Students on a field trip to Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve.

At SENS, we believe in continually seeking student and alumni feedback and reviewing program content to provide students with courses that are innovative, challenging and applicable to today’s professional realities. 

Beginning in May 2014, SENS is offering a new suite of core courses and has a new set of program requirements. In 2013, we embarked on an ambitious strategy to renew our curriculum across all three graduate programs. Through extensive consultation with students, the development of key graduate attributes and enormous effort by faculty and staff, a curriculum was created that builds knowledge around sustainability and integrates social and natural sciences throughout. Additionally, our required courses now explicitly introduce field skills and analytical and problem-solving methods. 

The core and elective courses we offer provide students with a deep understanding of sustainability and how it is conceptualized across disciplines. Core courses are team-taught and emphasize interdisciplinary concepts and hands-on learning. Students learn to integrate a variety of perspectives and disciplines to solve complex environmental challenges. Our core field course ENVS 806 teaches students valuable field method skills and immerses them in place-based learning.

Course Requirements

MSEM students*

MSEM students are required to take ENVS 805, 806, 807, 808, 990 and 992 (18 credit units). They must also complete 12 credit units of additional courses offered through the U of S. 

An MSEM student may take up to two senior undergraduate courses to fulfill elective requirements, with approval of the graduate chair. Please note that not all elective courses listed below will be offered each year.

MES and PhD students*

MES students must complete a minimum of 12 credit units of graduate coursework. They are required to take ENVS 803, 807, 990 and 994 with an additional six credit units of electives.

PhD students must complete a minimum of six credit units of graduate courses. They are required to take ENVS 809, 990 and 996. They are also required to take three credit units of electives. 

MES and PhD students must consult their faculty supervisor or advisory committee when selecting their elective courses. A student may take one 400-level undergraduate course to fulfill the elective requirement with the approval of the advisory committee. Credit may be granted for graduate-level courses taken previously at the U of S or another university, provided they have not already been credited toward a bachelor's or advanced degree. Students are encouraged to consult the elective list for courses that may be of interest to them.

*Students who began their program prior to May 2014 and who still have outstanding courses should consult with the graduate chair and their supervisor(s). 

Core Courses

ENVS 803.3 – Research in Environment and Sustainability: This course is designed for MES and PhD students. It introduces graduate students to conceptual, practical, and ethical issues in conducting interdisciplinary research about environment and sustainability. By the end of the course, students will have a research plan from which their proposal and research activities can be developed.

ENVS 805.3 – Data Analysis and Management: Environmental data management is complex because of its volume, qualitative and quantitative forms, and temporal and spatial characteristics. This course introduces students to statistical, qualitative, and visual methods of problem solving and data reduction and representation and describes methods for managing large and complex data sets.

ENVS 806.3 – Field Skills in Environment and Sustainability: Combining a field experience at Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve with a team-oriented sustainability assessment, this course will provide hands-on training in a variety of practical skills and techniques in ecological, hydrological and social sciences related to rural communities and agro-ecosystems. Students should be prepared to work in the outdoors. 

  • This course has excursion fees in addition to regular tuition.
  • Important dates (tentative): September 3 - 9, 2014, 5 day field trip and two campus learning days.

ENVS 807.3 – Sustainability in Theory and Practice: This course is designed for graduate students to improve their knowledge of applied environmental and sustainability problems and develop problem-solving skills. The focus will be on problem identification concepts, investigation of potential causes, identification and implementation of potential solutions or remedial measures, and action plans to evaluate anticipated results. 

ENVS 808.3 – Tools and Applications for Sustainability Problem-solving: Intended to enhance students' professional and scholarly effectiveness, this course introduces an interdisciplinary approach to environmental conservation problems (from the policy sciences) that enables them to critically appraise and constructively engage with environmental and sustainability policy and processes, and develop functional understanding of conventional institutional approaches to environmental management and new emergent approaches.

ENVS 809.3 - PhD Seminar in Sustainability: This seminar course examines ideas and assumptions that underpin attempts to acheive 'sustainability' and explores different strategies aimed at advancing sustainability objectives. Students will examine fundamental conflicts in values and choices, governance options and challenges, and scientific and societal uncertainty about human-environment interactions. This course is open to PhD students only.

ENVS 990 – Seminar in Environment and Sustainability (no credit unit)

ENVS 992.6 – Project in Environment and Sustainability: Project in Environment and Sustainability is a requirement of the Master of Sustainable Environmental Management (MSEM) degree, and accessible only to those students. Intended to permit students to build upon skills gained through the course component of their program, the project gives an opportunity to further investigate an aspect of environment and sustainability of particular interest and in a manner which contributes to their professional development.

ENVS 994 – Master's Research in Environment and Sustainability (no credit unit): For MES students only.

ENVS 996 - PhD Research in Environmenta and Sustainability (no credit unit)

Suggested Elective Courses Offered by SENS and Affiliated Units

Note that not all classes are offered each academic year. 

  • ENVS 811.3 - Multiple Ways of Knowing in Environmental Decision-making - This course examines multiple ways of knowing (epistemologies) used in environmental decision-making, including, but not limited to, Aboriginal knowledge systems.  The course involves critical examination of human-nature relations. Students are asked to analyze their own decision-making beliefs and practices in the context of multiple understandings of the world.  Applications to the legal "duty to consult" with Aboriginal peoples will be addressed. (Not offered in 2014/2015)
  • ENVS 812.3 – Statistical Methods in Environment and Sustainability - This course is designed for graduate students to improve their knowledge and understanding of the application of statistical methods in environmental sciences. Content will include introduction to basic statistical concepts including exploratory data analysis techniques, continuous and discrete distributions, hypothesis testing, correlation and regression analysis, analysis of variance, experimental designs, nonparametric statistics, trend testing, and introduction to generalized linear models and extreme value theory. The primary objective of the course is for students to learn a variety of techniques that are applicable across a range of problems, irrespective of a specific discipline, involving small and large datasets. At the end of the course, students should be able to apply the techniques to their own research projects. NOTE: this class will be offered in Term 2 during the 2014/2015 academic year, but will not appear in the registration system until sometime late in Term 1.  Contact the SENS office for details.
  • ENVS 813.3 - Numerical Modeling for Environmental Engineers and Scientists – The purpose of this course is to provide graduate students with a set of modeling skills to allow them to develop their own numerical models to solve problems of coupled flow and transport in porous media. The course requires a basic understanding of groundwater flow and transport processes. A particular set of numerical methods for solving sets of partial differential equations are introduced to the student. Models are written in MATLAB using ODE solvers. Specific applications include models for water supplies in aquifers, contamination in aquifers, and water and energy balances in soils. This will also provide the student with an in-depth understanding of widely used commercial and non-commercial software such as USGS MODFLOW. The models help the student to think through the physical processes and interpret field data.  NOTE: this class will be offered in Term 2 during the 2014/2015 academic year, but will not appear in the registration system until sometime late in Term 1.  Contact the SENS office for details.
  • ENVS 821.3 - Sustainable Water Resources - This course will rigorously explore water resource sustainability in western Canada from physical, chemical, biological, socio-economic, and technological perspectives. Biophysical influences on water abundance and quality, current threats to water resources, and efforts to provide for sustainable management of water resources will be examined.
  • ENVS 822.3 - Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainability - This course is designed to introduce students, in an integrative manner, to the field of biodiversity conservation and various aspects of sustainable development. Understanding biodiversity and its management requires an interdisciplinary approach with particular reference to mechanisms of change and human impacts on the environment (not offered in 2014/2015).
  • ENVS 823.3 – Chemicals in the Environment – This course will provide an understanding of the processes that control the movement of chemical contaminants in the environment. Local and global methods for chemical regulation will be addressed in the context of society and economics. The use of modeling to predict the environmental fate/effects of contaminants will be presented
  • ENVS 831.3 - Current Issues in Land Reclamation and Remediation - Current issues in land reclamation and remediation are examined. The impact of human activity in a variety of environments is examined and strategies for reclamation and remediation are investigated. Biophysical factors are the emphasis of the course, however the context of social and economic issues are incorporated.
Compressed Courses

Every year during the second term, a select number of courses are offered in a compressed, four-week format. This format enables our students to participate in other activities, such as student exchange programs with partner schools overseas with similar course formats. Compressed courses also allow for in-depth concentration and study on one topic at a time and more time for students to concentrate on proposal writing and field work. The courses offered in the compressed format are advertised to students each fall and may change year to year.

Please note that this initiative is subject to change, based on professor availability and student enrollment.

A list of courses offered in compressed format will be posted as they become available.