Earth Sciences

The Department of Earth Sciences offers three 3-credit courses at the 100-level:

ESCI 171 – Understanding the Earth
ESCI 172 – Environment, Climate, and Resources
ESCI 173 – Natural Hazards

Together, ESCI 171 or 173, and 172 provide the 6 credits of foundational course material for further study in Earth Sciences. These courses may also be electives in any program, other than the Diploma in Engineering.

Students should note that ESCI 171 is not a prerequisite for 172, so those looking for a 3-credit elective course in second term could register for ESCI 172 without having completed 171 in first term.

There is no lab component for either ESCI 171 or 172, though there is a bi-weekly two-hour tutorial for each (6 two-hour tutorials per term).

Aquatic Resources Students
ESCI 171 is a required core course for all students in the Interdisciplinary Studies in Aquatic Resources program. Normally, ISAR students do not take ESCI 172. For upper-level Earth Sciences courses, ESCI 171 and AQUA 101/102 fulfill the prerequisite requirements.

All Other Students
ESCI 171 or 173; and 172 are required for an Earth Sciences major, advanced major, or honours program in the Bachelor of Science degree, and for an Earth Sciences minor.

If you intend a major, advanced major or honours degree in ESCI it is important to know that there are 3 program streams (Geoscience, Earth Science, Environmental Science). For the Geoscience stream, students need to take ESCI 171 and 172. For the Earth Sciences stream, students need to take either ESCI 171 or 173; and ESCI 172. For the Environmental Science stream, students need 6 credits from 2 of the following groups: ESCI 172, 273 or 274; CLEN 101, 102; ESCI 171 or 173.

These two courses can also form the 6-credit base of a pair in the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Business Administration, and Music degrees.

ESCI 171 or ESCI 173; or 172 are prerequisites for all other courses in the department, other than 273 and 274.  Please see the Academic Calendar for specific pre-requisites for upper level ESCI courses. 

Course Descriptions from the Current Academic Calendar:

171   Understanding the Earth
An introduction to the study of rocks and minerals and the materials that make up planet Earth; the Earth’s origin and internal structure and composition; the plate tectonic and continental drift theory, crustal processes (the early history of the Earth and its atmosphere, evolution and extinction of life forms; composition and structure of the Earth, origin of continents, oceans, volcanoes, earthquakes, mountains), crustal deformation and mountain building; resources from earth. Three credits and one-hour tutorial.

172 Environment, Climate, and Resources
An introductory treatment of the processes driving Earth’s ocean, atmosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere. Course includes study of the environment and problems such as soil erosion, ozone layer, waste disposal, Earth’s energy resources (solar, geothermal, etc.), surface and ground waters, water quality in humanity’s future, an introduction to biogeochemical cycles, and a current examination of climate change, future scenarios and issues of impact, migration and adaptation to climate change. Three credits and one-hour tutorial.

173 Natural Hazards
An introduction to the processes leading to natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. This course will explore the geophysical and geological processes behinds such events, their impacts on human society, the historical reasons of why some of these events collide with human settlements more often than others, historical and present occurrences, and how to potentially minimize negative consequences from these catastrophic events. Three credits.


Please refer to Section 9.14 Earth Sciences in the Academic Calendar.

Click here to go to the Earth Sciences department webpage.