Environmental Science (ENSC) 200

Introductory Environmental Science (Revision 3)

ENSC 200 Course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology

Centre: Centre for Science

ENSC 200 has a Challenge for Credit option.

Check availability

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


ENSC 200 is a junior-level three-credit science course designed to introduce you to the basic terminology, techniques, and concepts of environmental science, and to expose you to simple experiments that will allow you to apply fundamental concepts to real-world situations.


  • Unit 1 Environmental Problems: An Introduction and Overview
  • Unit 2 Environmental History: Learning from the Past
  • Unit 3 Science, Systems, Matter, and Energy
  • Unit 4 Ecosystems: What Are They and How Do They Work?
  • Unit 5 Evolution and Biodiversity
  • Unit 6 Climate and Terrestrial Biodiversity
  • Unit 7 Aquatic Biodiversity
  • Unit 8 Community Ecology
  • Unit 9 Population Ecology
  • Unit 10 Applying Population Ecology: The Human Population
  • Unit 11 Sustaining Terrestrial Biodiversity: Managing and Protecting Ecosystems
  • Unit 12 Sustaining Biodiversity: The Species Approach
  • Unit 13 Sustaining Aquatic Biodiversity
  • Unit 14 Food and Soil Resources
  • Unit 15 Water Resources
  • Unit 16 Geology and Nonrenewable Mineral Resources
  • Unit 17 Nonrenewable Energy Resources
  • Unit 18 Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  • Unit 19 Risk, Toxicology, and Human Health
  • Unit 20 Air Pollution
  • Unit 21 Climate Change and Ozone Loss
  • Unit 22 Water Pollution
  • Unit 23 Pest Management
  • Unit 24 Solid and Hazardous Waste
  • Unit 25 Sustainable Cities

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to

  • recognize and use the appropriate scientific vocabulary for describing and analyzing issues in environmental science.
  • describe the connections among elements of an environmental system.
  • assess basic scientific evidence about environmental issues and interpret data about the environmental impacts of human activities.
  • quantitatively describe the effects of your personal activities on the environment, including your carbon footprint.
  • observe your local environment as part of broader scientific studies, such as citizen science projects.


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:

Activity Weighting
Units 1-25, online quizzes (1% each) 25%
Experiments 1-4 (5% each) 20%
Citizen Science Assignment 15%
Final Examination 40%
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


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Miller, G.T., Hackett, D. (2013). Living in the Environment (3rd Canadian ed.). Toronto: Nelson Education.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

Special Instructional Feature

Home labs involve use of materials typically found around a home as well as information gathered from local and internet based sources.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the ENSC 200 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least C- (60 percent) on the examination. The challenge evaluation consists of a three-hour exam.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

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 3, February 21, 2014.

View previous syllabus