Environmental Science (ENSC) 200

Introductory Environmental Science (Revision 2)

ENSC 200 Course cover

Revision 2 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version.

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study with a home lab or grouped study. Video component*

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: None

Centre: Centre for Science

ENSC 200 is not available for challenge.

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*Note: Overseas students, please contact the University Library before registering in a course that has an audio/visual component.


ENSC 200 is a junior-level three-credit science course that provides an introduction to the basic scientific principles students need in order to understand environmental processes. It introduces students to the physical, chemical and biological components of the environment and uses a systems approach to provide an understanding of the interconnections of environmental systems. Data from a range of science disciplines are used to gain an understanding of the cycles that are vital to sustaining the earth’s ecosystems. The course also provides students with an understanding of causes, effects, and controls of a selection of environmental problems. Specific environmental problems are examined in order to illustrate the scientific approach to such problems. The course provides students with basic techniques and terminology to examine scientific issues with respect to the environment.


Part I: Environmental Science Basics

Unit 1: Environmental Science and the Scientific Method
Lab 1: Environmental Observation and Hypothesis Building Exercise

Unit 2: The Earth’s Physical Spheres
Lab 2: Interactions of the Physical Spheres

Unit 3: Energy and Nutrient Flows and Cycles
Lab 3: Energy and Nutrient Budgeting and Cycling

Unit 4: The Biosphere
Lab 4: Simulation of Natural Selection, Evolution and Predation

Unit 5: Environmental Stressors
Lab 5: The Environmental Spheres and the Role of Stressors

Part II: Application of Scientific Principles to the Examination of Environmental Issues

Unit 6: Populations
Lab 6: Population Growth Rates

Unit 7: Resource Use
Lab 7: Energy Audit

Unit 8: Toxic Elements

Unit 9: Pesticides
Lab 8: Toxic Elements

Unit 10: Air Pollution and Climate Change
Lab 9: Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change

Unit 11: Biodiversity
Lab 10: Population Distribution and Diversity

Unit 12: Urban Ecology

Unit 13: Forestry and the Environment

Unit 14: Agriculture and the Environment Journal Article Review


To receive credit for ENSC 200, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent), and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Component Weighting
Assignment 1 4%
Assignment 2 4%
Assignment 3 4%
Assignment 4 4%
Assignment 5 9%
Assignment 6 4%
Assignment 7 4%
Assignment 8 4%
Assignment 9 4%
Assignment 10 4%
Journal Article Evaluation 10%
Final Examination 45%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Freedman, Bill. 2004. Environmental Science: A Canadian Perspective, 3rd ed. Toronto: Prentice Hall.

Other materials

The course materials also include a student manual, a study guide, a lab and assignment manual, and a book of readings.

Special Instructional Feature

A Web site has been set up for the course to access additional material of interest relevant to the course. Home labs involve use of materials typically found around a home as well as information gathered from local and internet based sources.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, October 19, 2005.

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