Silhouette of person flying a drone.

Soar to new perspectives with drones

Do you want to take your connection to our planet to new heights? Flying drones gives you the chance to navigate the Earth from above and reach new perspectives like never before.

Capture detailed images from the sky for mapping landscapes and monitoring environmental change. Develop your analytical skills to identify real world features and structures in ways that allow you to provide detailed assessments of our planet. You will feel like you are soaring over the landscape while interacting with our real world datasets.

The Micro-certificate in Mapping with Drones will give you essential skills for a wide range of industries and hands on experience with new advanced technology. Whether you’re looking to build your professional career or just eager to try something new, this program gives you the tools to succeed and the opportunity to discover new possibilities for yourself and the planet.

Take a step forward to a new perspective and elevate your appreciation for the land, the water and the air around us. The sky is the limit with the Micro-certificate in Mapping with Drones.

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Program description

This micro-credential will equip you with the foundational skills, methods and best practices required to use emerging drone and GIS-technology for low-level aerial land survey, data collection and digital mapping.

Drone technology is an emerging skillset in many Earth monitoring fields as it can accurately, quickly, and inexpensively map and survey a diverse range of landscapes. You can use drones to create analysis for forestry, conservation, real estate, construction, mining, emergency management, energy, agriculture and transportation use.

This program will show you how drones and open-source software can perform small drone-based data collection for creating digital 3D and 2D topographical maps.

Topics covered in the program will include:

  • flight planning and site selection
  • mission planning, drone regulations and controls
  • an introduction to photogrammetry, site selection and structure-from-motion (SfM) data processing
  • ground control survey, accuracy assessment, and spatial analysis of acquired datasets
  • GPS data collection
  • Cartographic design
  • Muti-criteria decision making with spatial data analysis

This program is certified by CIFAL Victoria. CIFAL provides certification for training courses that build the capabilities of individuals and communities towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Participants who successfully complete this course are eligible to receive a Certificate of Completion co-signed by UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) and CIFAL Victoria.

Program features

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Online Flexibility
Besides an optional, short, in-person field component in each of the two Mapping with Drones courses; the courses in this program are fully asynchronous to support your learning and help you manage a balanced lifestyle. The two Mapping with Drones courses will also include a virtual field component that mirrors the in-person field experience to provide flexibility for those requiring a fully online training experience.

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The University of Victoria is consistently ranked among the top Canadian comprehensive  universities and is recognized for preparing students for careers in a wide range of disciplines. Upon successful completion of this program, you will receive a micro-certificate.

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Short Term
This three-course program is designed to provide you with the knowledge and tools necessary to achieve your professional goals in just 21 weeks of course studies. 

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Experiential Learning
This program allows you to integrate theory with practice by engaging with your instructors and fellow classmates. You will be given the opportunity to complete applied lab exercises using open software and real-world datasets to solidify your knowledge and skills.

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Teaching Talent
Our instructors are dedicated professionals with years of applied experience. They’re committed and passionate about helping you develop knowledge and skills to realize your full potential.  

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Through the StrongerBC future skills grant, students may be eligible to receive funding for this program. View details and eligibility

UNITAR-CIFAL certification

CIFAL Victoria


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View current UNITAR-CIFAL courses and programs.

Program partners

The University of Victoria logo

Faculty of Social Sciences,
Department of Geography

Program outcomes

Upon completion, learners will be able to:

  1. identify the uses of drone mapping and survey use across various industries
  2. describe the components of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) and identify industry-standard terminology and protocols
  3. plan a structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetric survey including a supporting ground control survey
  4. process SfM imagery with ground control and evaluate positional accuracy
  5. analyze acquired SfM dataset
  6. develop a mapping product
  7. collect, explore, edit, and map spatial data with GPS applications, Google Earth, and QGIS software
  8. conduct multi-criteria decision making with vector and raster overlay analysis
  9. complete supervised satellite classifications in QGIS

Who is this program for?

As geospatial technologies expand from land-based survey tools to aeronautic and drone-based technology, drone mapping is an accessible technology now used in a growing number of additional industries including, but not limited to:

  • Emergency management and search and rescue
  • Construction
  • Mining
  • Surveillance and military
  • Insurance
  • Real estate, development, and appraisal
  • Energy
  • Telecommunications
  • Environmental restoration
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Agriculture

In addition, aerial forestry mapping and drone usage has been identified as an area of high-interest from current and former Restoration of Natural Systems certificate and diploma and Ecological Restoration PSC graduates.

This micro-credential will complement those who may want to learn drone mapping skills as part of their current or future career, but do not necessarily have a dedicated background in GIS or a credential in geography. The program will also be of appeal to recent graduates in entry-level careers looking for a dedicated geospatial skillset.

Career options

Some of our learners pursue careers in the following roles:
  • GIS Specialist
  • Geospatial Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Land Use Planner
  • Transportation Planner
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Restoration Ecologist

Courses and fees

The Micro-certificate in Mapping with Drones requires the following three courses: 
= Courses open for registration

Estimated fees

Description Fee
Program fee $20.00
Course 1 tuition $545.00
Course 2 tuition $545.00
Course 3 tuition $545.00
Estimated Total $1,655.00*
Fees listed in this section are an estimate. Total program fees may vary depending on delivery format, course selections, student fees, textbooks and taxes.

Application information

Admission requirements

No prior GIS experience is assumed for acceptance into the program. See individual course descriptions for specific details.

How to apply

No application is necessary, simply select any of the three courses required for the micro-certificate and register for them independently. When registering, you will have the option to purchase the Micro-certificate in Mapping with Drones fee at an additional cost of $20. You are only required to select this when registering for one of the three courses. 

Once you have completed your third course, your certificate will be automatically issued and sent to you. Certificates will be sent approximately one month after the completion of your third course. 

Note: We are unable to retroactively issue a micro-certificate. Students must purchase the $20 program fee prior to the last day of the last course in the program.

StrongerBC future skills grant

The StrongerBC future skills grant is now available in 2024 (January to March) for midstream learners. For more information and eligibility criteria, view the grant details.