Program Structure

The interdisciplinary Master’s of Environmental Sustainability combines economics, science, law and policy to provide graduates with the skills they need to create effective policy solutions to today’s complex environmental sustainability problems.

Students in the master’s program have the option of choosing to work on either a Capstone Project with research paper (12 months) or a Thesis Project (24 months).

The program begins in September for all students. Students must register full-time.

The program takes a very experiential approach with a week-long orientation program, where students meet over 20 sustainability professionals; Capstone project that allows students to work on an environmental sustainability challenge with an organization in Ottawa; and the Professional skills course.

The Institute of the Environment, through its research and policy network, SMART Prosperity Institute (SPI), organises research seminars offered by experts in environmental sustainability. The program also offers co-op job opportunities.

Note that the program is currently only offered in English. According to the University of Ottawa’s academic regulation on bilingualism, all students have the right to produce their written work and to answer examination questions in the official language of their choice, regardless of the course’s language of instruction.

Program Progression

The program is built around three distinct phases, each developed to augment learning and enhance practical application as the program progresses.

  • Build Foundations
  • Integrate
  • Apply

Program Requirements

MSc with research paper (30 units):

8 compulsory courses (21 units) (Suite of four Foundational Knowledge courses: EVD5106, EVD5113, EVD5121, EVD5122; plus EVD5109, EVD5114, EVD5111, and EVD5123)

1 elective course (3 units)

Research paper (EVD6999) (6 units)

MSc with thesis (18 units):

5 compulsory courses (12 units): Suite of four Foundational Knowledge courses: EVD5106, EVD5113, EVD5121, EVD5122; and EVD5114

1 course out of the following (3 units): EVD5109 or EVD5123

1 elective course* (3 units)

Thesis Proposal (EVD7997)

MSc Thesis (EVD7999)

*Students who choose to complete both EVD5109 and EVD5123 do not need to complete 3 elective credits.

Courses

The courses students take depend on whether they are in the Capstone with Research Paper or Thesis option.

Capstone with Research Paper option: 8 compulsory courses + 1 elective course

Compulsory courses:

  • Building a Common Foundation
    • EVD5121 Foundations of Environmental Science 1 (3 un.)
    • EVD5122 Foundations of Environmental Economics 1 (3 un.)
    • EVD5106 Foundations of Environmental Law (1.5 un.)
    • EVD5113 Foundations of Environmental Policy (3 un.)
  • Integrate
    • EVD5123 Evidence Synthesis and Evaluation (3 un.)
    • EVD5109 Applied Environmental Sustainability (3 un.)
  • Apply
    • EVD5114 Professional Skills for Environmental Sustainability (1.5 un.)
    • EVD5111 Capstone Seminar in Environmental Sustainability (3 un.)
    • EVD6999 Research Paper (6 un.)

Thesis option: 6 compulsory courses + 1 elective course

Compulsory courses:

  • Build Foundations
    • EVD5121 Foundations of Environmental Science 1 (3 un.)
    • EVD5122 Foundations of Environmental Economics 1 (3 un.)
    • EVD5106 Foundations of Environmental Law (1.5 un.)
    • EVD5113 Foundations of Environmental Policy (3 un.)
  • Integrate and apply
    • EVD5114 Professional Skills for Environmental Sustainability (1.5 un.), and
    • EVD5109 Applied Environmental Sustainability (3 un.), or
    • EVD5123 Evidence Synthesis and Evaluation (3 un.)
    • EVD7997 Thesis Proposal
    • EVD7999 Master’s Thesis
  • Examples of Elective Courses

Course Descriptions

BUILD FOUNDATIONS

EVD5121 Foundations of Environmental Science (3 un.)

Provides students with a thematic understanding of the current state of environmental science. Major themes include: the set of environmental issues that are currently of major concern in Canada and abroad; the range of scientific approaches currently employed to understand and predict the effects of human activities on ecosystems; the nature of environmental science evidence; and how environmental sustainability is characterized from the perspective of environmental science.

EVD5122 Foundations of Environmental Economics (3 un.)

Key elements of economics including formal models and their underlying assumptions as they relate to the development of sustainability policy. Covers concepts such as public goods, market failure, non-market valuation, incentives, welfare economics, regulation, the equity-efficiency trade-off and market-based instruments. The course explains how fundamental economic concepts, particularly their advantages and limitations, are used to analyze issues at the interface of the economy and the environment. Examines renewable (e.g., fisheries, forests) and non-renewable (e.g., oil, gas, minerals) resource management and other topics (e.g., climate change, ozone depletion, cap and trade) in applied environmental economics. Explores the institutions and trade-offs that individuals and governments face in the context of sustainability policy.

EVD5106 Foundations of Environmental Law (1.5 un.)

Foundations of environmental law, including theory of sustainability, constitutional division of powers, approaches to regulation of environmental issues, including examples of legal frameworks for different environmental problems, and access to justice.

EVD5113 Foundations of Environmental Policy (3 un.)

Explores the central structures of public policy and the development of environmental policy at different levels of government, including engagement of actors in the policy-making process.

INTEGRATE & APPLY

EVD5123 Evidence Synthesis and Evaluation (3 un.)

Reviews different understandings of what constitutes research, both as it pertains to the production of evidence and to the evaluation of existing evidence relating to policy, to regulatory and statutory interventions and to identifying evidence gaps. Students learn research methodologies to design research so as to maximize its evidentiary value (given existing constraints); they will also learn to synthesize and assess the evidentiary value of existing research. 

EVD5109 Applied Environmental Sustainability (3 un.)

Uses an environmental sustainability case study, such as climate change, to learn how to synthesize information about a problem from multiple disciplinary perspectives, to critically evaluate such information using rigorous methodological approaches, and to design and evaluate policy or regulatory solutions. (Prerequisites: EVD5106, EVD5113, EVD5121, EVD5122 (Set of Foundational Knowledge courses).

EVD5114 Professional Skills for Environmental Sustainability (1.5 un.)

Oral and written communications skills, including presenting to parliamentary committees, preparing memos to cabinet, writing editorials, doing media interviews, and producing interdisciplinary public policy reports. Project and process management skills, including multi-stakeholder processes.

EVD5111 Capstone Seminar in Environmental Sustainability (3 un.)

Involves partnering with organization(s) working on a sustainability issue. Students work in interdisciplinary teams to identify the scientific, economic, legal and social dimensions of a particular environmental problem, evaluate a set of candidate solutions, and recommend an approach.

EVD5100, Seminar in Environmental Sustainability (3 un.)

This seminar exposes students to scientific, economic, legal and political perspectives on climate change. It encourages students to understand the multiple facets of the problem, and analyze potential solutions in a real-world context.

CO-OP WORK TERM I (6 un.)

Experience in a workplace setting. Evaluated P (Pass) / F (Fail) by a professor in the program based on the written report and the evaluation of the internship supervisor. Prerequisite: permission of the graduate studies co-ordinator.

CO-OP WORK TERM II (6 un.)

Experience in a workplace setting. Evaluated P (Pass) / F (Fail) by a professor in the program based on the written report and the evaluation of the internship supervisor. Prerequisite: permission of the graduate studies co-ordinator.

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