Minor in Earth Sciences

A minor in Earth Sciences is available to non-Earth Sciences students in a 120 credit hour degree program within the College of Arts and Science. The Minor is also available to students in some other Faculties (please consult the appropriate section for your Faculty in the Undergraduate Calendar.)

Minor Requirements

Refer to the academic calendar for minimum requirements for minors.


Major or Double Major in Earth Sciences

Earth Sciences BSc Majors complete a minimum of 42 credit hours in Earth Sciences courses above the 1000 level. Honours students complete a minimum of 54 credit hours. Research and other experiential learning opportunities are available through laboratories and research project classes.

Major Requirements

1000 level
  • ERTH 1080: Geology I and ERTH 1090 or ERTH 1091: Geology II
  • MATH 1000: Differential and Integral Calculus I (recommended) or MATH 1215: Life Sciences Calculus or equivalent and one other MATH course
  • CHEM 1011: Concepts in Chemistry: Structure and Reactivity and CHEM 1012: Concepts in Chemistry: Energy and Equilibrium

Students in the Integrated Science Program should contact the department regarding first year equivalencies.

2000 level  
  • ERTH 2001: Mineralogy
  • ERTH 2002: Introduction to Petrology
  • ERTH 2110: Field Methods
  • ERTH 2203: Sediments and Sedimentary Rocks
  • ERTH 2380: Geochemistry
3000 level  
  • ERTH 3001: Field School
  • ERTH 3140: Structural Geology
  • ERTH 3303: Stratigraphy
Additional Courses

A minimum of 18 credit hours at or above the 3000 level.

Double Major Requirements

Students in a Double Major program in Earth Sciences and another subject must complete the following:

Earth Sciences as the primary or secondary subject

1000 level

2000 level and higher

  • A minimum of nine additional credit hours in ERTH at or above the 3000 level

Students in Double Major programs should consult the department when choosing courses. Exceptions to requirements may be made where justified by a student’s particular subject combination.


Honours or Combined Honours in Earth Sciences

The Honours programs are intended for students who combine a high level of academic achievement with a desire to complete independent research during an undergraduate degree. Students who plan to pursue a postgraduate degree (MSc and/or PhD) are recommended to complete an Honours degree.

The Earth Science department offers both Concentrated Honours and Combined Honours degrees. The Concentrated program provides a focused education in Earth Sciences. In their final year, students in Concentrated Honours must register in ERTH4201 and 4202, within which they complete an independent research project leading to a thesis on a topic within the broad realm of Earth Sciences.

Combined Honours programs allow students to combine Earth Sciences with another subject. The other subject may be from any discipline within the Faculty of Science or the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, or may be a program in Computer Science or Environment, Sustainability and Society (ESS).

The thesis may be completed in either Earth Sciences (as ERTH4201 + 4202) or the other subject, and usually in the subject in which the student has the greatest number of courses. The department in which the thesis is written should be chosen in consultation with both departments during the student's third year.

Note: Combined Honours students who complete a thesis in the other subject should consult that department for policies and deadlines regarding their thesis course.

Honours Requirements

Complete the Major program outlined above, plus:

  • PHYC 1190: Introduction to Physics and PHYC 1290: Introduction to Physics (recommended), or PHYC 1310 and 1320 (formerly 1300XY): Physics In and Around You
  • ERTH 2270: Introduction to Applied Geophysics
  • ERTH 4201 and 4202: Honours Thesis
  • One additional ERTH elective at or above the 2000 level
  • A minimum GPA of 3.5 in all ERTH courses and no grade below C in ERTH courses

Combined Honours Requirements

Refer to the academic calendar for minimum requirements for combined honours.

Applying for Honours

Students who intend to do Honours should begin planning a course sequence that meets Honours requirements during their second year of study. Requirements are listed in the Dalhousie Undergraduate Calendar; the calendar for the academic year in which a student began their BSc applies.

The formal application process occurs in the Winter semester of the student's penultimate year (i.e. 3rd year for most students), at which time most of the required second and third year courses have been completed. In that semester, students should do the following:

  1. Conduct a self-check to ensure that Honours GPA and course requirements are satisfied. Planned courses may be used to meet the requirements for the purpose of the application, but they must be completed, and GPA requirements satisfied before graduation or Honours status would be forfeited. The degree requirements for the current academic year are listed on our website under Degree Requirements.
  2. Find an appropriate thesis topic and supervisor (this can be done concurrently with #3 below). It is the responsibility of students to arrange for a supervisor for their thesis research. Honours theses in Earth Sciences may be supervised by a faculty member of the department or by an external scientist, subject to the approval of the Honours Coordinator. Students with an external supervisor who is not a faculty member at Dalhousie must also find a co-supervisor in the Earth Science department. Students should begin to search for a supervisor and topic during the year prior to starting the thesis, and are strongly recommended to have the topic and supervisor in place by May of that year. A list of potential topics and supervisors are posted by the department during the winter semester, but students are encouraged to begin an independent search prior to this posting.
  3. Fill out the Honours Application Form (obtained from the Office of the Registrar) and submit it to the Earth Sciences Undergraduate Advisor. All completed and planned courses must be listed in chronological order (the order in which they were taken) on the Honours Application. The Undergraduate Advisor and the Registrar will check the form to ensure requirements are met.
  4. In consultation with your supervisor, fill out and submit the HONOURS RESEARCH PROJECT AGREEMENT FORM to the Honours Coordinator.
  5. Register in ERTH4201 and 4202 (Honours Thesis), held in the Fall and Winter semesters of the student's final year.

Thesis and Defense

An oral defense follows completion of the thesis. Defenses are held in the Honours Symposium near the end of the winter semester. The defense is graded independently from the thesis and comprises a student's Honours Qualifying Examination. A grade of B- or better must be achieved on the Honours Qualifying Examination. The thesis and defense must be completed by the posted deadline in March or early April. Students who do not meet this date must re-register for the following academic year in ERTH 4201 and 4202, pay the fees, and graduate at the spring convocation of the next academic year.


Professional Registration

Geoscience is a regulated profession in most of Canada. Individual provinces and territories have legislative acts that restrict the practice of geoscience to individuals who are registered members of professional associations. In Nova Scotia, the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Nova Scotia (APGNS) is the licensing body which fulfils this mandate.  APGNS and other provincial Geoscience associations, under the guidance of Geoscientists Canada, ensure high standards of geoscience practice and education, and are committed to holding paramount the health, safety and welfare of the public and the protection of the environment while contributing significantly to the economy.

More Information

For more information about geoscience as a professional and registration, please consult the following websites:

Knowledge Requirements for PGeo

Completing the knowledge requirements for PGeo registration is an important goal for most of our undergraduate students, and one we as a department strongly encourage.