Map Academy: Get mapping quickly, with QGIS

Go from map zero to map hero with QGIS: 'heat maps', locator maps, election maps, density maps, analysis, design + more

4.77 (161 reviews)
15.5 hours
Apr 2022
last update
regular price

What you will learn

How to make different map types (e.g. 'heat maps', locator maps, density maps, election maps - and more)

Map making workflows - adding data, styling data, labelling, design, map layouts and more (including glowing maps)

The fundamentals of QGIS (100% free software, no license or payment required)

How to export high resolution images from QGIS (e.g. png, pdf, jpg, svg and more)

Spatial analysis concepts (buffer, clip, etc)

The fundamental principles of GIS

How to use QGIS for geographic analysis

Geospatial data formats and concepts

Map projections / coordinate reference systems

Map tips and tricks + fun map stuff!



Millions of people across the world love maps, yet only a small percentage of people know how to make maps - and I'm on a mission to change that. Taking your first steps in geographic information systems (GIS) and digital cartography can be really enjoyable, but if you don't have a guide it can also be a wee bit daunting, so that's why I've launched Map Academy. Using real data from many different countries, this course contains over 140 short lessons to help you get up and running with map making and spatial analysis in QGIS. If you want me to add a new video on a topic of your choice, just get in touch and I'll do my best to create one!

QGIS is the world's most popular open source GIS and is used by major corporations worldwide, as well as by national, regional and local governments - and by academics, students and amateur map enthusiasts. It's 100% free, and it works on Mac, PC and Linux. QGIS downloads and installs in minutes and requires no licences or registration - ever.

By the end of this course, you'll be able to make many different kinds of maps and save them as high quality images in a variety of file formats (e.g. pdf, jpg, png, and many more) for use in documents, presentations and other settings. You might be surprised at how much you can learn and how far you can go with QGIS in a short space of time.

Map Academy: Get mapping quickly, with QGIS is organised into the following sections:

  • Introduction

  • Know your way around QGIS

  • Let's make a map

  • Data handling

  • Locator maps

  • 'Heat maps'

  • Election maps

  • Density maps

  • Fun map stuff

  • Vector tools in QGIS

  • Working with raster data

  • QGIS Plugins

  • Tips and tricks

  • Recap

Okay, so why QGIS? Yes, it's 100% free, but that's not why I want you to use it. The main reasons we use QGIS in this course are as follows.

  • BEAUTY: you can produce beautiful maps in QGIS, with minimal fuss.

  • SPEED: it's fast - it helps you get the job done quickly and meet those pesky deadlines.

  • POWER: its powerful - you can do all kinds of complex spatial analysis with it and go way beyond mapping, if you need to.

  • INNOVATION: the QGIS development team are always making improvements and adding enhanced features.

  • FLEXIBILITY: QGIS can handle any file type, and works on any operating system.

But what if you only need to make simple maps? No problem - it's great for that too. You can use QGIS to make basic maps, as well as performing more complex mapping and spatial analysis tasks - if you need it, QGIS can do it.

Like all software, the initial learning curve can be a bit steep and you can quickly become overwhelmed with words, concepts, data formats and menu options - not to mention the unsettling feeling you can get when you first look at a new user interface. You can find lots of QGIS tricks and tips online, but if you're just starting out with GIS it's often difficult to know what terms to search for, where to look, and who to trust.

This is why I've launched Map Academy here on Udemy. This QGIS course is a systematic, step-by-step introduction that begins with the basics of GIS and data, and guides you all the way through different map types and how to create high quality outputs.

Along the way, you'll learn a ton about fundamental GIS concepts and techniques, all based on the idea of doing-as-you-learn and learning-as-you-do. I'll provide a wide range of interesting, in-depth examples from across the world so that you can apply the learning here to your own specific needs. I'll provide all the data you need - as well as showing you where to find more when you need to (a crucial skill for any GIS user).

I assume no prior knowledge or experience of QGIS, or any other GIS software. So long as you're comfortable using a computer, are enthusiastic about maps, and love learning new things then this course is for you.

I look forward to seeing you in class!

- Alasdair :)


Map Academy: Get mapping quickly, with QGIS - Screenshot_01Map Academy: Get mapping quickly, with QGIS - Screenshot_02Map Academy: Get mapping quickly, with QGIS - Screenshot_03Map Academy: Get mapping quickly, with QGIS - Screenshot_04



Course overview: start here
A few words about Udemy reviews
A brief intro to GIS and QGIS
Terminology: vector, raster and more
A message about unzipping files (for anyone who needs it)
Installation of QGIS (via
Possible MacOS install issue - easy fix
Time to open QGIS now!
Can you answer these questions?

Know your way around QGIS

Know your way around QGIS - introduction
A quick tour of QGIS
Map colours and map navigation
How to change map projections
Saving QGIS projects
QGIS on different operating systems
Change the way QGIS looks
Don't forget the Help menu in QGIS
The QGIS status bar
The View options in QGIS
How to identify features in QGIS
A little reminder of the QGIS interface
A QGIS 'what's what' quiz

Let's make a map

Let's make a map - introduction
Get the data and add it to QGIS
Change the colour of layers in QGIS
Take a look at the attribute table
Create a basic world map
Finalise and export our world map
Make a country map with QGIS
How to use the layer styling panel
Use duplicate layers in QGIS
Change the layer style in QGIS

Data handling in QGIS

Data handling - introduction
Add a vector layer to QGIS
Tips for when you add data to QGIS
Add a raster layer to QGIS
Map a csv file with latitude and longitude in it
Add data via the QGIS browser
So, um, what is a shapefile?
? A little bit about map projections ?
Getting used to attribute tables in QGIS
Convert file formats in QGIS - easy!
Quickly add a base map to QGIS (OpenStreetMap)
The political nature of map data
Filtering a layer in QGIS
Join a spreadsheet to a map layer
Help! Where can I find GIS data for my area?

Locator maps

Locator maps - introduction
Let's look at a locator map (just watch this one, we'll add data in next video)
Get the data, add it to QGIS
Let's filter our map layers
Let's style our locator map
Labelling layers in QGIS
Add title text to your map in QGIS
Export your map from QGIS (png, jpg, pdf, any format!)
A brief tour of the Print Layout - before the next video
Print Layout locator map 1 (using 'lock layers')
Print Layout locator map 2 (using a map theme)
Edit your locator location!
Where's Buckingham Palace? A longer locator example
A little locator map quiz

'Heat maps' (actually called choropleth maps :))

Heat maps (mapping data values) - introduction
Let's grab the data!
Add the data to QGIS now
Join data to your GIS layer
Apply a colour scheme to our map (let's create a choropleth map!)
Manually adjust data classes in your map
Let's add our map to a Print Layout
Add text to the Print Layout
How to add a map legend in QGIS
Exporting a Print Layout in QGIS
Some Print Layout design ideas
Some bonus font and text tips
A little 'heat map' quiz

Election maps

Election maps (mapping categories) - introduction
A 2019 UK election geopackage
Let's style the UK 2019 election map
Make an election map in the Print Layout
How to add a small inset map
Small multiple election maps
Let's look at the 2020 US election
US 2020 election map styles
A US 2020 Print Layout
A proportional symbol election map
But which election map is right?!?
A little election map quiz

Density maps

Density maps - introduction
London density data - yum yum!
Using the 'Heatmap' style in QGIS
Count points in polygons
Density - but by what measure? (e.g. per 10,000 people)
Tips for filtering messy data
Let's look at grid square density
A simplified density map layout (a longer example)
London hotel density Print Layout
A little density map quiz

Fun map stuff

Fun map stuff - introduction
Types of polygon fill in QGIS
How to use a custom point marker
Flows and glows (global flights!)
Blend modes in QGIS (a little NZ example)
Weird bounding box maps
Map magic with geometry generators in QGIS (global spike map)
Colour lines using polygons (with overlay blend)
Spinning, growing sunglasses emoji face (yes, really)
Map projection weirdness (via the CRS button)
Glowing maps in QGIS
Well, that was fun - let's start a new project

Vector tools in QGIS

Vector tools in QGIS - introduction
Basic vector research tools
Cut lakes out of land (the Difference tool)
Create a buffer round a point, line or polygon
How to clip vector features
Select features by location
"How many people live within..."?
Calculating the population centre
Generate polygon centroids
Dissolve a vector layer
Join by location - and other vector tools you may find useful
Vector tools quiz

Working with raster data

Working with raster data - introduction
What on earth is raster data?
Let's take a look at a raster file in QGIS
Basics of raster symbology
Adding multiple raster tiles (including 'virtual raster' solution)
Merge multiple raster tiles into one big one
Generate a new contour layer from a raster
How to clip a raster layer
Blend multiple copies of the same raster together
A tour of raster surface analysis methods
Raster tools quiz

QGIS Plugins

QGIS Plugins - introduction
What is a QGIS Plugin? (let's take a look)
The MapTiler QGIS Plugin
The TravelTime QGIS Plugin
The MMQGIS Plugin
The Globe Builder Plugin
Other useful QGIS Plugins

The End Zone - tips and tricks for QGIS

The End Zone - tips and tricks for QGIS - introduction
Print Layout - a reminder of where things are
Simulate colour blindness in QGIS
Make your border colour match your fill colour
Simplify and smooth a coastline
Fix weird road join symbology problems (casing)
Help! My map layer is in the wrong place!
Save a layer style as the default (and copy/paste styles between layers)
Hey, my country's the wrong shape :(
Copy and paste features to a new layer
How to fix a 'broken' QGIS project (unavailable layers)
Print Layout - map legends tips
Print Layout - a few text tips
How to create a new Shapefile (or GeoPackage)
Create a new cities layer

Course recap, and a big thankyou

Course recap - onwards, to success with QGIS!


July 18, 2022
This course is really well organized for beginner or somebody just needing a refresher. I have used Arcgis and QGIS quite a bit already, but used this to brush up and make more attractive maps and manage data more effectively in QGIS and this class was just what I wanted!
June 28, 2022
It is hands down the best course I've even taken on any GIS software. I love the well thought out examples. This course answers all the questions I had on courses outside of this one that didn't explain things so thoroughly by example and always left me questioning WHY I was doing something. Other courses I've taken had lessons that didn't match the menu options of the QGIS course, however, this one exactly matches the QGIS menu options I see. This allows me to feel more confident that I am doing things right and progress in my knowledge of QGIS. All the lessons build upon the other and because the teacher does it with you, and shows you the results, you know instantly if you've done everything right. Also the teacher is readily acessible for questions if you have them. It's truly a great course for QGIS.
June 23, 2022
Fantastic course if you are a social scientist and would like to represent your findings geographically.
May 30, 2022
The instructor explained clearly how to create maps and was spot on with his delivery. This course gave me the knowledge to create working maps with different styles within QGIS. The instructions where easy to follow and flowed from section to section Smoothly. All the resources are provide so there is no searching for data to create these well thought out maps and each map is relevant to the map style and content.
May 27, 2022
The course is relevant to get me up to speed with QGIS. The content is rich and detailed, flowing from section to section. The presenter is articulate, speak eloquantly and instructions are clear. The support material is adequate. The Udemy platform is well structured, easy to navigate through, expect the notifications section which is cumbersome. All in all, this course is over delivering and beyond my expectations.
May 26, 2022
Absolutely above expectations. Aly is a great presenter. I did not know anything about QGIS and I feel very confident now. His slides are awesome, he made a fantastic job to make the learning journey efficient and fun. I will certainly enroll to all his courses. Excellent job Aly! Many many thanks!
May 5, 2022
In depth teaching by professionals in our own time and convenience. Learning just does not get better than this.
May 3, 2022
It was very informative and easy to follow. I feel I can make basic maps now with relative ease and look forward to learning more advanced techniques.
April 15, 2022
Excellent course. I had a little self taught experience with QGIS and this course was just what I needed. I have learnt a huge amount and many useful methods for using QGIS. It is also a great resource for future reference if you can't quite remember how to do something. Alasdair is very easy to listen to as he clearly explains what to do. Highly recommended.
April 14, 2022
This is one of the best classes I have taken on Udemy. This class is fun and the instructor is knowledgeable and very responsive to answering questions. I highly recommend this course.
April 12, 2022
Yes just what I needed to get foundation knowledge in this FOSS QGIS as not really anyone in house that knows it in a general way.
March 24, 2022
Very good course. I've really enjoyed going with this course. Learnt a lot, got the basics and background to QGIS much clearer in my mind and had fun doing it. And many thanks to you Alasdair for creating and running the course. The pacing was great and so is your accent.
March 18, 2022
March 10, 2022
Excellent Course, clearly broken down with lots of clips demonstrating techniques and options which I am sure I will return to as I make my own maps. Overall a really great introduction. Thanks Alasdair.
February 28, 2022
This course is excellent. Everything is explained really clearly in an entertaining way. I have learnt so much. Thank you for this course.



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