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Field Methods for Environmental Science

Course Code: SCIE 2207
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Environmental Science
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab, Field Experience
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course introduces students to work in the field, where data are collected and observations made. The course allows students to learn a number of environmental field skills, including: soil, mineral and rock description and classification; sampling and testing methods for water quality and invertebrate assemblage; mapping methods and air photo interpretation. Most work will take place in fieldtrip situations, with the students organized as teams.

Course Content

  1. Lecture topics may include:
    • Introduction:  Gathering data for scientific analysis, safety.
    • Recording techniques for scientific field data.
    • Geological diagrams (columns, cross-sections, maps).
    • Overview of soils, rocks, minerals.
    • Water quality sampling techniques.
    • Sampling for invertebrates.
    • Groundwater observations.
    • Air photo interpretation.
  2. Field trip / Lab topics may include:
    • Logging of a vertical section of rock and soil.
    • Field relationships and structure.
  3. Air photo interpretation of soil, lithology, water bodies and vegetation, using pocket and desktop stereoscopes and topographic maps.
  4. Geologic mapping of rocks and soils.
  5. Groundwater sampling and interpretation, using piezometers.
  6. Sweep-net sampling of vegetated areas.
  7. Sampling and testing of water bodies, including turbidity, pH, invertebrates, TOC, and others.
  8. Mapping of natural hazards and vegetal cover.
  9. Use of GPS and compass.
  10. Identification of organisms.
  11. Sampling of soils, sediments, and rock.  Includes use of hand-corer.

Methods of Instruction

Instruction will primarily utilize field trips with preparatory lectures, and occasional labs.  Text and other readings will be assigned.

Means of Assessment

Field/lab reports (8) 80%
Quizzes (4) 20%

Learning Outcomes

This course is designed to supplement and extend previous education in Biology, Environmental Science, and Geology.

The student will be able to:

  1. Identify environmental features in the field.
  2. Carry out simple environmental measurements, and record them on graphs and tables.
  3. Observe and collect simple field information, and record the information on maps, cross-sections and columns.
  4. Plan, organize and lead simple one-day field parties.
  5. Read, interpret, take bearings from, and locate features on a topographic map.
  6. Develop teamwork skills through working in groups.

course prerequisites

BIOL 1110, GEOL 1120, GEOL 1121, SCIE 1107

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.