Environmental Sciences and Engineering Courses
Check out the beta version of our new Gillings Program Search (GPS) for prospective students. The GPS provides a search option for our School’s degree and non-degree programs, as well as the ability to drill down to an overview of each program’s quick facts and related information about how to apply. See our tuition and fees page for related information.
All course schedules are available on the UNC Registrar’s website.
Official ESE course descriptions taken from the UNC Undergraduate Record and the UNC Graduate Record are below. Additional courses may be added on a semester basis at the discretion of the department.
If you have any questions about course offerings or descriptions, please contact the Departmental Student Services staff by phone at 919-966-4818 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Some titles below link to the syllabus for that course. Please note that some syllabi are for past semesters, so dates will not apply to future semesters.
Prerequisite, MATH 231. Introduction to mass, energy, and momentum transport applied to environmental problem solving. Students ask and answer policy-oriented questions (define systems, document assumptions, explain the value and limitations of quantitative answers). They will apply these tools to the design of engineered solutions and characterization of natural and perturbed systems.
Examines key events that have shaped our understanding of the impacts of environmental agents on human health and uses them to introduce basic concepts in environmental health.
Presents the results of ongoing research projects in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. Topics and presenters are selected from among the departmental graduate students and faculty.
Required preparation, a background in chemistry and mathematics, including ordinary differential equations. Chemical processes occurring in natural and engineered systems: chemical cycles; transport and transformation processes of chemicals in air, water, and multimedia environments; chemical dynamics; thermodynamics; structure/activity relationships.
A systems approach to dealing with environmental pollution problems is highlighted and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is introduced as an assessment tool. Topics include basic environmental interactions; biogeochemical cycles and environmental impacts (global, regional and local); and application of LCA to waste management and energy conversion systems; are addressed. Taught on location in Thailand.
Students learn laboratory, field, and analytical skills. Provides a solid introduction to experimental research in environmental sciences and engineering. Students are provided with applications in limnology, aquatic chemistry, and industrial hygiene.
Required preparation, one course in general microbiology. A description of microbial populations and communities, the environmental processes they influence, and how they can be controlled to the benefit of humankind.
Required preparation, introductory biology, chemistry, and physics. Basic aspects of freshwater ecosystem function. Emphasis on trophic level interactions and integration of physical, chemical, and biological principles for a holistic view of lake ecosystem dynamics.
Permission of the instructor for nonmajors. Physical and chemical principles underlying behavior of particles suspended in air. Topics include rectilinear and curvilinear motion of the particles in a force field, diffusion, evaporation, and condensation, electrical and optical properties, and particle coagulation. Three lecture hours a week and two laboratory sessions.
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.
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.
Required preparation, introductory course in microbiology or permission of the instructor. Presentation of the microbes of public health importance in water, food, and air, including their detection, occurrence, transport, and survival in the environment; epidemiology and risks from environmental exposure. Two lecture and two laboratory hours per week.
Toxicological assessment of and a case presentation of related exposure is given. A conceptual approach is utilized to design appropriate programs to prevent worker ill health due to toxicant exposure.
This course concentrates on fundamentals of radiation and protection, including types of radiation, radioactive decay, interaction with matter, biological effects, detection and measurement, protection methods/techniques, external and internal dose, etc. Lectures include hazards in categories of environmental radiation, nuclear energy, medical applications, industrial uses, etc.
Required preparation, basic biology, chemistry through organic, calculus. Permission of the instructor for students lacking this preparation. Interactions of environmental agents (chemicals, infectious organisms, radiation) with biological systems including humans, with attention to routes of entry, distribution, metabolism, elimination, and mechanisms of adverse effects. Three lecture hours per week.
Fundamentals of occupational safety and ergonomics with emphasis on legislation and organization of industrial safety and ergonomic programs, including hazard recognition, analysis, control, and motivational factors pertaining to industrial accident and cumulative trauma disorder prevention.
Prerequisite, ENVR 422. An introduction to the health hazards associated with the various unit operations of industry. Field trips to local industries planned.
Prerequisite, CHEM 430. Required preparation, one course in biochemistry. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites. Biochemical actions of toxicants and assessment of cellular damage by biochemical measurements. Three lecture hours per week.
Required preparation, elementary differential equations course such as MATH 524. Focuses on chemical reaction rates and reaction mechanisms. Covers mole balances, rate laws, chemical kinetics, and reactor design. Principles are applied to any environmental system where chemical transformations must be described. Three lecture hours per week.
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.
Change description to: Prerequisite, MATH 232; permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Reviews geographical information systems (GIS). Covers geostatistics theory for the interpolation of environmental and health monitoring data across space and time. Uses publicly available water and air quality monitoring data to create maps used for environmental assessment, regulatory compliance analysis, exposure science, and risk analysis.
Required preparation, one course in probability and statistics. Use of mathematical models and computer simulation tools to estimate the human health impacts of exposure to environmental pollutants. Three lecture hours per week.
This class addresses the complexity and importance of global climate change from several disciplines. A top expert will lecture each week, addressing several themes including the science of human influences on climate, impacts and adaptation, global energy and technology, communication, and economics and international solutions. Pass/Fail only.
Prerequisite, CHEM 261 or equivalent. Environmental chemical and biological transport and transformation, exposure to environmental contaminants, and environmental risk assessment.
Required preparation, one course in probability and statistics. Use of quantitative tools for balancing conflicting priorities (such as costs versus human health protection) and evaluating uncertainties when making environmental decisions.
This class addresses the importance of climate change in its entirety. The first half of the course addresses climate science, followed by climate change impacts, energy and mitigation technologies, economics, and international politics. Improving communication and quantitative skills is emphasized through homework, in-class presentations, and a research paper.
Students will be introduced to the types of policy instruments that can be used to solve environmental health problems. The course provides a framework for understanding the tasks involved, the main institutions responsible, and an in-depth description of the policy instruments used to tackle environmental health problems.
This is a course on Sanitation in Developing Countries of interest to undergrads, grads. No prerequisites. 3 credit hours, with readings, exams, and a paper. Note for Fall 2016, this course will be ENVR 890-001.
A practical experience in a setting relevant to environmental health.
This course examines the relationship between environmental quality, human health and welfare, with particular attention to contamination in human environment; physical, biological, and social factors; trade-offs regarding prevention and remediation measures. Satisfies core School of Public Health requirement. Three lecture hours per week.
An introduction to relevant epidemiologic concepts that inform environmental science research. Learning objectives include discussing basic epidemiologic concepts and measures of disease occurrence in populations, explaining epidemiological study designs for studying associations between risk factors or exposures in populations, evaluating epidemiologic evidence, and comprehending basic ethical principles.
Students will learn about how social, economic, and political factors impact environmental health outcomes and will be introduced to theories and methods for incorporating social determinants frameworks into environmental health research, as well as the role of environmental justice movements.
Required preparation, one year of biology. Environmental systems biology examines how environmental stressors influence the components of a biological system, and how the interactions between these components result in changes in the function and behavior of that system.
Permission of the instructor for nonmajors. The course material introduces the general concepts of assessing environmental exposures to chemicals in human populations. This includes the design of ecologic and personal monitoring studies, the techniques and equipment used for sampling and analysis, and interpretation of data.
Requires some programming experience and basic numerical analysis. Error in computation, solutions of nonlinear equations, interpolation, approximation of functions, Fourier methods, numerical integration and differentiation, introduction to numerical solution of ODEs, Gaussian elimination.
Prerequisites, COMP 116 and MATH 383. Numerical methods for solving problems arising in sciences and engineering. Solution of linear equations using direct and iterative approaches, solution of nonlinear systems of algebraic equations, solution of ordinary differential equations including single and multistep methods, and methods for stiff systems of ODEs and collocation methods for linear and nonlinear PDEs.
Requires an undergraduate course in differential equations. Contour integration, asymptotic expansions, steepest descent/stationary phase methods, special functions arising in physical applications, elliptic and theta functions, elementary bifurcation theory.
Prerequisite, ENVR 461. A first graduate-level course in physical principles relevant to environmental systems. Topics include dimensional analysis, tensor calculus, conservation of mass and momentum. Applications are considered from natural and engineered systems and across all relevant media. Focus is on the development of mechanistic representation of environmental systems.
Prerequisite, ENVR 671. Second part of a graduate-level sequence in physical principles relevant to environmental systems. Topics include turbulence, conservation of energy, multiscale methods, and thermodynamics. Applications are considered from natural and engineered systems and across all relevant media. Focus is on development of mechanistic representation of environmental systems.
This course teaches practical basics of how to solve environmental engineering problems in the hydraulics of pipes, pumps, networks and open channels. The course is a mix of classroom lectures, problem solving sessions, and laboratory sessions Prerequisites PHYS 104 (basic physics), MATH 231 (basic calculus) or equivalents.
This class is designed for graduate students planning for research in air pollution, emphasizing chemical kinetics and engineering approaches to problem solving in addition to atmospheric structure, meteorology, and modeling. We address problems of stratospheric and tropospheric ozone, particulate matter, and acid rain. We emphasize quantitative problem solving in homework.
Course builds on understanding of infectious and toxic hazards, disease causation and environmental transmission . Deals with: hazard and disease classification; ‘safety’; ‘risk’ and vulnerability;interventions and their health impact; approaches in different settings; distal factors (e.g. water scarcity and climate change) and approaches to study of WaSH and health.
This class addresses the complexity and importance of global climate change from several disciplines. A top expert will lecture each week, addressing several themes including the science of human influences on climate, impacts and adaptation, global energy and technology, communication, and economics and international solutions.
Permission of the instructor for undergraduates and nonmajors. Introduces students to methods for research conception, design, planning, and implementation in fields related to water and its impacts on health. Students study approaches and tools that may be applied in water-related research and are coached in developing their own research design.
Permission of the instructor for undergraduates and nonmajors. Familiarizes students with the principles of scientific communication with an emphasis on scientific writing and oral presentations. Using their own water and health research, students learn how to communicate effectively in informal settings and how to prepare for interviews with the media.
Permission of the instructor. Seminar on policy and planning approaches for providing improved community water and sanitation services in developed countries. Topics include the choice of appropriate technology and level of service, pricing, metering, and connection charges; cost recovery and targeting subsidies to the poor; water venting; community participation in the management and operation of water systems; and rent-seeking behavior in the provision of water supplies.
A 2 credit fall course open to doctoral and master’s students with a complete data set with results to communicate to other scientists as a scientific paper or manuscript submission to peer reviewed journals on an aspect of water and health. Undergraduate honors students admissible at discretion of the instructor.
Permission of the instructor. Directed readings or laboratory study of a selected topic. A written report is required in the form of an honors thesis (ENVR 692H).
Students complete honors research projects.
Directed readings or laboratory study. Written reports are required. May be taken more than once for credit. Three to nine hours per week.
Prerequisite, PHCO 702. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Cellular and physiological basis of toxicity of environmental chemicals, with emphasis on inhalation toxicology, developmental toxicology, immunotoxicology, radiation toxicology, renal toxicology, and neurotoxicology. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisite, a previous or concurrent course in microbiology. Theory and practice of biological processes used to remove contaminants from environmental media, including water, wastewater, soil, and air.
Students will select, critically review, and discuss current research papers for content, relevance, innovation, and clarity. Papers can be from any aspect of the environmental sciences. Two lecture hours per week, every other week.
Required preparation, basic or general chemistry. Emphasis on acquiring laboratory skills and hands-on experience with instrumentation including chromatography and mass spectrometry; sample handling and preparation; quality assurance and control. Three lecture hours or one lecture hour and four laboratory hours per week.
Permission of the instructor for nonmajors. Use of mathematical models to design and evaluate regional water supply and treatment systems. Engineering and economic methods are incorporated into quantitative analyses of regional scenarios. Social and political aspects also discussed. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisites, ENVR 419 and 451. Principles of disinfection, oxidation, coagulation, precipitation, sedimentation, filtration, adsorption, ion exchange, and membrane processes; applications to water and wastewater treatment. Three lecture hours per week.
Prerequisite, ENVR 453. Continuum mechanical approach to formulating mass, momentum, energy, and entropy equations to describe multiphase transport phenomena. Three lecture hours per week.
Quantitative assessment of how uncertainty in mechanistic models (subsurface, ocean, atmosphere, global climate), parameters, and auxiliary conditions of a model is manifest in uncertainty in model predictions. Topics include: model formulations, statistical tools, Monte Carlo methods, moment methods, estimation methods, statistical simulation methods, reduced order models, and data assimilation approaches.
Prerequisites, MATH 661 and 662. Single, multistep methods for ODEs: stability regions, the root condition; stiff systems, backward difference formulas; two-point BVPs; stability theory; finite difference methods for linear advection diffusion equations.
Prerequisite, MATH 761. Elliptic equation methods (finite differences, elements, integral equations); hyperbolic conservation law methods (Lax-Fiedrich, characteristics, entropy condition, shock tracking/capturing); spectral, pseudo-spectral methods; particle methods, fast summation, fast multipole/vortex methods.
Prerequisites, MATH 661, 662, 668, and 669. Nondimensionalization and identification of leading order physical effects with respect to relevant scales and phenomena; derivation of classical models of fluid mechanics (lubrication, slender filament, thin films, Stokes flow); derivation of weakly nonlinear envelope equations.
Prerequisites, MATH 661, 662, 668, and 669. Current models in science and technology: topics ranging from material science applications (e.g., flow of polymers and LCPs); geophysical applications (e.g., ocean circulation, quasi-geostrophic models, atmospheric vortices).
Theory and MATLAB numerical implementation of linear geostatistics (simple/ordinary/universal kriging) and modern geostatistics (Bayesian Maximum Entropy) to map environmental and health processes varying across space and time. Applications in exposure assessment, environmental epidemiology, medical geography, and risk assessment.
Prerequisite, ENVR 430. This course provides both practical and theoretical information on biological monitoring of chemical exposures and how to evaluate and interpret exposure data. Three lecture hours per week and a term paper.
Air pollution is formed through thousands of chemical reactions. Computer models are used to simulate this complex chemistry and used to make policy. Current computational restraints force a simplified representation of atmospheric chemistry in these models, and the focus of this course is the implications of this on predictions
This course gives students practice organizing a scientific presentation and speaking in front of an audience and promoting interdisciplinary interaction. Students will research topics and organize presentations for faculty and other students. The topics may be any aspect of air quality and atmospheric sciences.
Attendance at each seminar is mandatory for all students enrolled. It is expected that students will actively participate by asking questions of the speaker. This one credit course is meant to give students practice speaking in front of an audience and to explore topics of their own choosing in detail. Students will research topics and organize presentations for faculty and other students. The topics may be any aspect of air quality and atmospheric sciences and must be approved by the instructor in advance. To help students improve as speakers, each student will receive feedback from the fellow students and the instructor. After your seminar, arrange a time to meet with me to discuss your performance.
Prerequisite, ENVR 673. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. This course helps students learn and apply principles of water supply sewerage and drainage planning and design, work collaboratively on real-world problems with insufficient data, and present technical findings in a clear and convincing way.
Prerequisite, PLAN 710. Basic theory, process, and techniques of public investment planning and decision making, involving synthesis of economic, political, and technologic aspects. Theory underlying benefit-cost analysis, adaptation to a descriptive and normative model for planning public projects and programs.
How can governments, communities, organizations, and businesses fund environmental services? This applied course reviews the diverse tools and strategies that environmental service providers use to pay for programs. The course will focus on environmental services related to: drinking Water, wastewater, storm-water, watershed protection, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainability, and wetlands.
As society’s exposure to environmental risks grows, it has become increasingly important to find innovative tools for mitigating these risks. This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of financial risk management within an environmental context, with an emphasis on developing coupled environmental-financial systems models.
Course offers theoretical foundations in cultural sensitivity, personal security, communication, organization and research along with guided practical exercises in conducting international field research. The result is the development of cross-cultural and applied research skills that prepare the student to conduct successful field research.
Required preparation, calculus. Applications of systems analysis techniques to the management of environmental quality.
In this course, students will learn from community residents who challenge public health scientists to conduct research on environmental and occupational hazards that impact their health. community-driven research, which requires public health scientists and other researchers to modify approaches used in more traditional research conducted for clients in government and industry. This class introduces concepts and methods in community-driven environmental justice research, presents current research and research needs, and offers opportunities for active involvement in problem-solving in environmental justice research.
A practical experience in public health/environmental health sciences.
This course will focus on practical solutions to public health related disasters where students extend, critique, and apply knowledge gained in the classroom. This experience-based course will have flexibility to allow for substantive contributions from students of all backgrounds enrolled in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Consultation with the faculty and approval of subject and proposed program required. Permission of the instructor. May be repeated. Hours and credits to be arranged.
The technical report requirement for M.S.P.H., M.P.H., and M.S.E.E. candidates is satisfied by the extensive study of a problem in environmental sciences and engineering.
The thesis requirement for M.S. candidates is satisfied by the extensive study of a problem in environmental sciences and engineering.
The dissertation requirement for Ph.D. candidates is satisfied by the extensive study of a problem in environmental sciences and engineering.