Natural sciences electives

Each current ECE student must take two Natural Sciences Electives (NSEs) (see the Undergraduate Calendar). Two lists of courses have been approved and each student must take one course from List 1 Intensive Natural Sciences Courses and a second course from either List 1 or List 2 Natural Sciences Courses. With approval from your Academic Advisor, it is possible to instead take three (3) courses from List 2; however, the third course must be taken as an extra during a Co-op Work-term or as an extra course during an academic term.  Taking a third NSE will, however, require you to take a course as an extra during an Academic Term or require you to take a course during a Co-op Work-term, which will require you to pay tuition.

Students may have noticed that more recent calendars do not distinguish between List-1 and List-2 NSEs. This does not change the requirements for students whose cohort calendar still require the NSEs to be chosen from specific lists. However, the following courses previously listed as List 2 have now been elevated to List 1 for all ECE undergraduate students:

  1. BIOL 110
  2. BIOL 211
  3. BIOL 241
  4. CHE 161
  5. CHEM 123
  6. CHEM 209
  7. CHEM 217
  8. CHEM 237
  9. CHEM 254
  10. CHEM 356
  11. EARTH 123
  12. PHYS 234

Some of the NSEs have a laboratory component.  In the Science faculty, laboratories are their own 0.25 weight course in addition to the 0.5 weight course.  Because this requires you to overload the number of courses you normally take in a term, the department gives you the option as to whether or not the laboratory counts toward you term average.  You must decide whether or not the laboratory course counts toward your term average no later than four weeks prior to the first day of final examinations.  Please talk to your program advisor/coordinator.  If you fail the laboratory course, you can still count the course as a List-2 NSE.

Natural sciences electives allow students to choose their area of interest in the sciences. For example, a student may choose to focus in one of the following areas:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Physics

Note that ECE 209 Electronic and Electrical Properties of Materials can be used as an NSE for computer engineering students, but how it may be used depends on the Undergraduate Calendar under which you were admitted:

  1. If you were admitted prior to or in Fall 2014, it may be used as a List-1 NSE,
  2. if you were admitted in Fall 2015 or 2016, it may only be used as a List-2 NSE, and
  3. if you were admitted in Fall 2017 or after, you should check the Undergraduate Calendar under which you were admitted.

The department offers three scheduled List-1 NSE courses in 4A and 4B, all of which are cross listed with physics courses:

  • ECE 403 Thermal Physics (4A)
  • ECE 404 Geometrical and Physical Optics (4B)
  • ECE 405 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (4B)

The course ECE 403 also counts toward the Mechatronics Option.

If you read through the List-1 Natural Science Intensive Courses in the Undergraduate Calendar, you will note that many of the courses are associated with associated with laboratories. Unlike ECE courses, it is necessary to enrol in both the course and the laboratory separately. The List-1 courses that are associated with a laboratory component are also available as a List-2 course if a student chooses to take just the course component without the associated laboratory.

Some courses from other departments may count as List-2 NSEs. One such case is PSYCH 261.

Notice: The ECE department is not notified when courses on the NSE list are deactivated by their respective departments and programs; consequently, courses listed as approved NSEs may no longer be available. If you happen to note a discrepancy, please let us know. We will try to post that information here. If a course has been deactivated and you notice a similar course, you are welcome to request that we consider the course for inclusion on the NSE list.