Courses

MES Program courses are designed exclusively for MES program students. Students who are not registered in the program may not enroll in MES program courses or workshops.

There are five required courses in the MES program, a series of professional development workshops and a summer co-op work term. Students will take all courses and workshops as scheduled in the first two semesters of the program followed by the work term. There are no elective course options in the MES program.

Students will be provided with course outlines on the first day of classes.

Pillars of Environment & Sustainability

EnvrSust 9012: Planning and Management (0.5 course credit)

In this course, we will explore concepts and applied practices of environmental planning and management through lenses prioritizing sustainability and resilience. Given that environmental planning and management are diverse and multidisciplinary fields, we will broadly explore foundational principles, frameworks, and approaches used in different contexts (e.g., urban, aquatic, terrestrial, etc.). Readings and independent assignments will allow us to explore some topics more in-depth. As modern environmental management challenges involve inputs of resources (e.g., food, water, fuel, etc.) as well as outputs (e.g., pollution, by-products, greenhouse gases, etc.), we will not only explore how environments and resources can be used by humans, but also how they can be affected by humans.

EnvrSust 9013: Building Sustainable Business (0.5 course credit)

Historically, environmental and social issues have been treated as peripheral concerns or additional costs for business driven by regulation. However, the last decade has demonstrated that any perceived separation between social and environmental issues, and financial performance is breaking down.  Markets now take environmental and social investments and performance into account. More specifically, customer, investors, and the public are increasingly asking not only what product or service is being offered, but also how it is done, and whether business can satisfy multi-faceted performance expectations.

For example, environmental and social pressures include supplier working conditions, carbon footprinting, Fair Trade, and environmental stewardship, just to name few. In a nutshell, for business managers, sustainable development focuses on the inter-relationships between financial, social and environmental performance. Many companies are now actively seeking to pull these three together under a competitive strategy that captures the “triple bottom line.” This multi-dimensional conceptualization of performance opens avenues to new customers and can transform traditional industries. Global firms are increasingly being redefined by their ecological performance, and markets are rewarding those who develop green products and services, factor in social needs along the supply chain, and balance multiple objectives. Customers also must sort through confusing claims, and can punish those who appear to pay only lip service or misrepresent their sustainability initiatives. Changing environmental and social expectations encourage both incremental and radical innovations – not just within the product or process, but also in strategies, business models, supply chains, and industry partnerships.

EnvrSust 9014: Ecosystem Health and Environmental Analysis (0.5 course credit)

Sustainable development and environmental sciences deal directly with the environmental determinants of health.  Projects, contacts, or initiatives undertaken by MES practitioners will likely start with an assessment of the general health of an ecosystem or a population and then be required to maintain or remediate the situation back to the unperturbed, balanced natural state. Thus you are making judgments on the “health” of an ecosystem or population. In “Ecosystem Health” we will explore the theory and practice of measuring and implementing projects that deal with the interrelationships between humans and all aspects of their environment, including disease, health and well being.  In this context, the health of all parts and individual species of the ecosystem is important, particularly where illness is due to exposures to pollutant chemicals or biological agents in the environment.
By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • review and critique modern determinants of health, with an emphasis on problems that lead to human illness or community health issues;
  • create an assessment of the wellness and sustainability of specific environmental projects;
  • actuate the concept of community research partnerships into research projects on the environment and sustainability; and
  • implement a multi-disciplinary or trans-disciplinary approach to the study of complex environmental problems associated with community or human health issues.

The Environmental Analysis component of the course we will explore both the theory and practice of sourcing, examining and critically analyzing environmental data. The course has a major focus on developing applied and practical skills in data visualization, and data analysis. We will also aim to deepen our understanding of major environmental problems and their underlying causes by exploring datasets relevant to real-world environmental issues.  The course is fast-paced and designed to hone your problem-solving and decision-making skills through a mix of individual and collaborative group projects.

EnvrSust 9015: Engineering Solutions (0.5 course credit)

This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the basic fundamentals of environmental science and engineering and their synergistic role for the maintenance of a healthy and sustainable environment. Several case studies will be studied and analyzed, including carbon dioxide emissions, global warming, air and water pollution control, solid waste management and treatment, renewable energy resources, world population and environmental sustainability issues.


By the end of this course, you will have an understanding of:

  • population growth kinetics and environmental sustainability;
  • problem solving with respect to calculations of energy and mass balances;
  • problem solving with respect to waste-water treatment and applications;
  • problem solving with respect to pollution emissions and reduction strategies and technologies;
  • opportunities to use biological wastes as raw materials in biochemical processes to produce value-added commercial products; and
  • opportunities to use biological processes and economic analysis for the production of renewable energy and biofuels (e.g., bioethanol, biodiesel, methane, hydrogen gas).

Foundations of Sustainability

EnvrSust 9011: Foundations of Sustainability (0.5 course credit)

This course will expose students to the sustainable development tools in decisions making and environmental management from conceptual perspective lens taking into consideration and informed by, environmental, socio and economical aspects. The course considers the concepts of sustainable development in topics ranging from strategic macro level - integrated water resources management, cumulative effects, land use planning, and strategic environmental assessment to local site specific developments - industrial, commercial, and urban development. Furthermore, introduces new theories and advancement in environmental planning and management - climate change, environmental justice/equity, and traditional environmental knowledge. Case studies will include Canada and abroad. 

The course objectives are to expose, build and develop student’s ability to:

  • Strategically encompass the overarching principles of sustainable development within the environmental planning and management conceptual framework; and apply these principle avenues and multi- disciplinary sciences effectively in their areas of expertise and professional careers
  • Describe sustainable development concepts, methods, and frameworks; and Interrelate provincial, national and international environmental policies and governance
  • Distinguish and understand the fundamentals of environmental/strategic assessment; the key role of experts, stakeholders, government, and other stakeholders; and the role of economic and social valuation of ecosystems
  • Incorporate the principles of eco-justice and traditional environmental knowledge in deliberation and decision making
  • Critically assess local, regional and global impacts of decision-making and design

Consulting Project

EnvrSust 9200: Consulting Project (1.0 course credit)

The purpose of this course is to give students an opportunity to work with the Client in a non-academic, applied setting.  Members of each Consulting Group will jointly undertake environmental research.  Upon completion of the course, each Consulting Group will make a formal presentation of their research findings and recommendations and will provide their Client with a professional-quality report.


Success in this course requires each student to undertake both secondary and primary research.  Secondary research is defined here as a review of data, including documents, that have been published in some form, such as scholarly books and articles, industry or government reports, and newspaper articles.  Primary research means the collection and analysis of quantitative and/or qualitative data, including verbal or written statements from people, or from governmental or other documents.


The course Instructor will present the projects and students will compete for the projects. 


By the end of the course, you should have gained experience to:

  • work with a Client in a non-academic setting;
  • work as a member of a research team that collectively plans and carries out research and writing tasks;
  • plan and organize use of your time in co-ordination with others;
  • define/negotiate a research question, hypothesis and/or terms of reference with the Client and course Instructor;
  • conduct detailed and comprehensive research of the secondary literature on a given topic;
  • develop a methodology for primary research that will augment the secondary literature;
  • conduct primary research;
  • plan and write a report that presents secondary and primary research findings, analysis and recommendations based upon those findings;
  • present a verbal report to the Client; and
  • carry a major written document through all the stages of organization, drafting, revisions, editing, copy-editing, formatting and printing.

Critical Skills of an Environmental Professional

2021-2022 Professional Development Workshops*

  • Working in a Team Setting
  • Professional Writing
  • Environmental Law and Management
  • Change Management
  • Life Cycle Assessment and the Circular Economy
  • Sustainable Buildings
  • Waste Management
  • Corporate Responsibility and GHG Accounting
  • GIS Primer
  • Community Engagement

*This listing is indicative of the workshops offered each year; however, offerings may change from year to year.   

Cooperative Education Experience

EnvrSust 9300: Cooperative Education Experience (Co-op) (2.5 course credits)

Cooperative education (co-op) is a program through which students gain professional work experience related to their Master of Environment & Sustainability graduate program and career objectives. The MES co-op is a mandatory component of the MES Program, and carries a 2.5 credit weight. The MES co-op provides students with the skills and experience needed to compete for an entry-level position as an environmental professional in industry, a non-governmental organization, or a government department.  Students will be employed between May 1 and August 30th. Upon completion of the MES co-op, students will be required to present their technical experiences to representatives of the MES program through the submission of a written technical report, followed by a pre-recorded video presentation. 
In this course, students will:

  • develop cover letter and resume writing skills;
  • learn about different interview styles and how to prepare for them;
  • improve professional business writing and presentation skills; and
  • apply environmental science knowledge to an employment setting.

* Note on paid co-op work terms: The MES program cannot guarantee summer co-ops position, but will make every effort to assist students in obtaining suitable co-op work term employment.