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. 

In May 2014, SENS began offering a new suite of core courses and 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.

MWS students

MWS students are required to take ENVS 806, 821, 827, 990, JSGS 870, GEOG 427 (15 credit units). Remaining credit units are made up of a 6 cu project and 9* cu of course work in a pre-selected track. (*There is a limit of 3 elective cu at the undergraduate level).

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.

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: September 1-11, includes 4 day field trip and three 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: This course is designed for graduate students to improve their understanding of applied environmental and sustainability problems and develop problem-solving techniques and skills. The focus will be on problem identification, exploration of potential causes, defining appropriate boundaries for problem solving, application and adaptation of modeling approaches to understand systems and problems, identification of potential solutions and understanding the implications of solution approaches or remedial measures.

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 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. Scheduled for Term 2 in 2016/2017.

ENVS 827.3 – Breakthroughs in Water Security Research – The purpose of this course is to expose students to the latest research in water security, to connect students to the top research in the field internationally, to help students understand what constitutes world class research and to further develop awareness and understanding of major concepts in water security. Each week will focus on a different sub-field of water security with an attempt to cover a co-equal blend of four thematic areas: hydrology, aquatic science, water policy and water resource engineering. The course structure centers around seminar attendance and then a weekly group discussion focused on key new papers in the field written by seminar speakers. Students will learn the art of journal article reading, how to critique scientific work and what makes for a good paper. The discussion sessions give the students the opportunity to critically evaluate a paper and discuss the topic with the guest speaker and course instructor. Written assignments given to the students by the course instructor will focus on how recent developments in the water security sub-fields can be applied to their own research or professional goals, and to follow up in greater detail on a topic of interest or relevance to them. Scheduled for Term 1 in 2016/2017.

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 the Master of Water Security (MWS) 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 2016/2017.
  • 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. Scheduled for Term 2 in 2016/2017.
  • 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.  Scheduled for Term 2 in 2016/2017.
  • 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. This class will not be offered in 2016/2017.
  • 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. This class will not be offered in 2016/2017.
  • ENVS 824.3 – River Science – This course will teach students the fundamentals of biophysical science as applied in riverine settings. It will begin by examining physical and biological processes that naturally occur in rivers, then layer on top of that understanding the influence of climatic variables (ice and evaporation) and human influences (river channel modifications and contaminant loading). Scheduled for Term 1 in 2016/2017.
  • ENVS 825.3 – Water Resources Management in Cold Regions - This course will expose students to the management of water resources in cold regions. It will primarily focus on the components of river ice, snow and ground ice (permafrost). The students will receive a fundamental understanding of the physical processes of each component and an introduction to the management of each component. A human dimension will also be included to investigate the management implications on northern communities. Scheduled for Term 2 in 2016/2017.
  • ENVS 826.3 – Climate Change – This course explores the science of climate change. Students will learn how the climate system works and the general atmosphere circulation patterns, ocean circulation patterns and climate oscillations such as the El-Niño Southern Oscillation; what factors cause climate to change across different time scales and how those factors interact; how climate has changed in the past; how scientists use models to make predictions about future climate; and the possible consequences of climate change for our planet. Students will learn how climate change today is different from past climate cycles and how satellites and other technologies are revealing the global signals of a changing climate; how addition of CO2 to the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels will influence the climate. Students will gain the scientific basis to analyze and critique policy issues related to global change. The course looks at the connection between human activity and the current warming trend and considers some of the potential social, economic and environmental consequences of climate change. Scheduled for Term 1 in 2016/2017.
  • 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. This class will not be offered in 2016/2017.
  • ENVS 832.3 - Risk Assessment and Negotiation of Environmental Issues – The objectives of this class are to help students develop a comprehensive understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental issues; provide students with an in-depth understanding of the concept of risk, explaining concepts such as relative risks and benefits of human activities; to elucidate the roles and perspectives of different stakeholders such as government, industry, academia, lawyers, lobbyists, etc. that are typically involved in the assessment and management of environmental issues; and to teach students the roles that science and  society have in the assessment and management of environmental issues.  This class will not be offered in 2016/2017.
  • ENVS 881.3 - Environmental Economics and Policy Making - This course will focus on developing a formal understanding of natural resource use and resource and environmental policy using economic models.  The focus on the course will be on renewable resources but with some consideration of the unique characteristics of non-renewable resources. The course will examine a series of natural resource and environmental issues with a priority given to Canadian issues but not excluding issues from other jurisdictions and those global scale environmental issues.  The course will develop detailed analyses of existing and proposed natural resource and environmental policy using the economic framework to evaluate the structure and the efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility of these policies.  Through this approach the student will develop the tools to understand and critically evaluate environmental policy and also build a familiarity with the primary policy measures and tools. Scheduled for Term 1 in 2016/2017.
  • ENVS 898.3 – Co-Management of Northern Ecosystems and Natural Resources – This course explores concepts, trends, opportunities and challenges in the movement towards co-management of natural resources and ecosystems in northern Canada and the circumpolar world. Rapid social and biophysical change characterizes this region, so students will gain an in-depth understanding of how co-management institutions interact with this critical context. Scheduled for Term 2 in 2016/2017.
  • ENVS 828.3 – Isotope Tracers in Catchment Hydrology – This course is an introduction to the principles of stable isotope chemistry as applied to environmental research in the hydrosphere and biosphere, focusing on the use of stable isotope investigative tools in a variety of ecological situations. Scheduled for Term 1 in 2016/2017, offered in a compressed time format.
  • ENVS 898.3 – Qualitative Methods – Bridging theory and practice, this course provides an introduction to qualitative methodologies and methods. Students will develop their ability to articulate terminology, concepts, and criteria; journal using reflexive questions; compare and select methodologies and methods; any apply basic methods of data collection, data management, analysis, and reporting. Scheduled for Term 2 in 2016/2017.

The following classes are offered by academic units outside of SENS – not all classes are offered each year, and students are advised to refer to the registration section in PAWS to find when classes are available.

  • ANTH 806.3 – Anthropological Environments – This course is designed to teach history, theory, and central concerns of Environmental Anthropology at an advanced level. The course covers the breadth of historical development of the sub-discipline internationally, while examining selected topics in depth through a regional focus on northern North America. The course presupposes prior knowledge of social science methods and theories.
  • APMC 830.3 – Advanced Environmental Microbiology – Introduction to the diversity of microorganisms and the dynamics of microbial interactions. Microbial biogeochemistry of specific aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Selective microbial enrichment and isolation. In situ quantification of microbial activity.
  • BIOL 898.3 – Ecological Dimensions of Ecotoxicology - This course examines how principles and theories in ecology can better inform ecotoxicology problems at multiple levels of biological organization (individuals to ecosystems).  Much of the science of this relatively young discipline has traditionally lacked a conceptual basis and major recent advances are being drawn from ecological theories, models and approaches to strengthen the science.  Students will examine current topics and contemporary approaches that add ecological relevance and predictive strength to both field and laboratory ecotoxicology studies.
  • CHE 882.3 – Design of Industrial Waste Treatment Systems – Designed to provide students with fundamental information regarding air and water pollution problems. Procedures for the design of air pollution control systems and wastewater treatment plants are covered. Regulation and legislation associated with air and water pollutions are discussed.
  • CHEP 802.3 - Community and Population Health Research Methods - An introduction to research methods in community health, including quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Recent developments in research, including global health research, indigenous health research, participatory action research, and knowledge translation, are addressed.
  • CHEP 898.3 - Food Systems and Community Health - is an introductory graduate level course on food systems and community health. The emphasis is on understanding the links between the modern industrialized food system, its alternatives and community and population health.
  • The course provides a critical introduction to food systems, both the dominant industrial one and its alternatives. The course will cover topics related to the environmental, social, and health impacts of food systems, and will provide real-world experiences that will allow students to contribute to an on-going food system initiative that aims to improve community health. Students will learn through lectures, small group exercises and presentations, class discussion, media, community-service learning and assignments.
  • GEOG 885.3 - Advanced Applications of Environmental Management - Using a collaborative learning model, this course will analyze theoretical and practical problems associated with defining and evaluating resource and environmental management and its associated strategies.
  • GEOG 886.3 – Advanced Environmental Impact Assessment – A project-based course focusing on emerging concepts and broader applications of environmental assessment principles and practices. Course topics varying from year to year following developments in the field, and may include such topics as cumulative effects assessment, strategic environmental assessment, project scooping, assessment methods and techniques, monitoring and follow-up.
  • GEOG 880.3 – Environmental Geographies – The focus of this course will be on sustainability assessment (SA) and appraisal, and why it is an emerging field in both environmental impact assessment and regional planning. International case examples (Canada and Western Australia) will be examined to understand the principles, frameworks, and tools used in a sustainability assessment, as well as how geographic location or ‘place’ influences the process and its outcomes. The intent is for students to explore how one can ‘operationalize’ sustainability and manage tradeoffs, in a way that is sensitive to a development context.  Prior instruction in environmental impact assessment is helpful, but not a prerequisite.
  • GEOG 898.3 – Integrated Water Resource Management – The process and practice of planning and management for watersheds in a North American context. A focus on water and land use policy and watershed governance structures. Institutional arrangement affecting water management in Canada will be investigated. Topics will include integrated watershed management, watershed plan preparation, and barriers to source water protection.
  • HIST 884.3 – Writing History – This course examines the craft of writing history and other forms of non-fiction by using a workshop approach to improve and enhance student writing skills and provide them with a better understanding and appreciation of the writing craft. Students will develop the tools and skills to write better history by studying the examples of established writers, learning the fundamentals of writing through in-class assignments, and participating in discussions of one another’s work.
  • PUBH 898.3 - Research Methods in Public Health - Research is a systematic undertaking to establish evidence. Although research is a fallible source of knowledge, it is the most sophisticated method of acquiring knowledge to advance the academic disciplines. This course provides fundamental health research skills necessary for the public health professional to work in both research and applied settings. This course will focus on the issues and skill required at each specific stage of the research process and will explore the practical and relevant issues involved in the design, and conduct of research activity. Students will have the opportunity to experience and apply their knowledge through the critical appraisal of published research and the development of a research proposal aimed at addressing a critical public health issue.
  • SLSC 819.3 – Remediation of Contaminated Sites - This course explains how one characterizes a contaminated terrestrial site, the risks associated with that site and identify remediation technologies that will mitigate the risks associated with the contaminated site. It will discuss how contamination interacts with industrial processes to created degraded landscapes and natural processes that help ameliorate this degradation of the ecosystem. Discussion of remediation will focus on the use of in situ and ex situ technologies for contaminated soil ecosystems and how these technologies reduce risk to not only soil, but also human and aquatic receptors.
  • TOX 821.3 – Human Health Chemical Risk Assessment – Human health risk assessment is now playing a major role in the environmental management of chemicals, from both operational and regulatory perspectives. The overall objective of this course is to provide the basic knowledge to conduct, evaluate and interpret risk assessment of chemicals present in the natural and built environments.
  • TOX 840.3 – Wildlife Toxicology – Intended to provide a broad exposure to general principles of terrestrial toxicology, with an emphasis on mammalian, avian and amphibian species. Topics to be covered include: effects of common environmental contaminants on wildlife populations, factors affecting soil toxicity, contaminant bioavailability and fate; common in vitro and in vivo methods to assess toxicity and sublethal exposure (biomarkers) and ecological risk assessment.
  • LAW 498.3 – Negotiations in a Complex Environment – This course will help students gain a deeper understanding of conflict and will develop conflict management strategies and negotiation skills in complex environments. Examples brought by the instructors and by the students themselves would focus on business and organizational settings, and the resolution of conflicting public policy goals, both domestically and internationally. Conflict in these settings is usually characterized by multi-layered issues, involving large numbers of participants with diverse interests and roles.
  • LAW 498.3 – The Fluid State of Water Law in Canada – This seminar will offer students an overview of the fundamentals of Canadian water law as well as a brief outline of the intersection of international and domestic legal water regimes. The first half of the course will explore freshwater quality and quantity problems in Canada and provide students with an understanding of the context and legal framework of Canadian water governance regimes that play out at municipal, provincial and federal levels, including Nunavut and the territories and on the international level. The second half of the seminar will be structured around student presentations of their research papers in progress. Students’ research topics will be selected based on individual student interests in consultation with the instructor. The instructor will provide background readings to the class to support the presentation section of the course.  
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.