Geological Program Overview

First Year

The first year is common with the Civil and Environmental program. The first year program is designed to facilitate your transition to university life while at the same time providing you with a solid foundation in Engineering Science.


  • Calculus
  • Algebra
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Programming
  • Physics

In addition, you will take two concept courses.

The first concept course will cover the basic methods and principles used by engineers. It has a special emphasis on field skills, such as surveying, and technical communication skills, such as technical report writing and computer aided design.

The second concept course will introduce you to the fundamentals of Earth Engineering. The course develops a geological knowledge for applications to any physical environment and provides an appreciation of the impact of engineering work in the environment.

For more information on First Year Engineering, please visit

Second Year and Beyond

In second year you begin specialized courses to acquire knowledge in specific area. Some of the areas of study include:

Water Resources

  • Flood and Hazard Control
  • Surface and Groundwater Pollution Control
  • Contaminant Transport and Behaviour
  • Groundwater Modelling
  • Hydrologic Cycle and Functions

Geotechnical Design

  • Soil and Rock Mechanics
  • Earth Processes and Materials
  • Earth Retaining Structures and Embankments
  • Rock Excavation

Earth Sciences

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry
  • Geomorphology
  • Earth Resources: Rocks and Minerals
  • Engineering Geology

For more information on the Geological Engineering program at Waterloo, please visit

Field Courses

Field courses are integral to the Geological Engineering program here at Waterloo. The undergrad field program bridges the gap between theory and practice, allowing students to see geological processes first hand.

First Year

  • Local field trip emphasizing the geological history of the region and identification of rock types.

Second Year

  • Geophysics: Detection of a buried channel in the Elora region
  • Stratigraphy and Earth History: The geology of Southern Ontario
  • Mineralogy: Geological investigation of major rock forming minerals

Third Year

  • Introduction to geological mapping in Sudbury and Whitefish Falls area
  • Engineering Geology: Geotechnical evaluation of local quarries and gravel pits

Fourth Year

  • International or National field trip emphasizing field observations of a wide ranging nature.

Supplemental Field Trips

Occasionally, opportunities arise for additional field trips. These are offered on a first come, first served basis, with priority given to geological engineering students. A recent example includes a trip to LOVAT, a manufacturer of tunnel boring machines

Geological engineering field trip to Peru, Summer 2010

Areas of Interest

Starting in third year, Geological Engineering students begin to focus in one of two areas: Geomechanics or Hydrogeology.


This is for students interested in a professional career in areas concerned with the mechanical behaviour of soils and rocks, and construction on, in, or with theses materials.
Potential careers include:

  • Rock mechanics in mining, civil, and petroleum industries
  • Geotechnical aspects of dams, and impoundment design
  • Foundation exploration and design for bridges, buildings, and roads
  • Aggregate resource exploration and development
  • Slope stability in mines and along transportation routes
  • Design and construction of tunnels, shafts, trenches, and other underground structures


This is for students interested in a professional career related to water supply and quality, fluid flow through soil and rocks, and environmental protection and monitoring related to these areas.

Potential careers include:

  • Groundwater exploration, supply and recharge
  • Groundwater remediation and contaminated site restoration
  • Characterizations of surface and subsurface water quality and quantity
  • Petroleum resource exploration and development
  • Geothermal resource exploration and development
  • Landfill integrity and interaction with rainfall