Academic Curriculum

MSc in Sustainable Energy Development

Interdisciplinary Courses

The curriculum of the program encompasses a comprehensive array of subjects within the sustainable energy sector, ensuring a thorough understanding of its various dimensions. To complete the program requirements, students complete 11 core courses (33 units), select a minimum of two elective courses (six units), and a capstone research project comprising three seminar-style courses (three units).

Drawing upon the diverse expertise within the institution, students receive instruction from faculty members representing the School of Public Policy, Haskayne School of Business, Schulich School of Engineering, School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape, Faculty of Science, and Faculty of Law. This collaborative approach fosters a holistic perspective on sustainable energy, enriching students' educational experience.

Core Courses

SEDV 601 explores the interactions between energy resources and the environment; exploration, production and exploitation of energy resources, including conventional and unconventional oil and gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal. The technical, economic, environmental and policy aspects of production, transportation, and use of both renewable and non-renewable energy will also be covered.

SEDV 603 delves into the fundamental principles that govern the functioning of energy production and consumption systems. The course is designed to provide the students with a solid foundation of methods for energy analysis, resource estimates, environmental impact assessments, and economic cost estimations. This course aims to embrace several scientific, engineering, and economic tools that will allow us to conduct standalone and systems-level assessments of mature and emerging energy technologies.

SEDV 605 provides in depth analysis of Indigenous Peoples and ecological sustainability in relation to energy management. Drawing from systems ecology, ecological economics, cultural anthropology and indigenous rights, conceptual foundations for sustainable development are presented in the global context of Indigenous Peoples and business ethics with primary focus on Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Treaties and government policy are addressed including the duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples with emphasis on reconciliation. Students are familiarized with traditional ecological knowledge and land-use systems and their interface with Western science-based resource management. Differing cultural perceptions and development goals of resource industries and indigenous communities provide a focus for examining cross-cultural communication and strategy, negotiation styles and professional capacity building. Community engagement is presented with attention to intercultural competence for indigenous corporate relations. 

SEDV 613 covers foundational principles in energy economics and policies and financial principles, and their application to energy investment planning and project assessment. The course specifically addresses the overlap of the economic, environmental, and social dimensions to understand how to use economic concepts and tools to evaluate sustainable initiatives, policies, programs, investments, and projects. 

SEDV 615 explores the integration of economic, social, and environmental aspects in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Topics will cover the following: basic principles, history and development of EIA, legal, institutional and theoretical frameworks, processes including environmental inventory, prediction of impacts, mitigation and management, monitoring and evaluation, methodologies, document preparation, management problems in impact assessment, EIA processes used in other countries, cumulative impacts, strategic environmental assessment, international EIA issues, and regulatory components of EIA.

SEDV 619 examines Canadian provincial and federal environmental laws and international environmental law in the context of energy development. The course content will include both a theoretical framework and applied cases. By the end of the course students will become aware of Canadian and international environmental laws and policies and be able to analyze environmental issues in the context of provincial and federal legislation, regulations and case law that govern energy development in Canada.

SEDV 621 examines environmental management challenges and issues faced by the energy sector and discuss key environmental tools that are required to address these issues through a portfolio of management techniques. Topics include environmental management, strategic planning, and policies; sustainable development and the organization, innovation, life cycle assessment; and management processes including audits, development of indicators and reporting, environmental accounting; and economic instruments. 

SEDV 623 provides an overview of the principles of corporate strategy in the context for making environmental decisions, and an overview of various topics related to energy transition with particular focus on evolving electricity systems and the role of hydrocarbons in the global economy.

SEDV 631 introduces the concept of life-cycle assessment (LCA) within the context of life-cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) and their application within the energy sector. Students are introduced to life-cycle thinking and the three dimensions of LCSA: life-cycle assessment, life-cycle costing, and social life-cycle assessment. An introduction to how these dimensions are combined for decision-making is also provided. These concepts are learned through readings, discussions, case studies, individual assignments, and other active learning activities. 

SEDV 633 explores the role of energy and climate policy in the changing energy systems and as tools to overcome barriers to change. Students are introduced to the policy making process and the actors involved along with a broad range of policy tools and how they can be applied. Both the role of historical climate policy and the current policy environment, both domestically and internationally, is given. An introduction to approaches to evaluating policy effectiveness is also provided.

SEDV 635 provides a comprehensive understanding of key concepts in water and air quality, including the implications of pollutants on the environment. Students will recognize the interdependency between energy consumption and water usage, and become acquainted with diverse methods for water reuse. Moreover, they will gain insight into the characteristics of various air pollutants and their chemical behavior, enabling them to assess their environmental effects effectively. Additionally, students will grasp the mechanisms underlying contaminant transport across different media and learn strategies for assessing and mitigating contamination at sites. Furthermore, they will acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct human health and ecological risk assessments, contributing to a holistic understanding of environmental management and sustainability.

Elective Topics

SEDV students are required to take a minimum of two elective courses and topics may change annually. 

In our current economy, we tap into finite resources, use them as products and infrastructure, and, in the process of doing so, create a seemingly continuous stream of waste and wastage. We could call this a ‘linear’ economy. Through smarter design of products, systems, and policies, however, we can adopt more ‘circular’ approaches that benefit businesses, people, and the planet. In this course, we will learn what these benefits look like, from tackling the carbon emissions that remain unaddressed by the energy transition, to driving business and administrative innovation, to reducing household spend. We will start by examining the limitations of the linear economy and of our current fixes to those ailments. Students will learn key terminology, concepts, and principles of the circular economy. Through ample practical examples and exercises in the fields of design, technology, operations, business models, and policy, students will become familiar with some of the tools that can support the circular transition towards better economic, social, and environmental outcomes.  Upon completing this course, students will feel better equipped to apply circular thinking to your other courses and future career.

Application of management principles to the project environment; planning, control, scope, time and cost processes; project organization and human resource issues. Students review a current major capital project and submit and defend a project report.

Focus on idea generation, feasibility analysis, and business model development of early-stage businesses using experiential team-based projects and case analyses.

Building on the foundation laid in SEDV 635, this elective course aims to furnish participants with an expansive comprehension of the complexities surrounding land, water, and air pollution assessment, control, and mitigation. Key topics covered include a broad spectrum of subjects, ranging from land pollution, where students delve into waste characterization, biogas, waste-to-energy conversions, and methodologies for assessing contaminated sites, to industrial waters, exploring issues, challenges, and treatment options, including tertiary water treatment. Furthermore, the course addresses air pollution control comprehensively, touching upon aspects such as air pollutant measurements, strategies for controlling NOX, VOCs, and odors, utilization of air quality tools, examination of air pollutants from energy sector sources and facilities, and considerations for carbon capture and storage. Through this holistic approach, participants gain a nuanced understanding of environmental management techniques essential for addressing contemporary pollution challenges.

Capstone Project

A capstone project is a requirement of this program. Students’ progress through a three course series to develop and complete an interdisciplinary project, reflecting a minimum of three areas of study, with energy and environment as the two anchors. 

In SEDV 640, students engage in the critical task of identifying potential capstone project research questions grounded in the realms of energy, environment, and an additional aspect chosen by the student. Through this process, they hone their abilities to craft research designs and assess the feasibility of investigating various research questions. This involves a systematic approach to evaluating the viability of potential inquiries, narrowing down options, and ultimately selecting the most promising one to develop into a concise proposal. By navigating through this iterative process, students not only strengthen their research skills but also cultivate the ability to tackle complex interdisciplinary challenges at the intersection of energy, environment, and their chosen area of focus.

Continuing from SEDV 640, in SEDV 641, students embark on crafting a thorough proposal aimed at addressing a specific research question. This process involves seeking approval from a supervisor proficient in the chosen topic, with guidance provided by the course instructor. Furthermore, students are tasked with verbally presenting the research question, compellingly articulating its significance to the audience. Throughout the course, students persist in their investigation of the research question, providing progress reports to both the supervisor and the course instructor to ensure ongoing refinement and advancement of their research endeavors.

Building upon the groundwork laid in SEDV 641, SEDV 642 entails a comprehensive exploration of the research question through meticulous literature review, data collection, and analysis across dimensions of energy, environment, and another chosen aspect. Students are tasked with completing a final report, meticulously crafted to professionally elucidate the methodologies employed in the exploration and examination process. Additionally, they are required to present their findings to effectively communicate their discoveries and insights gleaned from the research endeavor. Through this rigorous process, students demonstrate their ability to delve into complex interdisciplinary issues and contribute meaningfully to the fields of energy, environment, and beyond.


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