Introduction to Environmental Science

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
SCIE 1107
Introduction to Environmental Science
Environmental Science
Science & Technology
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 hours lecture / 1 ½ hours laboratory 1 ½ hours field experience
Method Of Instruction
Field Experience
Methods Of Instruction
  1. The primary mode of instruction will involve lectures and laboratories.
  2. Several field trips will be scheduled during the semester and occasional weekend field trips may be included.
  3. Readings will be assigned to supplement lectures.
  4. Audio-visual aids will be used where appropriate.
  5. Guest lecturers may be used periodically.
Course Description
Within the framework of marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, this course considers the characteristics of the natural environment and in particular the potential for environmental destruction. Questions such as the disposal of toxic wastes, natural hazards (landslides, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes), resource exploitation and land use planning are discussed with special emphasis, through fieldwork, on the local or regional environment. This course is specifically designed for students with little or not background in science.
Course Content

Lecture Topics

  1. Introduction – The Environment
  2. Ecosystems Overview – Freshwater/Marine/Terrestrial
  3. Nature of the Physical Earth / Earth Materials (rocks, minerals, soils)
  4. Freshwater Ecosystems:
  • Fluvial geomorphology
  • Lacustrine ecology
  • River ecology
  • Reservoir ecology
  • Case Study 1 – Hydroelectric Energy
  • Groundwater geomorphology
  • Toxic/hazardous waste disposal
  • Case Study 2 – Lower Mainland Waste Disposal/Water Pollution
  • Marine Ecosystems:
    • Coastal geomorphology / coastline engineering
    • Intertidal / subtidal / pelagic / estuarine habitats
    • Physical oceanography
  • Case Study 3 – The Fraser Delta
  • Terrestrial Ecosystems:
    • Biomes
    • Forest ecosystems
    • Palaeobotany
    • Glacial Geomorphology
  • Case Study 4 – Spruce Budworm / Clear-cut logging techniques
  • Natural Hazards
    • Earthquakes
    • Volcanoes
    • Effect on ecosystem
  • Case Study 5 – Mt. St. Helens
  • Land Use Planning
    • Parks
    • Wildlife management
    • Urbanization
  • Case Study 6 – Boundary Bay / Reifel Wildlife Refuge
  • Natural Resources – Renewable / non renewable
  • Case Study 7 – Global problems with natural resource depletion
  • Laboratory Topics

    1. Geology
    • Rocks and mineral identification
    • Topographic maps
    • Fluvial geomorphology
    • Groundwater / hydrology
    • Palaeobotany
    • Land use – site selection
    • Coastlines
    • Glaciation
  • Biology
    • Plant identification
    • Sampling forest ecosystems
    • Sampling freshwater ecosystems
    • Intertidal sampling

    Field Trip Sites

    1. Lions Bay / Squamish Highway
    2. Boundary Bay / Burns Bog
    3. Point Grey
    4. Fraser River – boat trip
    5. Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Garibaldi
    6. Reifel Wildlife Refuge
    7. Iona Island sewage treatment
    8. Fisheries Research Lab
    Learning Outcomes

    Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

    1. Show an understanding of the components and dynamics of an ecosystem.
    2. Show an understanding of the distinctions between major biotic and abiotic characteristics of marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems.
    3. Show an understanding of the interaction between people and the physical/biological environment in which they live and of the problems produced by the increasing encroachment on that environment.
    4. Describe the geomorphological processes operating in terrestrial and marine environments and identify the more common landforms produced by these processes.
    5. Show an understanding of the processes involved in the exploitation of natural resources, both renewable and non renewable, and of the potential detrimental effects of such exploitation.
    6. Describe the problems and possible solutions associated with the disposal of toxic and hazardous wastes.
    7. Discuss the causes of natural hazards and their effect on the stability of ecosystems and on patterns of human settlement.
    8. Discuss the impact of the exploitation of various energy sources on the environment and the relative merits of alternative energy sources.
    9. Show an understanding of the effects of urbanization on the natural environment and of the scientific, social and political considerations required for land use planning.
    10. Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts described above in the context of local or regional environmental problems.
    11. Show an understanding of some of the potential global environmental crises.
    12. Demonstrate an understanding of environmental regulation.
    Means of Assessment
    Mid-term exam 30%
    Term projects (3) 40%
    Final exam 30%
    Textbook Materials

    Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

    Miller, G. T. Jr., Living in the Environment: An Introduction to Environmental Science, 4th Edition, Wadsworth Inc., 1985.