain the effects of magnetic declination.

Module 4 - Working with Contours and Profiles

  • Interpret simple contour patterns on a topographic map.
  • Describe the important characteristics of contours.
  • Draw contours from spot elevations.
  • Calculate the grade of a line given the horizontal and vertical distance.
  • Draw a profile based on field data.
  • Draw a profile based on data from a topographic map.
  • Calculate the elevation of a point between two known elevations.

Module 5 - Mapping Systems

  • Explain the use of the geographic grid system (parallels, meridians, etc.)
  • Explain the purpose of map projections.
  • Describe latitude and longitude as a geographic coordinate system.
  • Describe the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system.
  • Describe the National Topographic System (NTS).
  • Describe the British Columbia Geographic System (BCGS).
  • Describe the Terrain Resource Information Management program (TRIM).

Module 6 - Aerial Photography

  • Explain the importance of selecting appropriate air photos.
  • Describe the component terms in an air photo number.
  • Define endlap and sidelap.
  • Plot by interpolation the centers of intervening photos along a flight line.
  • Identify flight lines and photo centers on index maps.
  • Calculate the scale of an air photo.

Effective as of Fall 2003

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