Major Programs

We offer or contribute to several majors with different degrees of specialization in geosciences. They offer you the flexibility of creating an individualized program in preparation for careers in industry, education or research. Details on each Major are given below.

Major Geology (66 credits)


If you do not need to complete any freshman-level chemistry, physics or mathematics, your U1 year will look like the following.

The fall semester consists of:


The winter semester consists of:


Note: If you are not familiar with vector geometry, you must take MATH 133 - Linear Algebra and Geometry as an elective. If you have taken the equivalent of MATH 222, an alternative complementary course will be approved by the director of undergraduate studies in your U1, U2 or U3 year.

The U1 normally ends with EPSC 231 - Field School 1 , a 2-week field course offered in May (registration for summer courses opens in March)

In U2 and U3, you largely build your Major Geology from EPSC courses (required and complementary courses) of level 300- and above. The complementary lists of the Major Geology are designed to meet the professional accreditation requirements in most Canadian provinces, but many EPSC courses are offered only every other year. Some courses from other departments (e.g. physical geography subjects) are considered relevant by the professional orders and can be used as complementary courses or electives. Consult your departmental adviser each year to select your courses and review your progress in your Major.

Honours Geology (75 credits)


The Honours Geology differs from the Major by including 12 credits of additional required courses (listed below) and one less complementary course:


The Honours Geology also requires a CGPA of 3.2 or higher at graduation time.

Students may transfer from Major Geology to Honours Geology during their U2 year if they have a CGPA of 3.2 or higher. MATH 314 is typically taken in either the U2 or U3 year, and the 6-credit research project is done during the fall and winter semesters of U3.

The complementary list of courses of Honours Geology is designed to meet the professional accreditation requirements of geoscientists in Canada..

Honours Planetary Sciences (78 credits)


Compared to Honours Geology, the Honours Planetary Sciences is enriched in mathematics and physics. An overall CGPA of 3.2 or higher is required at the time of graduation.

The EPSC courses taken in U1 are the same as those of the Honours Geology. For a smooth progression, MATH 222 and MATH 223 courses are taken in U1, MATH 314 and MATH 315 are taken in U2, and MATH 317 and MATH 319 in U3.

In U2 and U3, the required courses of the Honours Program in Planetary Sciences provide a rigorous preparation for graduate studies, but they do not cover the breadth of geology courses expected by most Canadian professional orders in a B.Sc. program. If you want to meet the requirements of professional accreditation, choose your U2 and U3 complementary and elective courses with the help of a departmental adviser.


Major Earth System Science (57 credits)


The Earth System Science Major focuses on links between Earth systems, by providing quantitative skills and a flexible curriculum grounded in its three founding departments: Earth & Planetary Sciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and Geography.

ESS students are welcome in all three founding departments and can choose to make any or all of them their "home base."

william.minarik [at] (William Minarik) is the academic adviser. Meet him each year to map your course selection. He can also direct you to advisers in the ATOC and GEOG departments for their knowledge of specific courses.

The Major Earth System Science includes four required "core" ESYS courses taken from U1 to U3:


Other required courses typically taken in U1 include:


Programming skills are essential to the analysis of large data sets throughout this program. The programming course to take in U1 is one of:


The analysis of numerical data set also requires a knowledge and application of statistical methods. This requirement is met by one of:


Earth System Science students gain a multidisciplinary background from the remaining 33 credits of complementary courses.

18 credits are selected from short lists in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC), Biology (BIOL), Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPSC), Environment (ENVR) and Geography (GEOG).

The last 15 credits come from an extensive and diverse list of complementary courses drawn from the founding departments and other complementary disciplines. See the course calendar description for more details.

Many Earth System Science choose to do an undergraduate research project. This experience is particularly valuable if they wish to go on to graduate research.

To seek more depth in one field, students may choose to combine their Major Earth System Science with a departmental Minor or use their elective credits.

Honours Earth System Science (66 credits)


Students majoring in Earth System Science with a GPA of 3.2 or more may enter the Honours stream during their U2 year. An honours degree in ESS consists of 66 credits.

The Honours in Earth System Science follows the same program as a major, but includes an additional 9 credits of required courses in the U2/U3 years:


More information on the Honours Earth System Science is available on the program website and in the course calendar.


Major Physics and Geophysics (69 credits)


This Major is administered by the department of Physics but is offered jointly with Earth and Planetary Sciences. The courses in physics and mathematics are complemented by a core of required EPSC courses:


Seven EPSC courses and the EPSC 480 undergraduate research project appear in its complementary course list. Plan ahead: most complementary EPSC courses are offered only every other year.


Major Environment - Earth Sciences and Economics (66 credits)


This interfaculty major is described in the course calendar.

Students take the following four EPSC courses in U1 and U2:


In U1 and U2, this Major combines fundamental geology courses with microeconomics and the ENVR core courses of the McGill School of environment. Its complementary courses are distributed among statistical methods, aspects of economic development and knowledge of natural resources.

This Major, by itself, does not meet the Canadian requirements for professional accreditation as an environmental geoscientist, but well-chosen elective credits from EPSC, ESYS and GEOG courses and an undergraduate research project can bridge that gap (if you seek advising early).

B.A. Faculty Program: Economics and the Earth's Environment (54 credits)


This program does not require as much freshman-level chemistry, physics or maths as the ones listed above. It also has fewer required or complementary EPSC courses.


Liberal Program Core Science Component in Earth and Planetary Sciences (45 credits)


The Bachelor of Science Liberal Degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences provides the student with a core knowledge of geology, geophysics, earth system science and planetary science while allowing for broadening of the student's educational experience with courses from other sciences or the arts. The Core Science Component consists of 45 credits (21 credits of required courses and 24 credits of complementaries chosen from a list). More information about the Liberal B.Sc. Program in Earth and Planetary Sciences.


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