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Department of Geography | Faculty of Environment Simon Fraser University Calendar | Summer 2023

Environmental Specialty Major

Bachelor of Arts

Admission to this program has been suspended effective Summer 2019.

Students must complete 120 units, including 45 upper division units.

Admission Requirements

Admission to this program has been suspended effective Summer 2019.

Program Requirements

Lower Division Requirements

Students complete a total of 21 units, including all of

GEOG 100 - Our World: Introducing Human Geography (3)

A geographical introduction to how humans shape our world, with attention also given to how it shapes us. Themes may include: culture, economic activities, environmental change, globalization, politics, population, resources, and urbanization. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
OL01 Leanne Roderick
GEOG 111 - Earth Systems (3)

An introduction to landforms, climates, soils and vegetation; their origins, distributions, interrelationships and roles in the ecosystem. Laboratory work and field trips are included. Breadth-Science.

GEOG 215 - The Biosphere (3)

An introduction to the planetary biosphere, its living organisms, and their interactions with each other and the Earth system. Prerequisite: GEOG 111.

GEOG 221 - Economic Worlds (3)

The fundamentals of economics geography, the study of the forces that shape the arrangement of economic activity in the real world. Prerequisite: GEOG 100. Breadth-Social Sciences.

GEOG 241 - People, Place, Society (3)

An introduction to key concepts and contexts in contemporary geographical approaches to social practices, meanings, and struggles. Prerequisite: One of GEOG 100, INDG 101, SA 101, or SA 150. Breadth-Social Sciences.

REM 100 - Global Change (3)

This course provides students with an overview of global environmental change and its causes from a social science perspective, historically and at the present time. Population growth, an increasing ecological footprint and changes in ideology, social organization, economy and technology will be critically reviewed. New ways of thinking in natural and social science will be considered in relation to specific issues such as land, soil and food; energy, raw materials and solid waste; air pollution and transportation; water, oceans and fisheries; climate change; forestry and biodiversity; urbanization, and alternative futures. Breadth-Social Sciences.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
OL01 Alexander Cancelli

and one of

GEOG 251 - Quantitative Geography (3)

An introduction to basic quantitative techniques for the collection of geographic data. Topics include describing data, gathering samples, theoretical distributions, linking samples and populations, testing significance, and exploring spatial relationships all within practical, real-world application contexts. Prerequisite: GEOG 100 or 111. Quantitative.

GEOG 253 - Introduction to Remote Sensing (3)

An introduction to the theories and practices of remote sensing, including sensors and platforms, image collection, preliminary image analysis and interpretation, and a review of remote sensing applications in environmental monitoring and resource management. Prerequisite: GEOG 111. Quantitative/Breadth-Science.

GEOG 255 - Geographical Information Science I (3)

A basic overview of Geographical Information Systems and Science; GIS software, hardware, data structures and models; spatial data, operations and algorithms; practical applications and limitations. Prerequisite: GEOG 100 or 111 or permission of instructor. Students with credit for GEOG 354 may not take this course for further credit. Quantitative.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
D100 Shivanand Balram
Tu, Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
WMC 3210, Burnaby
D101 We, Fr 8:30 AM – 10:20 AM
AQ 2109, Burnaby
D102 We, Fr 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
AQ 2109, Burnaby
D103 We, Fr 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
AQ 2109, Burnaby

Upper Division Requirements

Students complete a minimum total of 32 upper division units, including four of the following core courses

GEOG 377 - Environmental History (4)

Examines the reciprocal influences between humans and nature through time. Topics may include settlement, agriculture, technology, politics, urbanization, science, and conservation. Prerequisite: At least 45 units, including GEOG 100 or REM 100. Students with credit for HIST 377 may not take this course for further credit.

GEOG 382 - World on the Move (4)

The world is on the move. Migrants seeking better opportunities cross paths with refugees fleeing persecution. Some are helped and welcomed, many encounter barriers and threats, while identities, including class, race, gender, sexuality, mediate their prospects. This course's geographic perspective clarifies these complexities by combining conceptual analyses with contemporary cases. Prerequisite: At least 45 units, including GEOG 100.

GEOG 385 - Food and the City (4)

An exploration of how food is related to cities, giving particular attention to the culture and politics of food production, distribution, and consumption. Prerequisite: At least 45 units, including GEOG 100 or REM 100.

GEOG 389W - Nature and Society (4)

Examines the relationship between nature and society, covering the dominant geographical approaches to human-environment interaction, and their social, spatial, and political economic effects. Prerequisite: At least 45 units, including GEOG 100 or REM 100. Writing.

REM 311 - Applied Ecology (3)

Builds on foundational ecological concepts to study the ecological processes that govern the dynamics of populations. Students will use quantitative models to examine the role of data, variability, uncertainty, and assumptions in science and decision making. Students will learn how to improve the sustainable use of natural capital by applying scientific data, ecological theory, ecological models, critical thinking, and Adaptive Management to societal decisions. Prerequisite: REM 100 or EVSC 100; BISC 204 or GEOG 215 or REM 211; STAT 201 or STAT 203 or STAT 205 or GEOG 251 or equivalent. Recommended: REM 225. Quantitative.

and one of

GEOG 311 - Hydrology (4)

Introduction to the hydrologic cycle, with an emphasis on the hydrology of British Columbia; description and analysis of the processes of water movement and storage measurements and analysis of hydrologic data. Prerequisite: GEOG 213 or 214; GEOG 251 or one of STAT 201, 203 (formerly 103), 205, or 270. Quantitative.

GEOG 312 - Geography of Natural Hazards (4)

An exploration of human response to our hazardous Earth. The dynamic causes of natural hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides and floods will be illustrated. Students will gain an appreciation for how humans perceive, predict, and recover from hazards and how their effects may be reduced. Prerequisite: One of GEOG 100, 104 or 111 or one of EASC 101 or 104. Breadth-Social Sci/Science.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
OL01 Andrew Perkins
GEOG 313 - River Geomorphology (4)

Intermediate analysis in fluvial and coastal geomorphology with particular reference to British Columbia. Prerequisite: GEOG 213, or both EASC 209W and EASC 304. Quantitative.

GEOG 314 - The Climate System (4)

A survey of the climate system, with emphasis on the interactions among its components; radiation, energy and water balances; carbon cycle; climate sensitivity and feedbacks; natural and human-induced climate change. Prerequisite: GEOG 214. Quantitative.

GEOG 315 - World Ecosystems (4)

Distribution, structure, function, and dynamics of the world's major biomes. Attention to comparative aspects among terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and to environmental problems associated with the biomes. Prerequisite: GEOG 215 or BISC 204.

GEOG 316 - Global Biogeochemical and Water Cycles (4)

Introduction to the cycling of essential chemical elements through ecosystems. Interactions among biological, hydrological, and geological controls on the structure and function of ecosystems and the spatial-temporal scales of elemental cycling are emphasized. Environmental problems resulting from disturbance to natural equilibria in the elemental cycles are examined. Prerequisite: GEOG 215 or BISC 204 or permission of the instructor. Quantitative.

GEOG 317 - Soil Science (4)

An introduction to the study of soils: physical, chemical and biological properties of soils; soil formation, description, classification, survey and use. Field and laboratory techniques of soil analysis. Prerequisite: One of GEOG 213, 214, 215, or CHEM 121. Students with credit for GEOG 318 may not take this course for further credit.

and one of

GEOG 351 - Multimedia Cartography (4)

Elements of cartographic analysis, design and visualization, with an emphasis on digital mapping, animation techniques, cartographic software and internet mapping. Prerequisite: GEOG 255. Quantitative.

GEOG 352 - Spatial Analysis (4)

Advanced quantitative techniques for spatial analysis of geographic data and patterns. Topics include geostatistics, spatial interpolation, autocorrelation, kriging, and their use in geographic problem solving with spatial analysis software. Prerequisite: GEOG 251 or one of STAT 201, 203 (formerly 103), 205, or 270. Quantitative.

GEOG 353 - Advanced Remote Sensing (4)

Advanced remote sensing principles and data processing techniques, including image correction and enhancement, advanced image analysis and information extraction, land cover classification and change detection, and integration of remote sensing and GIS. Prerequisite: GEOG 253. Quantitative.

GEOG 355 - Geographical Information Science II (4)

An examination of technical components of GIS. Topics include spatial representations, generalization and data management; computational algebra and set theory; digital surfaces and terrain models. Prerequisite: GEOG 255. Quantitative.

GEOG 356 - 3D GIScience (4)

Introduction to 3D spatial data, 3D analysis, and 3D visualization for spatial problems. Students will gain skills in 3D aspects of GIScience concepts; data generation and use; analysis and simulation; visualization and its use for interpretation and communication. Prerequisite: GEOG 255.

and one of

GEOG 432 - Problems in Environmental History (4)

An investigation into the major themes and arguments in the environmental histories of North America, emphasizing how different individuals and groups have used, perceived, and managed their environments over time. Prerequisite: 60 units including eight of upper division geography. Students with credit for HIST 432 or HIST 485 in 2001-3 may not take this course for further credit.

GEOG 445 - Resource Planning (4)

This course introduces the student to the principles and practices of resource planning within a Canadian context. Special attention is paid to land-use planning as it relates to major resource sectors. Prerequisite: One of GEOG 322, 363, 383, or 389.

GEOG 449 - City and Environment (4)

The city as human-natural system; its processes and interactions in urban environmental policy and practice; with attention to historical and theoretical context. Prerequisite: 60 units and one of GEOG 362, 363, SCD 301 or SD 381.

REM 445 - Environmental Risk Assessment (4)

Students receive theory and practical experience in the control and management of hazardous substances in the environment. This includes the application of techniques used to assess toxicological, ecological and human health risks of contaminants within the current regulatory framework. Prerequisite: MATH 151 or 154 or 157; STAT 201 or 203 or 205 or GEOG 251 or equivalent; and 60 units.

REM 471 - Forest Ecosystem Management (4)

Forests are critical components of the earth system and provide diverse ecological services. They are also a source of conflict regarding their conservation and use. Students will examine the problems of managing forest ecosystems for a variety of societal goals and objectives. We begin by examining the ecological characteristics of forest ecosystems and follow with a focus on the objectives and tools of forest management. The final section of the course will examine institutions, economics, and policy related to forests, with a focus on British Columbia's historical and current management issues. This course will involve lectures, group discussions, field trips, and exercises. Prerequisite: One of REM 100, or GEOG 100 or 111, or EVSC 100 or BISC 102; and 45 units.

and additional upper division (300 and 400 division) units in geography to total the required 32 units minimum.

Writing, Quantitative, and Breadth Requirements

Students admitted to Simon Fraser University beginning in the fall 2006 term must meet writing, quantitative and breadth requirements as part of any degree program they may undertake. See Writing, Quantitative, and Breadth Requirements for university-wide information.

WQB Graduation Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required to earn W, Q or B credit



W - Writing


Must include at least one upper division course, taken at Simon Fraser University within the student’s major subject
Q - Quantitative


Q courses may be lower or upper division
B - Breadth


Designated Breadth Must be outside the student’s major subject, and may be lower or upper division
6 units Social Sciences: B-Soc
6 units Humanities: B-Hum
6 units Sciences: B-Sci


Additional Breadth 6 units outside the student’s major subject (may or may not be B-designated courses, and will likely help fulfil individual degree program requirements)

Students choosing to complete a joint major, joint honours, double major, two extended minors, an extended minor and a minor, or two minors may satisfy the breadth requirements (designated or not designated) with courses completed in either one or both program areas.


Residency Requirements and Transfer Credit

  • At least half of the program's total units must be earned through Simon Fraser University study.
  • At least two thirds of the program's total upper division units must be earned through Simon Fraser University study.

Elective Courses

In addition to the courses listed above, students should consult an academic advisor to plan the remaining required elective courses.