The Department of Earth and Environmental Science offers six specializations within its two undergraduate programs. Earth Science has three specializations (geology, geophysics, and hydrogeology) and Environmental Sciences also has three specializations (geoscience, water science, and ecology). All are offered through both regular and co-op streams of study. 

First Year 

All Environmental Science programs have a common first year which allows for flexibility between the three specializations. The ecology program consists primarily of biology courses from second year onwards and is offered through the Biology department. 

For Earth Science, geology and hydrogeology specializations have a common first year. All courses are also shared with geophysics with the exception of PHYS 121/122/121L/122L replacing PHYS 111/112/111L/112L, and MATH 114 is taken in first year instead of EARTH 123.   

Program Course Requirements

A breakdown of the types of required courses you will take in your degree is as follows:

Program BIOL MATH PHYS CHEM GEOG EARTH Core EARTH Electives Sci/Math Electives



Ecology 17.5 2 1 5 1 6 1 1* 7


3.5 2 1 3 1 18 4 5 4
Water Science 11.5 2 1 4.5 4 10 1 1* 7
Geology 0 4 3 3 0 20 6 2 4
Hydrogeology 0 5 3 3 0 21.5 4 2 3
Geophysics 0 6 3 3 0 20.5 5 4 1
Geochemistry 0 2 2 10 0 14 3 0 3

 *Course must be chosen from a list of EARTH or BIOL courses

Note: One lab course is represented by 0.5, as it carries half the weight of a lecture course. Each lecture is worth 1 (ie. a value of 2 can represent two lecture courses, one lecture course and two lab courses, or four lab courses). Detailed information on the courses you will take in your degree is available in the Undergraduate Calendar

PGO (Professional Geoscientists of Ontario)

Each specialization in Earth and Environmental Science fulfils different amounts of the knowledge requirements for PGO. Detailed information for each program can be found on the PGO Checklist page. Earth Science programs are designed with the requirements built-in (through a combination of required courses and program electives). Environmental Science - Geoscience can be designed to fulfil the knowledge requirements through careful use of electives. Environmental Science - Water Science can also be designed to fulfil the requirements, although additional courses may need to be taken. 

Average Requirements 

Earth and Environmental Science majors require a cumulative overall average of 60% and a cumulative average of 60% in all EARTH courses. This 'average requirement' is the same for both regular and co-op programs. All degree requirements are listed in the Undergraduate Calendar. Students are governed by the regulations current for their plan at the time they began their studies.


Environmental Science - Water Science

The Water Science program is designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge to address global challenges relating to water including scarcity, quality, and management. This unique program takes an integrative approach by combining earth sciences and the physical, chemical, biological, and management aspects of water to provide students with the breadth of knowledge required to meet multidisciplinary challenges. Water science focuses on the quantity, quality, distribution, and movement of water in the environment. 

Possible careers: Environmental water concerns and water source management.

Courses at a glance: You will take an almost even amount of Earth Science and Biology courses as well as Geography courses (the highest amount out of all programs offered in the Earth and Environmental Science Department).

Comparable program: If you are more interested in the physical processes relating to water transportation and geology and would like to take more math instead of biology, Earth Science - Hydrogeology Specialization may be of interest to you.  

Example courses: (Earth 221) Geochemsitry, (EARTH 342) Geomorphology and GIS Applications, (EARTH 444) Applied Wetland Science. 

Environmental Science - Geoscience

This program provides a basic quantitative background in science and mathematics while offering students greater opportunity to select courses in a wide range of environment-related subject areas, such as chemistry, ecology, microbiology, geography, and hydrogeology. Students will acquire the knowledge base required to assess the environmental impact of surface and subsurface contamination from industry, urbanization, agriculture, and mining.

Possible careers: Environmental issues and legislation in government and the environmental consulting industry.

Courses at a glance: The majority of courses you will take in your degree are Earth Science courses (many of which are electives). Geoscience is the most similar to Earth Science out of the three Environmental Specializations. It offers an increase in Earth Science electives, which allows you to specialize in areas that interest you, as well as a decrease in required math/physics courses. Biology is a common minor pursued by students in this program, and students have the opportunity to take multiple biology courses throughout their studies.  

Comparable program: If you are interested in taking additional math and physics courses in place of biology courses, Earth Science - Geology may be of interest to you.  

Example courses: (EARTH 440) Quaternary Geology, (EARTH 390) Methods in Geological Mapping.

Earth Science - Geophysics Specialization

Geophysics is a broad field where mathematics and physics are combined to study the many phenomena that happen inside, on the surface, and in the atmosphere of the Earth and other planets. In addition to mineral and energy exploration, geophysicists are involved in evaluating earthquake and volcano hazards, monitoring nuclear weapons treaties, assisting in managing and protecting groundwater resources, and studying geomagnetic phenomenon, such as the Aurora Borealis. 

Possible careers: Oil, gas, and base metal exploration and environmental monitoring and management.

Courses at a glance: The majority of courses you will take in your degree are Earth Science courses and program electives (MATH, CHEM, PHYS, AMATH, BIOL, CS). You must be comfortable with math and higher level physics. 

Example courses: (EARTH 460) Geophysics 2 (data processing, time series analysis, computer modelling), (EARTH 461) Geophysics 3 (field data collection and analysis, application of geophysical techniques).

Earth Science - Geology Specialization

Geology is the study of the Earth, its structure and composition, and the physical, chemical, and biological processes that have affected and continue to shape this planet over a variety of time scales. One aspect of geology is the analysis of the origin of rock formations, types, and their importance in areas such as construction. 

Possible careers: Exploration for natural resources (minerals, oil, and gas), environmental protection, identifying geological hazards, and understanding global climate change.

Courses at a glance: The majority of courses you will take in your degree are Earth Science courses. Geology is the least math intensive of the Earth Science specializations and offers the most Earth electives. This allows for flexibility to focus your studies in the areas of Earth Science that most interest you. 

Comparable program: If you are interested in taking biology courses in place of additional math and physics courses, Environmental Science - Geoscience may be of interest to you.  

Example courses: (EARTH 332)Metamorphic petrology, (EARTH 331) Volcanology and Igneous petrology, (EARTH 471) Mineral Deposits. 

Earth Science - Hydrogeology Specialization

Hydrogeology is an interdisciplinary field of study that integrates geological knowledge with the principles of subsurface fluid flow, contaminant migration, geochemistry, mathematics, and physics in order to understand and protect groundwater resources. It is a sub-discipline of hydrology and examines the relationship between geological materials and water flow, focusing on the storage and flow of water in soil, sediments, and rocks. 

Possible careers: Groundwater exploration, assessment and remediation of soil and groundwater contamination due to industrial, agricultural, and mining practices, assessment of urban and rural activities on watersheds. 

Courses at a glance: The majority of courses you will take in your degree are Earth Science courses. You must be comfortable with math and chemistry. During your degree, you will have the opportunity to take courses through multiple faculties, including engineering, to see the different applications of hydrogeology.    

Comparable program: If you are interested in focusing on the role of surface water, its interactions with the environment, and have an interest in biology, Environmental Science - Water Science may be of interest to you.  

Example courses: (EARTH 459) Chemical Hydrogeology, (EARTH 458/458L) Physical Hydrogeology, (EARTH 456) Numerical Hydrogeology, (CIVE 353) Geotechnical Engineering 1.