Gary Watmough's Personal Website

Gary Watmough's Personal Website

Research and teaching in geospatial livelihoods and sustainability in the School of Geosciences.


I am a fellow of the higher education academy (FHEA) and the programme director for the Environmental Sustainability MSc. Ensuring the environmental sustainability of society is one of the major challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. The programme explores a range of interdisciplinary questions including>

  • How can the needs of the world’s growing population be met without threatening the ecological processes that support human well-being?
  • How can economy and energy systems be restructured to combat climate change?
  • What policies foster sustainability?
  • How can the necessary changes in the behaviour of organisations and individuals be promoted?

We encourage students to think across different disciplines to blend scientific, socio-economic and policy perspectives for a stronger understanding of sustainability and how it can be achieved. The programme takes an international perspective, with a focus on regions in the global North and South. We typically get 40 students per year from a range of backgrounds including graduates in Politics, Engineering, Social Science, Environmental Scientists, Ecologists, Geographers and Languages. It makes for a dynamic cohort each year.

With a rapidly growing population and global climate change, more organisations are working to promote sustainable development or reduce human impacts on the environment. Edinburgh is a hub for organisations seeking to influence national environmental sustainability debates, giving you access to interesting case studies and opportunities for networking.

Courses I teach on

  1. Applied Research Skills in Environment and Society – I am the course organiser for this course which provides a Masters level introduction to the research approaches, skills and methods that underpin modern social and environmental sciences, with an emphasis on collecting and analysing data. Through a mixture of practical’s, group work, lectures, tutorials and discussion we will explore why and how we do science at the intersection of the social and natural sciences. The course has a focus on mixed methods research by introducing students to quantitative and qualitative skills that can be used independently but that are increasingly used in combination with one another.
  2. Earth Observation for Sustainable Development Goals (EO4SDGs) – I co-developed and am the co-course organiser of this course which introduces students to the role that EO can play in measuring and monitoring of progress towards the sustainable development goals.
  3. Research Practice and Project Planning – I am a lecturer for this course which introduce skills in research methods and project management useful to the GIS professional in the work environment or research scientist. These include writing, presenting, organising, managing projects and time, and conducting field work. The course introduces the GIS dissertation and leads into the annual GIS mini-conference, where students contribute talks on their chosen field of research.
  4. Key Methods in Physical Geography – I am a lecturer for this course which provides Physical Geography students with the key computational and GIS techniques needed for data analysis and visualisation in the course of their dissertation research. They will also be exposed to common datasets and methods for fusing them. The students will be trained in data analysis using Python and ArcGIS through a series of taught practicals and two assessed coursework projects.
  5. Principles and Practice of Remote Sensing – I am a lecturer on this course which provides an introduction to the theory and practice of remote sensing. The aim is to equip students with the wide range of background knowledge and practical skills necessary to use remotely sensed observations with understanding. I introduce students to image analysis techniques used for very-high spatial resolution satellite image data (<1m).

Courses in development

  • I am currently part of the team developing a new course called Sustainable Development Goals: history, progress and beyond 2030 this is with colleagues in the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security

Dissertations Supervised

I am always happy to chat to students interested in combining social and environmental data and techniques to research aspects of human development, sustainability and the sustainable development goals. Some dissertations that i have supervised in the past include:


  • The Runner’s Dilemma: Exploring Perceptions Surrounding the Environmental Impact of Hill Running – MSc
  • Assessing Climate Resiliency among Smallholder Farmers – MSc
  • Exploring UNICEF’s Climate Risk Thresholds to Develop a Children’s Climate Risk Index – MSc
  • Establishing microrefugia for Scots pine within Glen Affric – MSc
  • Range Anxiety and the “Carbon Cost of Convenience” – MSc
  • Assessing the potential for agrivoltaic systems to be implemented in the UK to increase renewable energy production – BSc
  • Detecting Mangrove Damage and Recovery Patterns in Cuba Following Hurricane Irma using Sentinel-2 – BSc


  • Disaster risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation – integrating the Sendai Framework and the Paris Agreement towards local action to sustainable development in southern Brazil – MSc
  • Investigation and Research on the Use of Community Park in Guangzhou and the Physical, Mental and Social Health Benefits to Users – MSc
  • Assessing the Viability of Enacting Energy-Saving Measures for University-Owned Buildings at the University of Edinburgh – MSc


  • Localization of Roof Type in Rural Tanzania using High-Resolution Satellite Imagery and Convolutional Neural Networks – MSc
  • Testing the utility of displaced Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) Program data for measuring travel time to essential services – MSc
  • Combining Population Density, Built Up Surface and Nightlights to Map Spatial Inequality: A Case Study in Malawi – MSc
  • Automatic Segmentation of Rural Buildings in High Resolution Satellite Imagery – MSc


  • Change Analysis for multilevel object-based land classification of agro-forestry landscapes in Kenya and effect of welfare
  • Poverty Mapping in Mozambique by Integrating household surveys and Geospatial Metrics
  • Mapping landcover within the 100 Wild Islands Conservation Area, Nova Scotia using a hybrid image classification approach: A comparison of medium-resolution (Sentinel-2) and high-resolution (WorldView-2) satellite imagery



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