Undergraduate Course List

Explore course descriptions to see what you can learn in our undergraduate environmental science programs.

Our flexible programs are designed to meet your goals. All our students should meet with our professional academic advisors to find out which classes and path in our program is right for you. The below list highlights classes taught by faculty and professors in our department. 

If you are an environmental science major, check out our B.S. in Environmental Sciences Curriculum to help guide which courses to choose. 

You view all upper level/graduate courses on our Graduate Course List. 


Environmental Science Class and Laboratory Courses

Offered: Fall Spring

Explore the role humans play in response to our changing climate, and understand your individual actions can contribute to environmental solutions. In this course, you will investigate emerging environmental challenges such as global climate change, the fate of plastics in the oceans, and effects of the changing environment on our drinking water and food supplies. Equivalent to: ABE 170A2, BE 170A2, GC 170A1, GEOG 170A1, MSE 170A.

  • 3 units
  • Course Attribute: Gen Ed: Tier 1 Natural Sciences

Offered: Fall Spring

Gain valuable insight into the field of environmental science with guest presentations, University of Arizona career services visits, and interactive lecturers. This course is designed to help environmental science majors and students exploring major options broaden their understanding of diverse environmental science occupations, the job application process, and career pathways.

  • 1 unit
  • Course Attribute: Freshman Colloquia

Offered: Fall Spring

Learn about the fundamentals of our soil, vital to terrestrial life and a critical component of many environmental issues. Understanding soil management is key to sustainable environmental stewardship. In this course and corresponding lab, you will consider soils as complex systems with unique functions and behaviors arising from chemical, physical and biological components in both classroom, laboratory and field settings. 

  • 3 units (class) + 1 unit (lab)
  • Course Requisite:  CHEM 141 or CHEM 151 or CHEM 161. Must enroll in ENVS 200 for ENVS 201 

Offered: Fall Spring

Discover how we can solve environmental challenges facing humanity, including climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, and water shortages. This course focuses on collaborative activities and active learning to help you grasp the physical, biological, and human processes as well as economics, ethics and policy, underlying major environmental issues.

  • 3 units
  • Course Attribute: Gen Ed: Tier 2 Natural Sciences, Honors Contract Course

 

Offered: Spring

The critical zone extends from the top of the vegetation canopy through the groundwater table, supporting life on Earth with air, water and soil. However, human activity alters the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere, thus changing the structure of function of Earth’s ‘living skin.’ This course integrates core concepts of geology, hydrology, ecology and soil science to provide a foundational understanding of the critical zone and its role in addressing environmental problems.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: Introductory Course in Environmental Science or Instructor Consent

Offered: Fall

This course teaches you the fundamental skills and statistical approaches necessary to solve environmental issues. Using Excel software, you will explore and visualize real-world data to derive meaningful and useful interpretations. Additionally, you will learn how to effectively interpret, visualize and analyze biological and environmental data.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: PPL 60+ or MCLG 88+ or SAT I MSS 620 or ACT MATH 26+ or one course from MATH 112, 113, 116 , 120R, 122B, 125. Test scores expire after 1 year.

Offered: Fall

Terrestrial systems depend on interactions between diverse soil organisms and their micro-environments. This course will serve as an in-depth introduction to the rapidly evolving field of soil ecology, including soil food webs, microhabitats, plant interactions, linkages to critical ecosystem services, vulnerabilities to climate, and land use changes. You will learn real-world opportunities for applying soil ecological principles and mechanistic understanding to achieve sustainable environmental goals.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: ENVS 200
  • Course Attribute: Honors Contract Course

Offered: Spring

Ascertain how pollutants behave in our environment. You will be introduced to abiotic and biotic scientific processes in soil and water that affect the fate and transport of pollutants. This course lays the groundwork for understanding strategies behind mitigating the effects of pollution on human health and the environment, as well as risk assessments for managing pollution and contamination.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: MIC 205A

Offered: Fall

Find out how today's complex environmental science problems have far-reaching impacts and require an understanding of natural sciences, health, and justice. This course addresses this challenge by exploring and focusing on how to generate environmental science solutions at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, and community levels. Through the lens of environmental justice, this class will emphasize race, socioeconomics, and gender to explore the ways in which diverse individuals and societies are generating solutions to environmental quality and health challenges. Enrollment not allowed if you have previously taken GEOG 374.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: 2 courses from Tier 1 Individuals/Societies
  • Course Attribute: Gen Ed: Diversity Emphasis, Gen Ed: Tier 2 Individuals and Societies

Offered: Spring

Learn how the chemical and biological properties of soil affect nutrient availability and crop production. In this course, you will learn about fertilization, irrigation water quality, soil salinity and the environmental impacts of agricultural crops.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: ENVS 200

Offered: Fall

Get acquainted with the applied chemistry in processes that affect the Earth’s air, water and land. You will gain an understanding of chemistry in the environment through the perspective of chemical equilibrium and kinetics. This course focuses on applying tools learned in introductory chemistry to describe and predict reactions and associated transformations that occur among molecules and phases in the Earth’s air, water and land environments

  • 3 units
  • Also offered as: GEOS 340, HWRS 340
  • Course Requisite: CHEM 103A, CHEM 103B, students should complete CHEM 152 OR CHEM 162 prior to enrollment
  • Course Attribute: Honors Contract Course

Offered: Fall

Advance your knowledge of assessing contaminated sites, waste places, and disturbed sites to ensure efficient and effective remediation and restoration programs. In this course, you will be trained in standard assessment approaches used in analyzing the socioeconomic and biophysical conditions of the impacted sites, and exposed to fundamental law, regulations, and policies.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: ENVS 200 or Introductory Course Soils Course or Instructor Consent

Offered: Fall Spring

Develop the writing skills necessary to effectively write technical reports, theses and dissertations, and journal articles. In this course, you will conduct a literature review on a subject of your choice, with the goal of effectively grouping review materials into a properly formatted paper worthy of submission for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Along the way, learn about impactful scientific writing, plagiarism, and peer reviews.

  • 3 units

Offered: Spring

Microbes drive Earth’s biogeochemistry, but humans have significantly impacted the fluxes of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. In this interdisciplinary class, you will cover major microbial biogeochemical cycles, and how these cycles are impacted by, and feedback to, global change. To understand the research in this area, you will learn methods in both microbial ecology and biogeochemistry, ranging from molecular meta-omics to the use of isotopes as biogeochemical tracers, with a particular emphasis on the challenges and opportunities of integrating these two disciplines.

  • 3 units
  • Also offered as: ECOL 410, GEOS 410, PLS 410
  • Course Requisite: Background in biology or biogeochemistry and openness to interdisciplinary learning

Offered: Spring

Grow your ability to effectively communicate science, learning journalism techniques to translate environmental science topics into language anyone can understand. In this course, you will develop writing concepts that apply to any scientific field, as well as grant proposals, public reports, media, and web-based publishing.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: A, B, or better in ENGL 102 and any math class
  • Course Attribute: Honors Contract Course

Offered: Fall Spring

Get a grasp on how solar energy, atmosphere, oceans, terrestrial environment, and biosphere interact with each other at global and regional scales. You will evaluate the dynamic nature of Earth's systems, evaluating their evolution over geological times as well as projected future changes to the climate and ozone layer. This course emphasizes conceptual understanding of mechanisms, data sets and modeling techniques, using elementary math and physics principles for a comprehensive understanding of our environment’s physical aspects.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: MATH 122B AND PHYS 102 or PHYS 141

Offered: Fall

Study the interface between human activities and microbiology, from the diversity of microorganisms to microbial interactions with pollutants and the fate of microbial pathogens in the environment. You will learn about microbiological techniques and microbial environments, detection of bacteria and their activities in the environment, microbial biogeochemistry, bioremediation, and water quality.

  • 3 units
  • Also offered as: MIC 425
  • Course Requisites: MIC 205A

Offered: Fall Spring

In this capstone course designed for graduating students, you will explore environmental monitoring, characterization, and remediation through lectures, labs and field trips. The course and concurrent lab develops basic skills in applied sciences including basic statistics, field surveying, near-surface air measurements, automated data acquisition, soil and groundwater sampling and monitoring, soil and water biological properties, water pathogen monitoring, and GIS.

  • 3 units (class) + 1 unit (lab)
  • Course Requisite: ENVS 305
  • Course Attribute: Engagement:Sustainability

Offered: Fall

Want to dive deeper in soil forming processes and the role of soils in ecosystem processes? In this course and lab designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, you will learn basic skills in describing soil morphology, soil classification and US Soil Taxonomy.The course includes a laboratory section that consists of both in-lab exercises and field trips to observed soils in the Tucson Basin.

  • 4 units
  • Course Requisites: ENVS 200

Offered: Fall

Advance your knowledge of green infrastructure but examining the built environment of arid regions focused on Tucson case studies. In this course you will learn about the use of vegetation, soils and natural processes to manage water and create healthier urban environments with real-world examples. 

  • 3 units
  • Also offered as: LAR 450, PLG 450, SBE 450
  • Course Requisite: Prior coursework in related fields and familiarity with Excel
  • Course Attribute: Engagement: Discovery, Engagement: Sustainability, Honors Contract Course

 

Offered: Spring

Get hands-on experience with water harvesting principles and techniques on University of Arizona projects. In this course, you will participate in engaged learning through campurs and site tours, along with a number of design and analysis assignments and a major final design project.

  • 3 units
  • Also offered as: ECOL 454, WFSC 454
  • Course Attribute: Engagement: Discovery, Engagement: Sustainability, Honors Contract Course

 

Offered: Spring

This course introduces the principal chemical constituents and processes occurring in soils and sediments so you can better evaluate and address environmental issues. You will learn the conceptual framework for understanding chemical reactions in heterogeneous natural systems as well as applying chemical thermodynamics and kinetics to unravel biogeochemistry of earth.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: ENVS 200 AND (CHEM 152 OR CHEM 162).

Offered: Fall

Explore the physical and chemical processes influencing the behavior of contaminants in the environment. Topics include equilibrium and kinetic theory of solubilization-dissolution, volatilization, sorption, hydrolysis, photolysis, surface catalysis and radioactive decay. In this course, you will learn properties of organic compounds in relation to their environmental behavior, and how to predict the fate of organic contaminants. 

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: CHEM 152 or CHEM 162

Offered: Spring

Learn the theoretical and practical basis for understanding and quantifying physical and hydrological properties of soils. You will dive into the hydro-physical processes on the Earth's surface, including mass and energy exchange and transport processes in saturated and partially saturated soils. This course will teach you about modern measurement methods and analytical tools for hydrological data collection and interpretation.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: ENVS 200, PHYS 2013; Concurrent registration MATH 125
  • Course Attribute: Engagement: Discovery, Engagement: Innovation and Creativity

Offered: Fall

Explore the role of riparian areas, estuaries, and constructed wetlands in the environment. This course will focus on plants as wildlife habitat, nutrient cycling in the environment, and bioremediation.

  • 4 units
  • Also offered as: ECOL 474, WFSC 474

Offered: Fall

Find out all about the biology and ecology of our freshwater and marine algae. In this course, you will examine the evolutionary history and life cycles of algae, as well as the management of aquatic resources against increasing eutrophication, potential harmful algal blooms, and toxicity. You will also examine the cultivation and rearing of algae for human use. The course will include short field trips to local aquatic environments during the class period.

  • 4 units
  • Also offered as: ECOL 475, WFSC 475

 

Offered: Spring

Dive into ecotoxicology, a complex discipline that combines ecology, biology, chemistry epidemiology, statistics, as well as soil, water and atmospheric science. You will learn about a broad range of anthropogenic stressors and toxicants, and their effects on individuals and populations. This course will cover known environmental toxins and their effects; methods to study the nature, extent, movement, and exposure routes of environmental contamination; techniques to quantify toxicant effects; and current regulatory framework and tools used to govern and manage contaminants.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: CHEM 142 OR CHEM 152 or CHEM 162, AND MCB 181R and ECOL 182R

Offered: Fall

Advance your knowledge of assessing contaminated sites, waste places, and disturbed sites to ensure efficient and effective remediation and restoration programs. In this course, you will be trained in standard assessment approaches used in analyzing the socioeconomic and biophysical conditions of the impacted sites, and exposed to fundamental law, regulations, and policies.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: ENVS 210 or Introductory Course in Environmental Science or Instructor Consent

Offered: Spring

Human activity impacts our climate and environment, including mining and other resource extraction activities, agriculture, urban development, industrial activities, and waste production. You will learn the impact of these activities, as well as solutions to manage and redevelop for the sake of ecosystems and human health. This course will introduce the concepts and methods governing the sustainable management, restoration, and redevelopment of human-impacted lands. The topics covered include: soil quality concepts; the energy water- food nexus; redevelopment of brownfields and other impacted lands; reclamation of mining and other resource-extraction sites; natural-disaster cleanup; urban agriculture and community gardens.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requirements: ENVS 305 is recommended
  • Course Attributes: Engagement: Professional Development, Engagement: Sustainability

 


Research, Teaching, Independent Study, Internship, Study Abroad Courses

Offered: Fall  OR Spring

Help other students gain a better understanding of environmental science concepts in this Preceptorship Program. This course is set up on an individual basis, consisting of instructional support both in and out of the classroom for either ENVS 201 Intro Soils Lab or ENVS 270 Critical Zone Science. 

  • 1 unit
  • Course Requisite: Sophomore status with completion or concurrent enrollment in ENVS 210 or ENVS 270 or Instructor Consent.

Offered: Fall  OR SpringOR Summer

Work on an individual basis with professors on specific projects.

  • 1-3 units

Offered: Fall  OR Spring

Help other students gain a better understanding of environmental science concepts in this Preceptorship Program. This one unit course is set up on an individual basis, consisting of instructional support both in and out of the classroom for either ENVS 305 Pollution Science, ENVS 310 Ecosystem Health and Justice, ENVS 316 Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition, or ENVS 340 Environmental Chemistry.

  • 1 unit 
  • Course Requisite: Junior status with completion or concurrent enrollment in ENVS 310 or ENVS 316 or ENVS 340 or ENVS 305

Offered: Fall  OR SpringOR Summer

Participate in specialized work on an individual basis, consisting of training and practice in actual service in a technical, business, or governmental establishment.

  • 1-3 units

Offered: Fall  Spring

Learn about the practical application of theoretical learning within a group setting. You will learn how to be a successful preceptor for a course, assisting in organizing activities/laboratory classes, assisting in preparing instructors for lectures, giving exams and learning about impactful teaching methods.

  • 3-4 units
  • Also offered as BE 397A
  • Course Attribute: Engagement: Professional Development, Engagement: Sustainability

Offered: Fall  Spring

Get involved with sustainability projects around the University of Arizona. You will participate in teams on one or more of several existing projects, including composting, gardening, rainwater harvesting, recycling, environmental justice, food choices and their impacts, sustainability practices at athletic events, energy and climate, or environmental arts, while emphasizing scientific principles. You will also have the opportunity to develop new projects oriented around sustainable use and conservation of natural resources on campus and surrounding community.

  • 3 units
  • Course Attributes: Engagement: Discovery, Engagement: Sustainability

Offered: Fall  OR Spring

other students gain a better understanding of environmental science concepts in this Preceptorship Program. This one course is set up on an individual basis, consisting of instructional support both in and out of the classroom for ENVS 401 Sustainable Management of Arid Lands & Salt Affected Soils, ENVS 408 Scientific Writing for Environmental Science, ENVS 415 Translating Environmental Science, ENVS 420 Environmental Physics, ENVS 425 Environmental Microbiology, ENVS 430R/L Environmental Monitoring and Remediation, ENVS 431 Soil Genesis, ENVS 462 Env. Soil and Water Chemistry, ENVS 464 Env. Organic Chemistry, ENVS 480 Env. Assessment, or ENVS 482 Reclamation and Redevelopment Impacted Lands.

  • 1 unit
  • Course Requisites: Senior status with completion or concurrent enrollment in: ENVS 401 or ENVS 408, or ENVS 415 or  ENVS 420 or  ENVS 425 or ENVS 430R/L or ENVS 431, or ENVS 462 or  ENVS 464 or ENVS 480 or ENVS 482
  • Course Attribute: Engagement: Leadership, Engagement: Professionalism

Offered: Fall  OR SpringOR Summer

Get individual or small group research experience under the guidance of faculty.

  • 1-6 units

Offered: Fall  OR SpringOR Summer

Master your research studies and collection of data for future interpretation on an individual basis.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: ENGL 101, ABE 120 and Instructor Consent

Offered:  Summer

Travel to Australia and explore topics in environmental science, including non-native species introductions, soil and water conservation, and fire management in the landscape. In this course, you will collaborate with Australian scientists and conservation organizations in current environmental research, while discovering the flora and fauna that make this country exceptional.

  • 6 units

Offered:  Summer

Travel to Ecuador and experience the Amazon Rainforest. You will be located at the Shiripuno Field Station managed by the local Huaorani tribe and be given the opportunity to develop and implement a unique research project, such as biological inventory, soil analysis or working with the Huaoranis to understand their environmental perspectives.

  • 3 units
  • Also offered as: RNR 495G

Offered: Fall  Spring

Get involved with sustainability projects around the University of Arizona. You will participate in teams on one or more of several existing projects, including composting, gardening, rainwater harvesting, recycling, environmental justice, food choices and their impacts, sustainability practices at athletic events, energy and climate, or environmental arts, while emphasizing scientific principles. You will also have the opportunity to develop new projects oriented around sustainable use and conservation of natural resources on campus and surrounding community.

  • 3 units
  • Course Requisite: ENVS 397S
  • Course Attributes: Engagement: Discovery, Engagement: Sustainability

Offered: Fall  Spring

Culminate your environmental science undergraduate major experience with a substantive project that demonstrates all you have learned. 

  • 1-3 units
  • Course Requisite: Senior standing 
  • Course Attribute: Engagement: Discovery, Engagement: Sustainability

Practice the scientific research process as you develop an original research proposal and work with a selected advisor.Research approaches covered in this course include local field observation and experimentation, laboratory experimental and observation, resource analysis, survey, database research, GIS, and environmental action plans.

  • 1-3 units
  • Course Requisite: Senior standing
  • Course Attribute: Engagement: Discovery, Engagement: Sustainability

Continue your environmental science research journey. In this course, you will engage in data collection, analysis, and write a publishable research paper under the supervision of a faculty advisor.

  • 2 units
  • Course Requisite: Senior standing and ENVS 498A
  • Course Attribute: Engagement: Professional Development, Engagement: Innovation and Creativity