Surveying is the examination of land to later describe, map or utilise it. This requires a great deal of accuracy attained through the use of geometry, engineering, trigonometry, physics and more. Postgraduate study into the field provides students with practical knowledge and relevant mathematical methods. It is an opportunity to hone existing skills or develop entirely new ones.
Surveying has been conducted since ancient times, with some of the earliest examples taking place at the Great Pyramid of Giza in Ancient Egypt. Ancient surveyors known as ‘rope stretchers’ would determine its boundaries around 2700 BCE through basic geometry. It wasn’t until Gunter’s chain was introduced in 1620 AD by Edmund Gunter that the field gained a method of accurate land plotting. Over the course of two hundred years the field incrementally gained increasingly advanced methodology, evidenced by the Principal Triangulation of Britain in 1784.
Nowadays the field sees extensive commercial use, ranging from plotting land as Gunter did to far grander operations. Modern professional surveyors contribute to an ancient field through the use of technology built upon centuries of advancement.
Surveying is perfect for trigonometry or geometry enthusiasts looking for a useful and rewarding career that utilises their passions. It is a discipline that requires patience and a high level of diligence to ensure calculations are sound and methodology equally so. If you’re a disciplined mathematician who’s in the habit of triple checking their work, surveying could be a perfect fit.
Surveying can be taken up to master level, each program designed for working professionals.
Graduate certificates provide basic knowledge on vital surveying procedures. Programs like those from Bond University offer units in planning processes, soil mechanics, fire engineering for buildings and more. These can take six to eight months if studied full time or longer if undergone part time. Experience in spatial sciences, structural engineering, construction and a variety of other undergraduate specialisations are required for entry into these courses.
Graduate diplomas offer more extensive knowledge, taking a year of full time study to complete. Institutions like the University of Tasmania provide units in land law, cadastral studies, studio projects building upon undergraduate study and professional practice. A relevant undergraduate degree in spatial sciences or equivalent is consequently a requirement for entry.
Master level courses provide comprehensive knowledge over the course of two to four years. Western Sydney University and others spend this time on professional practice, regulations, planning, development control and building engineering. Entry requirements often consist of degrees in civil engineering, building, planning, architecture, spatial sciences and more. This particular degree and many others are focussed around building surveying, making prior knowledge of fire safety and bushfire protection advantageous.
These professionals inform land surveyors of all the information they require for a project. They take measurements, plot graphs using sophisticated software and solve mathematical problems to make sure any given land development, mining or building project goes smoothly. Companies like Landair Surveys hire surveying technicians to ensure their operations are conducted smoothly.
Those with postgraduate qualifications and professional training exclusively fill this role, but those that do have boundless opportunities. Registered surveyors study natural and urban environments, give critical advice to project developers and use laser technology to analyse distances and angles. Companies like Crux Surveying value registered surveyors as a crucial part of their team.
Geographic information system (GIS) officers are responsible for maintaining and using these systems to provide spatial data analysis. They disseminate and present this data for use in any given surveying project, making them critical to the information gathering process. Companies like Lendlease that provide infrastructure and advice have great need for GIS officers to ensure they are as informed as possible.
There are several ways a postgraduate student in surveying can utilise their qualifications, a few of which are listed below:
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