- News & Events
- Current undergraduates
- SFU Environmental Science Student Union
- Tackling Environmental Problems
- Spring 2020
- Spring 2021
- Spring 2022
- Prospective Students
What is a concentration?
There are many aspects of Environmental Science to learn about, and some students want to dive deeper into the specific subjects they are most interested in. Other students have a wide range of interests within Environmental Science that they would like to explore. The five concentrations in this program allow you to customize your education and study the aspect of Environmental Science that is most engaging to you!
As an Environmental Science undergraduate student, you will automatically be enrolled in the General concentration. You will have the option to either complete your degree in the General concentration or choose any one of the other four areas of specific concentration. Concentrations offer course selections tailored to foster specialized skills and knowledge, and so Honours students must choose a specific concentration to immerse themselves into the research area that interests them most.
Please book an appointment with your advisor via the following Advising Link to discuss the best possible options.
Declaring your concentration
When should I declare my concentration?
All students start the program in the General Environmental Science Concentration. If you want to complete your degree in any of the other five areas of specific concentration, you should declare as soon as possible. Students are recommended to declare specific concentrations by the end of their second year.
Why should I declare my concentration?
If you don't want to continue in the General Environmental Science Concentration, declaring allows you to have easier course planning and a better planned graduation date. Declaring your concentration also allows you to dive deeper into the area of Environmental Science that you are passionate about.
How can I declare my concentration?
Declaring your concentration is now as easy as clicking a button. All you have to do is submit the following Concentration Declaration Form. Before declaring your concentration, please review the concentration requirements listed below.
Areas of Concentration
Environmental Science General Concentration
This concentration is for students who wish to explore the broad field of environmental science, without specializing in any one area. This provides students with the flexibility to pursue their own interests across environmental disciplines.
This concentration aims to educate on the numerous intersections of the many facets of environmental science, as directed by the student’s interests.
Students receive a robust general science education with a combination of advanced training options possible in the various biological systems, water cycles, earth systems, and statistical data analysis that our other concentrations are dedicated towards. Required training builds skills in quantitative analysis, lab and field methods in environmental science, and group-based projects centered in real-world collaborations.
In addition, students explore the social factors at work in environmental policy and planning decisions, and the role that the scientist plays among the many professionals in the natural resources sector.
Upon completion students will attain a well-rounded environmental education in the areas of their greatest interests and apply their knowledge towards questions of human impacts on the environment, climate change, land use, the intersections between them, and much more.
Applied Biology Concentration
This concentration is for students interested in the impacts of human activities on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. This concentration is accredited by the British Columbia College of Applied Biology for the Registered Biologist (RPBio) designation.
Students receive an advanced understanding of maintenance and evolution of biological diversity, management of vulnerable populations, and how ecosystems are affected by factors such as human activities, interactions among species, species diversity and physical environmental conditions.
Students develop skills in experimental design and quantitative methods of data analysis such as species classification, geospatial analysis, population modeling, and statistical methods.
Students can learn to design and implement surveys to examine abundance and biodiversity of ecosystems using tools such as remote sensing to extract data on land use. Basic statistical analyses and interpretation models are used to predict the population trends, describe communities, and evaluate available management options.
Graduates will find their degree highly applicable for the private and government sectors including the design and implementation of environmental impact assessments and monitoring studies.
Environmental earth systems concentration
This concentration is for students interested in an integrative understanding of environmental processes and earth systems. Students develop technical skills in quantitative research and use technology to analyze spatial data.
Students receive an advanced understanding of Earth’s spheres and their interactions in the form of carbon, nutrient and water cycles, glacial environments and landforms, biodiversity, and weather and climate. Impacts of human activities on these spheres such as carbon emissions and climate change, mining and logging, threats to biodiversity and ways of addressing those concerns such as rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems are explored in depth.
Student will conduct quantitative analyses of changes in one or more of Earth's systems using mathematical or statistical modeling, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and field/lab methods.
This concentration facilitates hands-on experience in data collection using field techniques such as surveying and sample processing, as well analysis of collected data to identify interactions among the Earth’s spheres using lab methods such as geographic information systems to visualize data through digital maps or examining remote sensing studies.
Graduates would be well suited for employment in fields such as environmental impact analyses, land use planning, and habitat restoration. Graduates would also have an excellent basis for going on to undertake graduate studies in physical geography and related pure and applied sciences, such as planning and resource management.
This concentration is for students interested in environmental data analysis, sampling design and monitoring.
This concentration applies statistical and quantitative knowledge to environmental problems. It encourages design of monitoring programs for environmental data collection, and development of theoretical justifications of statistical decisions with attention to law, ethics, and economy.
Students apply statistical and quantitative knowledge including data science and big data to real-world environmental problems using monitoring programs to analyze surveys and design experiments.
The course content will build proficiency in statistical methods and model selection techniques within statistical software for analyzing environmental data. Lab processes and protocols from multiple disciplines are used to produce and analyze data that vary over time and space.
Graduates will be capable of designing, monitoring and developing complex experimental designs related to current environmental issues. This concentration also prepares students for advanced studies that utilize statistical methodology such as quantitative studies that examine the effects of pollutants on human and environmental health.
Water Science Concentration
This concentration is for students interested in water resources in the context of Earth’s changing climate. Students receive training in hydrology, climatology, glaciology and aquatic sciences.
In this concentration, students explore the role of policy and planning in mitigating and protecting environmental impacts of human actions on Earth’s water resources in a changing climate.
Quantitative methods of data analysis through estimating uncertainty, measurement of water use changes, water quality and assessment of aquatic ecosystem health are central to the water science concentration.
Upon completion, students will possess skills in quantitative methods of data analysis and interpretation in aspects of the Earth's water system, measurement of water fluxes and use, and assessment of aquatic ecosystem health.
Graduates will have the science-based training to contribute to decision-making about water management and water policy. They will be able to offer a broader perspective on water management issues as compared to discipline-specific scientists in hydrology, hydrogeology, climatology, and aquatic science.