AFRI 266: Contemporary Africa: Issues in Health, Population, and the Environment  (Crosslisted as ENST 266)

A seminar that introduces students to non-Western perspectives and comparative study of ecological, social and economic factors that influence the welfare of contemporary African communities.  Examination of famine, population growth and health issues within the context of African cultural and social systems.


ANTH 312: From the Equator to the Poles: Case Studies in Global Environmental Change (Crosslisted as MASC 312)

ANTH 312 Syllabus

Case studies in environmental change, highlighting human and environmental dynamics in terrestrial and marine ecosystems on multiple spatial and temporal scales. Includes active learning modules, group presentations, writing assignments.


BIOL 350: Oceanography (Crosslisted as ENVR 417, GEOL 403, and MASC 401)

Required preparation, major in a natural science or two courses in natural sciences. Studies origin of ocean basins, seawater chemistry and dynamics, biological communities, sedimentary record, and oceanographic history. Term paper. Students lacking science background should see MASC 101. No credit for MASC 401 after receiving credit for MASC 101.


CHIN 456: Chinese Environmental Literature

Introduces students to Chinese and Taiwanese cultural understandings of human relations to the natural environment. Analyzes classical and modern environmental literature (poetry, essays, fiction, and philosophy) and evaluates how contemporary building practices, governmental policies, and green technologies may be influenced by diverse Chinese philosophical traditions.


DRAM 088 First Year Seminar: Ecology and Performance

DRAM FYS 088 Syllabus

This seminar will guide students through the process of developing new practice-as-research projects inspired by socio-ecological issues. This task will involve: an understanding of the environmental arts and core principles surrounding notions of sustainability; an understanding and practicing of a range of performance techniques; research and engagement with current ecological debates; and the ability to collaborate and integrate these elements in the form of a new ecologically-driven performance project on the water theme in support of UNC’s pan-campus initiative “Water In Our World.” A prerequisite is not required.

This seminar will focus on experiential learning, student-directed research, and collaborative project development. Students will be expected to: actively participate and collaborate with a positive approach; keep a journal throughout the semester; learn a variety of performance techniques; engage with performance as a mode and means of research; present on research individually and collaboratively; and develop a final practice-as-research project for public presentation and community engagement. Students also are expected to attend, outside of the scheduled class time, both a group outing and a related performance event, which will provide opportunities for active learning experiences and community building. The engaged learning activities will enhance knowledge and foster collaborations for future development of final projects that promote socio-ecological sustainability.


ENST 204: Environmental Seminar

ENST 204 syllabus

This course will provide an intellectual focus on the interface between environment and society by examining the relationship among science, policy, and actual management practices on a chosen topic. Offered in both Spring and Fall.


ENST 220: North Carolina Estuaries: Environmental Processes and Problems

Natural processes and human impacts on estuarine systems using the Neuse River estuary as a case study. Course includes one week of intensive field work based at the Institute of Marine Sciences. A student may not receive credit for this course after receiving credit for ENST 222.


ENST 222: Estuarine and Coastal Marine Science

Prerequisites, MATH 231 and either CHEM 101 or PHYS 104. Introduction to the estuarine and coastal environment: geomorphology, physical circulation, nutrient loading, primary and secondary production, carbon and nitrogen cycling, benthic processes, and sedimentation. Consideration given to human impact on coastal systems with emphasis on North Carolina estuaries and sounds. Includes a mandatory weekend field trip and laboratory.


ENST 225: Water Resource Management and Human Rights

A course designed to explore logistical, political, social and economic challenges in supplying every human with adequate access to clean water, the most basic of human rights.


ENST 259: Coral Reef Ecology and Management

The course familiarizes students with the natural history, ecology, and physical and chemical characteristics of the coral reef environment. Policy and management issues are also examined.


ENST 351: Coastal Law and Policy

The utilization of common coastal resources, the management of fisheries, and coastal zone management guide an examination of coastal laws, policies, and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels.


ENST 352: Ecology and Management of Marine Fisheries

Prerequisite, MASC 101 or 401. Survey of the ecological processes that influence populations of economically important fish and shellfish, the various fisheries management tools/techniques used to achieve sustainable fish stocks, and the impacts of fishing practices on marine ecosystems.


ENST 369: Energy and the Environment: A Coastal Perspective

Permission of the department. Participants will explore coastal and offshore energy generating technologies and the environmental problems that they may pose through lecture, discussion, field trips, observation, and research. Participants will explore the concepts of experimental design and cost-benefit analysis and will contribute to a course Web site and blog.


ENST 581: Water Resource Planning & Policy Analysis (Crosslisted as ENVR 781 and PLAN 781)

This course examines the following topical areas: Water resources demand-supply relationships, United States water resource and related water quality policy, legal structure for water allocation, planning, project and program evaluation, and pricing. Strategies for coping with floods, droughts, and climate change will be explored. Extensive use of case studies.


ENST 586: Water Quality Policies and Planning

Prerequisites, BIOL 101 and MATH 231. Introduction to the management of water quality at the local and basin-wide scales. Topics include theory and management frameworks; state and federal statutes and programs; water contaminants, their fate and transport; alternatives for improving and protecting water quality; and the technologies and management practices of selected basin-wide comprehensive strategies.


ENST 411: Oceanic Processes in Environmental Systems (Crosslisted as GEOL 411 and MASC 411)

Prerequisites, BIOL 101, CHEM 102, ENST 222, MATH 231, PHYS 105 or 117. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites. Principles of analysis of the ocean, coast, and estuarine environments and the processes that control these environments are applied to the analysis of environmental phenomena. Case studies of environmental issues. Three lecture hours and one laboratory hour a week.


ENST 471 Human Impacts on Estuarine Ecosystems (Crosslisted as MASC 471)

Prerequisites, CHEM 102 and MATH 231. A cohesive examination of the human impacts on biological processes in estuarine ecosystems. Laboratory/recitation/field work is included and contributes two credit hours to the course.


ENST 474: Sustainable Coastal Management

This course explores the environmental history of the Albemarle estuary and its larger watershed and explores ways in which humans can utilize this region in a more sustainable manner.


ENVR 285: Surface Water Quality: Modeling and Policy

This course is designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of water quality modeling theory and application. Concepts related to mass balances, reaction kinetics, and transport will applied within a surface water systems context. Students will be expected to understand and apply various analytical and numerical methods in the development of surface water models. Models will be developed with an eye toward policy applications related to regulatory decisions, including the establishment of effluent standards, economically efficient wasteload allocation (e.g., tradable permit schemes), and facility siting.


– ENVR 403: Environmental Chemical Processes (Crosslisted as ENST 403)

This course is a discussion of the chemical processes occurring in natural and engineered systems that include, but are not limited to the following: chemical cycles; transport and transformation processes of chemicals in air, water, and multimedia environments; chemical dynamics; thermodynamics; structure/activity relationships.


ENVR 419: Chemical Equilibria in Natural Waters

Principles and applications of chemical equilibria to natural waters. Acid-base, solubility, complex formation, and redox reactions are discussed. This course uses a problem-solving approach to illustrate chemical speciation and environmental implications. Three lecture hours per week.


ENVR 453: Groundwater Hydrology

Required preparation, math through differential equations and some familiarity with fluid mechanics. Conservation principles for mass, momentum, and energy developed and applied to groundwater systems. Scope includes the movement of water, gas, and organic liquid phases, the transport and reaction of contaminants. Three lecture hours per week.


ENVR 468: Advanced Functions of Temporal GIS (Crosslisted as ENST 468)

Overview of geographical information systems (GIS) using the Arc GIS software, and introduction to advanced geostatistical functions for temporal GIS describing environmental and health phenomena distributed across space and time. Application to the spatiotemporal mapping of environmental water quality.


ENVR 685: Water and Sanitation Planning and Policy in Developed Countries (Crosslisted as PLAN 685)

Seminar on policy and planning approaches for improved community water and sanitation services in developing countries. Topics include the choice of appropriate technology and level of service; cost recovery; water venting; community participation in the management of water systems; and rent-seeking behavior in providing water supplies.


ENVR 755: Analysis of Water Resource Systems

This course is intended to develop a student’s ability to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate approaches to water resource management in terms of their technical feasibility, economic merits, and public policy implications. This will include assessing plans for the development of new infrastructure, as well as the expansion of existing supplies. Economic concepts (e.g., supply, demand, economic efficiency) are discussed, followed by an introduction to methods for computing and maximizing the net benefits of water use. Engineering concepts related to water supply and conveyance, such as hydrologic frequency analysis and pipe/open channel flow, are presented and applied. Both engineering and economic principles are incorporated into optimization exercises (Linear programming, Multi-objective optimization, Lagrangian techniques) that are used as a means of policy analysis. Special effort is made to include consideration of legal, regulatory, and political factors at all levels of this course (i.e. lectures, readings, assignments), with the expectation that students will gain sufficient awareness of these issues to incorporate them into regional water resource analyses.


ENVR 781: Water Resources Planning and Policy Analysis (Crosslisted as PLAN 781 and ENST 490)


ENVR 890-004: Water In Our World

ENVR 890 Syllabus

A university-wide course examining a range of critical topics on global water. The course brings together expert faculty from UNC and
visiting scholars to lead units on water development, water safety, water in the environment, human rights to water, water and civilization, and the water/energy nexus.

Water is necessary for our survival and is a lynch pin of public health in the 21st century.  Escalating human population growth is currently placing unsustainable demands on our water resources.  Concomitant climate change and other environmental changes, poor resource management, and emerging and re-emerging diseases are compromising our access to and quality of water resources.  This course highlights current issues facing our water resources and how these problems influence the health of humans and the planet.


GEOG 416: Applied Climatology

GEOG 416 syllabus

An investigation of the ways climatic information and techniques can be applied to environmental and societal problems, such as water resources, urban environments, vegetation, and human health.


GEOG 441: Watershed Systems

Prerequisite, GEOG 110. Introduction to the hydrologic and geomorphic processes and forms in watersheds as applied to problems in flood analysis, water quality, and interactions with ecosystem processes. Course will cover the structure of drainage networks, nested catchments, and distribution and controls of precipitation, evaporation, runoff, soil, and groundwater flow.


GEOG 442: River Processes

Introduction to landforms and processes associated with flowing water at the earth’s surface. Hydrology, sedimentology, and theories of channel formation and drainage basin evolution.


GEOL 079 First Year Seminar: Coasts in Crisis

An investigation of the geologic evolution and function of coastal environments, the recent effects of coastal development and engineering, and an examination of existing coastal management strategies and the tensions between coastal development and the desire to preserve natural environments.


GEOL 223: Geology of Beaches and Coasts (Crosslisted as MASC 223)

Required preparation, one introductory geology course numbered below GEOL 202, except first-year seminar. Introduction to coastal processes, including waves, tidal currents, tectonics, climate, and human activity, and their influence on barrier islands, beaches, dunes, marshes, and estuaries. Involves a field trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.


GEOL 430: Coastal Sedimentary Environments (Crosslisted as MASC 430)

Prerequisite, GEOL 402. Introduction to modern shallow-water clastic environments and their sediments, emphasizing barrier islands, deltas, estuaries, wetlands, and tidal flats. Includes local field trips and discussion/application of data-collecting techniques.


GEOL 433: Paleoceanography

Prerequisite, GEOL 402 or 503. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Origin and distribution of pelagic sediments. Review of the major Mesozoic and Cenozoic events in the world oceans. Glacial/interglacial changes in the ocean/atmosphere system.


– GEOL 434: Marine Carbonate Environments

Permission of the instructor. Chemical and biological origins of calcium carbonate, skeletal structure, and chemo-mineralogy, preservation, sedimentation, and early diagenesis are studied in deep and shallow environmental settings to understand skeletal genesis, limestone origin, and carbonate facies variability. Field trip to Florida, Bahamas, or Bermuda. Laboratory exercises; research report.


GEOL 460: Fluid Dynamics of the Environment

Prerequisite, MATH 232. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Principles and applications of fluid dynamics to flows of air and water in the natural environment. Conservation of momentum, mass, and energy applied to lakes, rivers, estuaries, and the coastal ocean. Dimensional analysis and scaling emphasized to promote problem-solving skills.


GEOL 480: Modeling of Marine and Earth Systems (Crosslisted as ENVR 480 and MASC 480)

Prerequisite, MATH 232. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Mathematical modeling of the dynamic system, linear and nonlinear. The fundamental budget equation. Case studies in modeling convective transport, biogeochemical process, population dynamics. Analytical and numerical techniques, chaos theory, fractal geometry.


GEOL 483: Geologic and Oceanographic Applications of Geographical Information Systems (Crosslisted as MASC 483)

Required preparation, four GEOL courses or permission of the instructor. Focus is on applying GIS concepts and techniques to mining and petroleum geology, resource assessment, hydrogeology, coastal and marine geology, physical oceanography, engineering geology, and a geologic perspective on land use. Three lecture and two laboratory hours a week.


GEOL 506: Physical Oceanography (Crosslisted as MASC 506)

For graduate students; undergraduates need permission of the instructor. Descriptive oceanography, large-scale wind-driven and thermohaline circulations, ocean dynamics, regional and nearshore/estuarine physical processes, waves, tides. Three lectures and one recitation hour per week.


GEOL 508: Applied Hydrology

Prerequisites, GEOL 101 or 110, MATH 231, PHYS 105. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites. An introduction to methodologies and instrumentation for quantifying the movement of water in the earth system focusing on components of the hydrologic cycle. Emphasis is divided between analytical aspects and field procedures.


GEOL 509: Groundwater

GEOL 509 Syllabus

Prerequisites, CHEM 102; GEOL 101, 105, 109, or 110; MATH 231; PHYS 104, 116. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites. Introduction to physics, chemistry, and geology of groundwater.


GEOL 510: Geochemistry of Natural Waters

GEOL 510 Syllabus

Prerequisites, CHEM 102; GEOL 101, 105, 109, or 110; MATH 231. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites. Survey of processes affecting the compositions of streams, lakes, the ocean, and shallow ground waters.


GEOL 514: River Systems of East Coast North America

Prerequisites, GEOL 101 or 110, and 211 or 417. Junior or senior status. Analysis of 23 rivers from St. Lawrence to the Everglades, from headwaters to oceanic terminus of turbidite fan. Focus on stream processes, geologic development, hydrology, utilization history, ecology, and planning.


LAW 262: Environmental Ocean and Coastal Law

LAW 262 syllabus

Among the policy issues explored in this course are those relating to the siting of oil, gas, and alternative energy facilities and equipment in coastal or ocean waters, the privatization of public waters, the impact of rising sea levels upon ocean beaches and estuarine shorelines, beach nourishment and shoreline protection, development setback lines, the use of ocean outfalls to dispose of wastewater, and the future role of the Coastal Resources Commission.  Other emerging policy issues and the governing state and federal legal regime are examined also. Open to second- and third-year students. No prerequisites.


PHYA 227: Scuba

PHYA 227 syllabus

PHYA 227 schedule

This course prepares students for participation in recreational diving: both skin diving and scuba. Lectures cover physiology of diving, first aid, and decompression. It can lead to certification if students attend open water training dives conducted at the semester’s end. An additional fee is required.


PUBA 780.007: Applied Water Finance (Crosslisted as ENVR 890.006)

A highly applied, case-study based special topics course that focuses on the difficult “how to pay” questions related to water resources management by examining the strategies, systems, and tools that societies, governments, and communities across the country use to pay for water programs and services.  Students will study the impact that select financing systems have on water resources and the communities that rely on the services. The course explores diverse funding and finance tools, including debt financing instruments, usage fees, and taxes, and prepares students for the design and evaluation of water service financing systems, in addition to exploring potential alternatives to the methods currently being utilized

This course is appropriate for graduate students studying public administration, planning, economics, or finance who are interested in learning how finance tools can be applied to water management, as well as students with an interest in environmental policy and protection issues who would like to gain a better understanding of how water policy and protection can be financed.


For a complete listing of course offerings in Marine Sciences, please click on the following link: