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Department of Geography & Environmental Management

Bachelor of Environmental Studies

Honours Geography and Aviation (Regular)
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The field of aviation has evolved significantly over the past 50 years and increasingly depends upon advances in geography and technology. Aviation and aerospace industries clearly demand specialists with multidisciplinary educational experience, a comprehensive academic background to help them understand complex aircraft systems, and well-developed analytical, critical thinking, and decision-making skills.

Honours Geography and Aviation is designed to provide a strong environmental, geomatics, and technology base for careers in a very diverse array of aviation and aerospace industries. It consists of an Honours Geography and Aviation Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) degree, combined with a Commercial Pilot Program. The Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre (WWFC) component of the program provides advanced flight training leading to a commercial pilot licence. Coursework includes the essentials of aviation, as well as private and commercial pilot training, an instrument rating, and multi-engine rating.

For more information on the aviation requirements, see the Aviation website.


† Professional Pilot Program courses: 5.0 units. The Professional Pilot Program courses will not count towards any other University of Waterloo program requirement.

‡ ENGL 109 or ENGL 129R must be completed with a grade of 65% or higher. Please see the English Language Proficiency Requirement section for the Faculty of Environment if you fail to meet this requirement.

* Theme courses can be counted towards a specialization.

Year One

AVIA 100 Introduction to Aviation
GEOG 101 Geography and Human Habitat
GEOG 102 Geography and Our Planetary Environment
GEOG 181 Principles of GIScience
ENVS 178 Introduction to Environmental Research Methods
CS 100 Introduction to Computing through Applications

One of:
ENGL 109 Introduction to Academic Writing
ENGL 129R Written Academic English

AVIA 101 Professional Pilot Program Course I (1B) (0.75 unit)

One elective (0.5 unit) 

Year One (Spring)

AVIA 102 Professional Pilot Program Course II (0.5 unit)

Total of 5.25 units

Year Two

GEOG 271 Earth from Space Using Remote Sensing
GEOG 281 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
ENVS 278 Advanced Environmental Research Methods
200- or higher level GEOG course (0.5 unit)

Earth Systems Science* theme, one of:
GEOG 201 Fluvial Geomorphology
GEOG 209 Hydroclimatology

Development and Environment* theme, one of:
GEOG 202 Geography of the Global Economy
GEOG 203 Environment and Development in a Global Perspective

AVIA 203 Professional Pilot Program Course III (2A) (0.5 unit)
AVIA 204 Professional Pilot Program Course IV (2B) (0.75 unit)

Year Two (Spring)

AVIA 205 Professional Pilot Program Course V (0.5 unit)

Total of 4.75 units

Year Three

AVIA 310 Human Factors in Aviation
GEOG 309 Physical Climatology

One of:
GEOG 293 Professional and Scholarly Practice in Geography
GEOG 294 Approaches to Research in Physical Geography

One of:
GEOG 310 Geodesy and Surveying
GEOG 387 Spatial Databases

One of:
GEOG 371 Advanced Remote Sensing Techniques
GEOG 381 Advanced Geographic Information Systems

One elective (0.5 units)

AVIA 306 Professional Pilot Program Course VI (3A) (0.75 unit)
AVIA 307 Professional Pilot Program Course VII (3B) (0.75 unit)

Year Three (Spring)

AVIA 408 Professional Pilot Program Course VIII (0.5 unit)

Total of 5.0 units

Year Four 

300-level GEOG or 400-level GEOG (1.0 units)
400-level GEOG (2.5 units)

Electives (1.5 units)

Total of 5.0 units

For more information on rules governing this program, please see Geography and Environmental Management.


  1. Minimum Required Units
    Total: 20.0 units. University of Waterloo Required Courses: 12.5 units. Major Core Courses GEOG/ENVS/AVIA: 11.5 units. Elective Courses: 2.5 units. Professional Pilot Program Courses: 5.0 units.
    All Geography (GEOG), Environmental Studies (ENVS), and Aviation (AVIA) units (see note 4) are included in the cumulative major average.
  2. Course Load
    No more than 2.75 units may be taken in a term without departmental approval and overall average of 78%.
  3. Maintaining Academic Status
    In order to continue in the Aviation plan, students must maintain the University of Waterloo academic standards (described below) as well as achieve the flight component benchmarks set by WWFC for each semester. Students are expected to maintain passing grades (70%) in all WWFC flight components. Students may be allowed to achieve this by using a "competency-based" approach, so long as they achieve the established benchmarks on time.
  4. Average Requirements
    Students in an Honours Academic Plan must maintain an overall cumulative average of at least 65% and a major cumulative average of at least 70%. Please see Note 1: Minimum Required Units, for major courses for your plan.
    AVIA 101, 102, 203, 204, 205, 306, 307, and 408 are Professional Pilot Program Courses and are not used in average calculations. Grading is Credit Granted (CR) or No Credit Granted, Failure Recorded (NCR).
    All required courses must be passed.
  5. Aviation Costs
    All costs associated with the Professional Pilot Program Courses are paid directly to the Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre (WWFC).
  6. Materials and Costs
    For some courses, extra fees may be required to cover field expenses/travel costs. Statements on extra costs, where required, will be found with the course descriptions.
  7. Independent Study
    Geography and Aviation Honours: Up to three independent study GEOG 475/AVIA 475 courses may be taken.
  8. Transfer Credit - Flight Training
    Transfer consideration of previous flight training or Professional Pilot Program Courses will be at the discretion of the Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre and not determined by the University of Waterloo.
    Students can be granted advanced credits up to and including a Private Pilot Licence. Program hours will be granted up to licence sign off and the remaining hours will be logged as career, not program hours. Students are not accepted past the Private Pilot Licence or if they have acquired a Night Rating. Students entering the program with a Private Licence will be required to attend WWFC's Flight Management Basic Courses as a review. Students who apply with the flight qualifications that meet the standards set by WWFC are eligible for the BES degree upon successful completion of the plan curriculum and transfer of credit for the flight courses.
  9. Transfer Courses - University of Waterloo Courses
    Transfer students are required to complete a minimum of 50% of their University of Waterloo course work and half their Geography units in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo.
  10. Restriction on number of First-Year Courses
    A student must have at least 13.5 units at or above the 200-level.
  11. Double Counting
    A course can be used to satisfy requirements for a maximum of two credentials. Double counting of courses applies as follows: once for the plan and once for a joint honours or concurrent degree, option, minor, diploma, or specialization. There is no limit on the number of courses that may be double counted unless otherwise stated.
    Courses double counted to satisfy Geography and Aviation Honours academic plan requirements, as well as a Department of Geography and Environmental Management Specialization, cannot be applied to any other option, minor, or diploma.
  12. Options/Minors/Diplomas/Specializations
    For more information on options, minors, diplomas or specializations that are available, please visit the Faculty of Environment Academic Plans or departmental section of this calendar.
  13. Fourth Year Geography Course Restrictions
    Fourth year courses are normally restricted to third and fourth year Honours students.


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