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Faculty of Engineering

Bachelor of Applied Science and Bachelor of Software Engineering Specific Degree Requirements

Geological Engineering
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Geological Engineering is the application of geological knowledge to the siting, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of civil engineering structures and facilities. It is one of the rapidly growing fields of engineering reflecting society’s developing interest in the stewardship of the environment, managing risk, and creating a safer world. The profession has a direct impact on the foundation of the Canadian economy, which is built upon the exploration and development of its vast natural resources in a sustainable manner that protects them for the benefit of future generations. Geological Engineers provide the expertise to develop mines, petroleum reservoirs (oil and natural gas), hydro-electric dams and reservoirs, groundwater and surface water resources, as well as, building and managing the necessary infrastructure to bring the resulting commodities to market. The Geological Engineering profession shares common roots with that of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, and is an interdisciplinary program at the University of Waterloo involving the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as well as, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, in the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Science, respectively.  

The field of geological engineering encompasses a wide range of activities and issues including the geological characterization of complex foundations of major buildings and structures, development of natural resources (mining, water, hydroelectricity, forestry, oil and gas), the engineering safety of major infrastructure (dams, reservoirs, offshore drilling platforms, pipelines, roads and railways), and the assessment of geohazard risk (landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes, and the stability of natural dams). It also includes aspects of such fields as project finance and insurance, forensic geological engineering, and the application of geological knowledge to the repair and preservation of cultural heritage sites. In step with Civil Engineering, Geological Engineering has evolved into an extremely diverse field as the demands of society have evolved, providing opportunities for graduates in many areas of application. Furthermore, the application of computers and electronic instrumentation has revolutionized the practice of Geological Engineering. Consequently our curriculum is being constantly reviewed in order to produce graduate engineers who can use advanced tools to solve complex problems. 

Geological engineering is an attractive discipline for students who wish to pursue the challenge of combining the complexity of nature and engineering design, who are interested in the physical mechanics of the earth’s surface, and who enjoy travel and the outdoors. The subject has seamless transitions to geotechnical engineering and engineering geology.

The Geological Engineering Program at the University of Waterloo delivers a diverse set of core courses that provide the necessary fundamentals in mathematics, geology, and civil engineering. The program also offers the opportunity to take electives from the fields of the social sciences and humanities. Technical electives can be chosen to develop a focus in the following areas: 

Geotechnical Engineering

Familiarizes students with the engineering properties of soils and rocks, the fundamentals of soil and rock mechanics, and the application of geotechnical data and concepts to: the design of foundation elements, soil and rock retaining structures and excavations, as well as, the stability of soil and rock embankments and slopes. The specific focus is on the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure located on or below the earth's surface and geotechnical aspects of geohazards.

Water Resources Engineering

Deals with the planning, management, design and operation of groundwater and surface water supply and distribution systems, flood control and flood hazard mapping, hydrologic and hydraulic aspects of environmental issues, and application of remotely-sensed data to hydrologic and environmental problems.

Water and Waste Management Engineering

Addresses water and waste water treatment, surface and ground water pollution and control, solid and hazardous waste management, contaminant transport and behaviour in the environment. Support areas involving aquatic chemistry, computer modelling, simulation and laboratory experimentation as examples are also stressed. 


Develops technical skills for students to use instrumentation (seismic, electromagnetic, resistivity, gravity, etc.) in order to explore for minerals, as well as, oil and gas reservoirs. In addition, strategies are also presented to adapt these techniques to groundwater resource evaluation and subsurface contaminant monitoring. Non-destructive methodologies are also presented to assess the physical state of infrastructure to optimize operation and maintenance activities.

While the first three areas are shared with Civil Engineering, the fourth is not. The Geological Engineering Program is designed to enhance the students' knowledge in topics associated with earth processes. Hence, the Geological Engineering student will have a greater knowledge of details such as the mineralogical structure and associated mechanical and fluid conductance properties of various types of soils and rocks, as well as, their genesis and evolution due to mechanisms such as weathering, deposition and metamorphism, and weathering. These details enable the Geological Engineer to significantly expand upon and utilize the focused knowledge gained from these areas of focus in practice.

Canada has a global reach in Geological Engineering and professional job prospects upon graduation are excellent. Employment opportunities for Geological Engineers are available in the areas of petroleum geology and engineering, geohazard characterization and risk assessment (especially landslides), mining geology and mine design, foundations engineering and buried infrastructure, groundwater and surface water management, geophysics, coastal engineering and granular material supply. An increasing amount of activity lies in the geotechnical investigations associated with mine development, geomechanical aspects of petroleum recovery (both conventional and unconventional, such as tar sands development and in-situ heavy oil extraction), and in the field of landslide hazard assessment and remediation. Geotechnical expertise is also required in infrastructure projects, particularly in capital works and operation and maintenance activities associated with tunnels, roads, railways, buildings, airports, shorelines, underground storage, and waste disposal facilities. The Geological Engineering graduate focusing in hydrogeology and subsurface fluid flow can become involved in environmental site evaluation, groundwater resource management and contaminated site restoration, as well as, geothermal and petroleum resource exploration and development. 

Faculty Options

Complete details of designated options available to engineering students are provided in this Calendar in the Engineering section entitled Options, Specializations and Electives for Engineering Students. Students who satisfy option requirements will have the designation on their transcript and diploma. Three of the available options of specific interest to students in Geological Engineering are briefly summarized below. 

Option in Management Sciences

The Option in Management Sciences provides an understanding of the issues, concepts, and techniques related to the management of technology. The Option consists of a sequence of six courses. A student who wishes to follow the Management Sciences Option must declare their intent before starting the 2B term. For further details see the Engineering Management Sciences section. 

Option in International Studies in Engineering

With the increasing emphasis on globalization of resource and environmental management, Geological Engineers are becoming actively involved on international projects overseas. The Option in International Studies in Engineering will provide the student with the opportunity of enriching their education through language and cultural studies, and will also involve work experience in an international setting.

Option in Water Resources

Students in Geological Engineering may choose to expand their studies to include a broader range of topics in water resource management. The Option in Water Resources provides a combined emphasis on surface water and groundwater resources in both technical and social issues.

Accelerated Master’s Program in Engineering

The Faculty of Engineering offers an Accelerated Master’s Program. See Accelerated Master’s Programs in Engineering section for more details.   


+ This course is offered after winter term exams are finished in April. It is two weeks long, finishing before the spring term begins.

Academic Program (For students entering 1A in fall 2015 and later)

Term 1A (Fall)

CHE 102 Chemistry for Engineers
ENVE 100 Environmental and Geological Engineering Concepts
CIVE 104 Mechanics 1
CIVE 115 Linear Algebra
MATH 116 Calculus 1 for Engineering
CSE 1 Approved Complementary Studies Elective

Term 1B (Spring)

CIVE 105 Mechanics 2
CIVE 121 Computational Methods 
GENE 123 Electrical Circuits and Instrumentation 
GEOE 153 Earth Engineering
MATH 118 Calculus 2 for Engineering

Term 2A (Winter)

EARTH 238 Introductory Structural Geology
ENVE 223 Differential Equations and Balance Laws 
ENVE 224 Probability and Statistics
ENVE 280 Fluid Mechanics
CSE 2 Approved Complementary Studies Elective 
GEOE 298 Seminar

Term 2B (Fall)

CIVE 204 Solid Mechanics 1
CIVE 221 Advanced Calculus
EARTH 231 Mineralogy
EARTH 235 Stratigraphic Approaches to Understanding Earth's History
EARTH 260 Applied Geophysics 1
CSE 3 Approved Complementary Studies Elective 
GEOE 299 Seminar
WKRPT 200 Work-term Report

Term 3A (Spring)

CIVE 353 Geotechnical Engineering 1
CIVE 392 Economics and Life Cycle Analysis (List B-Engineering Economics CSE) 
EARTH 232 Petrography 
EARTH 458 Physical Hydrogeology
EARTH 458L Field Methods in Hydrogeology
GEOE 398 Seminar
WKRPT 300 Work-term Report

Technical Electives (choose 1)

ARCH 277 Timber: Design, Structure and Construction for Engineers
CIVE 205 Solid Mechanics 2
EARTH 221 Geochemistry 1

Term 3B (Winter)

CIVE 382 Hydrology and Open Channel Flow
EARTH 333 Introductory Sedimentology
EARTH 390 Methods in Geological Mapping + 
EARTH 437 Rock Mechanics
EARTH 438 Engineering Geology 
CSE 4 Approved Complementary Studies Elective
GEOE 399 Seminar

Term 4A (Fall)

CIVE 354 Geotechnical Engineering 2
GEOE 400 Geological Engineering Design Project 1
GEOE 498 Seminar 
WKRPT 400 Work-term Report
Three technical electives
Technical electives

CIVE 306 Mechanics of Solids 3
CIVE 310 Introduction to Structural Design
CIVE 375 Environmental Engineering Principles
EARTH 331 Volcanology and Igneous Petrology
EARTH 332 Metamorphic Petrology
EARTH 342 Geomorphology and GIS Applications 
EARTH 359 Flow Through Porous Media
EARTH 421 Geochemistry 2
EARTH 440 Quaternary Geology
EARTH 444 Applied Wetland Science
EARTH 461 Applied Geophysics 3 (Earth 461 and Earth 461L count as one technical elective) and
  EARTH 461L Field Methods in Applied Geophysics 

Term 4B (Winter)

CIVE 554 Geotechnical Engineering 3
GEOE 401 Geological Engineering Design Project 2
GEOE 499 Seminar
GENE 411 Engineering Law and Ethics (List D-Other CSE)
Two technical electives 
Technical electives

CHE 514 Fundamentals of Petroleum Production
CIVE 303 Structural Analysis 1
CIVE 332 Civil Systems and Project Management
CIVE 422 Finite Element Analysis
CIVE 460 Engineering Biomechanics
CIVE 507 Building Science and Technology
CIVE 542 Pavement Structural Design
CIVE 583 Design of Urban Water Systems
EARTH 435 Advanced Structural Geology
EARTH 444 Applied Wetland Science
EARTH 456 Numerical Methods in Hydrogeology
EARTH 459 Chemical Hydrogeology
EARTH 460 Applied Geophysics 2
EARTH 471 Mineral Deposits
ENVE 383 Advanced Hydrology and Hydraulics
ENVE 573 Contaminant Transport
ENVE 577 Engineering for Solid Waste Management


  1. The availability of some elective courses is contingent upon sufficient demand, scheduling constraints, and teaching resources.
  2. Each proposed program of study should be reviewed by the faculty advisor to ensure that it (a) satisfies prescribed minimum requirements with respect to Mathematics, Science, Engineering Science, Engineering Design and Complementary Studies, and (b) satisfies prerequisite requirements.


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