Department of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences

Undergraduate Concentrations

DEEPS provides a highly collaborative learning environment that emphasizes process-oriented, active learning in courses, in research labs, and on field trips.

Our concentrations build students' skills in critical thinking, applying systems approaches to solving complex problems, data analysis and modeling (including remote sensing and machine learning), written and oral communication, and teamwork and leadership. With these skills, students are well-prepared for a wide variety of careers in governmental agencies and NGOs, environmental consulting companies, data science and the tech industry, university faculty positions, and education at all levels, and much more.

DEEPS undergraduate students are offered the flexibility of A.B. or Sc.B. degrees in four concentration options, which integrate concepts from biology, chemistry, physics, math, and computing to study processes at the surface and in the interior of the Earth and other planetary bodies, including key problems related to the environment and our changing climate, and natural hazards such as earthquakes and volcanoes.

There are typically 60+ concentrators within the department and 20 graduates per year, 80% of which complete a capstone Senior Thesis. Undergraduates also have many opportunities to engage in research throughout their years at Brown and to enjoy other hands-on learning experiences.

NOTE: In 2024, the department implemented changes to the DEEPS Undergraduate Concentration names and requirements. Graduating fourth-year concentrators will continue to use the former concentration names. However, second and third-year concentrators may have the option to graduate under the new concentration names and requirements. For further details, we recommend students reach out to their advisor or contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Earth and Planetary Science

Earth and Planetary Science is a highly interdisciplinary concentration employing principles from physics, chemistry, and biology to understand processes on and in the Earth and other planetary bodies. Concentrators can study Earth and planetary interiors, including the formation of rocks and minerals, movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, and mountain building and volcanism. Other areas emphasize surface processes, such as coastal erosion, formation of water resources, and desertification. This concentration is a good choice for students who seek a broad scientific understanding of the processes that shape the physical world around us.

Both A.B. and Sc.B. degrees are offered, requiring 12 and 19 courses, respectively. These degrees build skills in critical thinking, data analysis and modeling, applying systems approaches to problem-solving, and written and oral communication. They prepare students for a wide variety of careers, including environmental consulting, academia, government agencies (e.g. NASA, NOAA, the EPA, and the USGS), non-governmental agencies (NGOs), technology companies, and the green energy sector. DEEPS provides a highly collaborative learning environment that emphasizes process-oriented, hands-on approaches in the classroom, in labs, and on field trips. There are many opportunities for students to do paid research during the academic year or in the summer.

Students interested in this concentration may also wish to consider related concentrations: Earth, Climate and Biology, Geophysics and Climate Physics, and Geochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

This program provides a broad introduction to the geosciences. It is recommended for students seeking to combine diverse educational interests with a general understanding of Earth processes and Earth history. It is attractive for double concentrations, such as geoscience and economics as a career path to law or business, or geoscience and English as a career path to journalism or technical writing. Some course requirements may be flexible based on consultation with the concentration advisor.

Basic supporting science courses    
CHEM 0330  Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure (or equivalent)    
Two courses to build quantitative skills:          
   MATH 0090  Single Variable Calculus, Part I (or higher)
   BIOL 0495  Statistical Analysis of Biological Data 
or  APMA 1650 – Statistical Inference I
   CSCI 0111  Computing Foundations: Data (or higher)
   ENGN 0040  Dynamics and Vibrations (or higher)
   APMA 0350  Applied Ordinary Differential Equations (or higher)
   PHYS 0050  Foundations of Mechanics (or higher)
Nine Concentration courses    
Two of these four fundamentals courses:    
EEPS 0220   Understanding Earth and Environmental Processes    
EEPS 0230   Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes    
EEPS 0240   Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet    
EEPS 0250   Computational Approaches to Modelling and Quantitative Analysis in Natural Sciences: An Introduction
Select three of the following:         
   EEPS 1240  Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
   EEPS 1410  Mineralogy
   EEPS 1420  Petrology
   EEPS 1450  Structural Geology
Two additional upper-level EEPS courses or an approved substitute such as a field course.
One additional upper-level science or math course with approval from the concentration advisor.
Total Credits: 12

This program is recommended for students interested in more in-depth study in geoscience, planetary science, and related fields, potentially including graduate school and wide-ranging careers in these areas.  Some course requirements may be flexible based on consultation with the concentration advisor.

Basic supporting science courses    
CHEM 0330  Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure (or equivalent)    
Four courses to build quantitative skills:    
   MATH 0090  Single Variable Calculus, Part I (or higher)
   BIOL 0495  Statistical Analysis of Biological Data    
or APMA 1650  Statistical Inference I
   CSCI 0111  Computing Foundations: Data (or higher)
   APMA 0350  Applied Ordinary Differential Equations (or higher)
   ENGN 0040  Dynamics and Vibrations (or higher)
   PHYS 0050  Foundations of Mechanics (or higher)
   EEPS 0250  Computational Approaches to Modelling and Quantitative Analysis in Natural Sciences: An Introduction
Fourteen Concentration courses    
EEPS 0220    Understanding Earth and Environmental Processes    
EEPS 0230    Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes    
EEPS 0240    Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet    
Three of the following:    
   EEPS 1240  Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
   EEPS 1410  Mineralogy
   EEPS 1420  Petrology
   EEPS 1450  Structural Geology
Three additional upper-level EEPS courses or an approved substitute such as a field course    
Four upper-level science or math courses with approval from the concentration advisor    
EEPS 1970    Individual Study of Geologic Problems (Senior Research Thesis)
Total Credits: 19

Earth, Climate, and Biology

Students in Earth, Climate, and Biology apply principles from geology, biology, chemistry, and physics to understand how major components of the Earth, such as its atmosphere and oceans, interact with and sustain life in the past, present, and into the future. Many courses emphasize climate change, environmental quality, and biogeochemistry, so this concentration is a good match for students interested in studying the environment. Other areas emphasize Earth history, including climate change, extinction events, and using the Earth’s sedimentary record to investigate environmental change.

Both A.B. and Sc.B. degrees are offered, requiring 12 and 19 courses, respectively. These degrees build skills in critical thinking, data analysis, and modeling, applying systems approaches to problem-solving, and written and oral communication. They prepare students for a wide variety of careers, including environmental consulting, academia, government agencies (e.g. NASA, NOAA, the EPA, and the USGS), non-governmental agencies (NGOs), technology companies, and the green energy sector. DEEPS provides a highly collaborative learning environment that emphasizes process-oriented, hands-on approaches in the classroom, in labs, and on field trips. There are many opportunities for students to do paid research during the academic year or in the summer.

Students interested in this concentration may also wish to consider related concentrations: Geochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, Geophysics and Climate Physics, and Earth and Planetary Science.
 

This program provides a broad introduction to the geologic and biologic processes that shape the Earth and our environment. It is recommended for students seeking to combine diverse educational interests with a general understanding of Earth processes, including the evolution of climate and the environment, global environmental change, and Earth history. The program prepares students for careers in environmental science, geoscience, ecology, oceanography, and global change. Some course requirements may be flexible based on consultation with the concentration advisor.

Basic supporting science courses    
BIOL 0200    The Foundation of Living Systems
or BIOL 0210    Diversity of Life
CHEM 0330    Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure (or equivalent)
A course to build quantitative skills:    
   MATH 0090  Single Variable Calculus, Part I
   BIOL 0495  Statistical Analysis of Biological Data    
or APMA 1650  Statistical Inference I
   CSCI 0111    Computing Foundations: Data (or higher)
   ENGN 0040  Dynamics and Vibrations (or higher)
   PHYS 0050   Foundations of Mechanics (or higher)
   APMA 0350   Applied Ordinary Differential Equations
Nine Concentration courses: 
Two of these four fundamentals courses:
   EEPS 0220    Understanding Earth and Environmental Processes    
   EEPS 0230    Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes
   EEPS 0240    Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet    
   EEPS 0250    Computational Approaches to Modelling and Quantitative Analysis in Natural Sciences: An Introduction
EEPS 1240    Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
Select three upper-level Biology courses such as:   
   BIOL 0410  Invertebrate Zoology
   BIOL 0420  Principles of Ecology
   BIOL 0430 The Evolution of Plant Diversity
   BIOL 0480  Evolutionary Biology
   BIOL 1470  Conservation Biology
Three upper-level EEPS courses such as:    
One of EEPS 0220, EEPS 0230, EEPS 0240, or EEPS 0250 if not already taken    
   EEPS 0850   Weather and Climate
   EEPS 1120   Paleoceanography
   EEPS 1130   Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
   EEPS 1150   Limnology: The Study of Lakes
   EEPS 1310   Global Water Cycle
   EEPS 1320   Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
   EEPS 1370   Environmental Geochemistry
   EEPS 1615   Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
   EEPS 1970   Individual Study of Geologic Problems
Total Credits: 12

This program is recommended for students interested in more in-depth study in the Earth, environmental, or biological sciences, potentially including graduate school and diverse careers in these areas. It is relevant for students interested in environmental science, paleoclimate, Earth systems science, biogeochemistry, oceanography, or paleobiology. Some course requirements may be flexible based on consultation with the concentration advisor.

Five basic supporting science courses    
BIOL 0200    The Foundation of Living Systems (or equivalent)
or BIOL 0210    Diversity of Life
CHEM 0330    Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure (or equivalent)
Three courses to build quantitative skills:
   MATH 0090  Single Variable Calculus, Part I (or higher)
   BIOL 0495  Statistical Analysis of Biological Data    
or APMA 1650  Statistical Inference I
   CSCI 0111  Computing Foundations: Data (or higher)
   ENGN 0040  Dynamics and Vibrations (or higher)
   APMA 0350  Applied Ordinary Differential Equations (or higher)
   PHYS 0050  Foundations of Mechanics (or higher)
Fourteen concentration courses    
EEPS 0220    Understanding Earth and Environmental Processes    
EEPS 0240    Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet    
EEPS 0230    Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes
or EEPS 0250    Computational Approaches to Modelling and Quantitative Analysis in Natural Sciences: An Introduction
EEPS 1240    Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
Three upper-level Biology courses such as:
   BIOL 0410  Invertebrate Zoology
   BIOL 0420  Principles of Ecology
   BIOL 0430 The Evolution of Plant Diversity
   BIOL 0480  Evolutionary Biology
   BIOL 1470  Conservation Biology
Three upper-level EEPS courses such as:    
   EEPS 0850   Weather and Climate
   EEPS 1120   Paleoceanography
   EEPS 1130   Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
   EEPS 1150   Limnology: The Study of Lakes
   EEPS 1310   Global Water Cycle
   EEPS 1320   Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Applications
   EEPS 1330   Global Environmental Remote Sensing
   EEPS 1370   Environmental Geochemistry
   EEPS 1430   Principles of Planetary Climate
   EEPS 1615   Making Connections: The Environmental Policy Process
Three upper-level science or math courses with approval from the concentration advisor    
EEPS 1970    Individual Study of Geologic Problems (Senior Research Thesis)
Total Credits: 19

Geochemistry and Environmental Chemistry

Geochemistry and Environmental Chemistry offers two different emphases. Low-temperature geochemistry involves the study of chemical and biochemical processes on and near Earth’s surface, including land, oceans, and freshwater bodies, and how the geochemical record reflects climate conditions. High-temperature geochemistry includes the study of the formation and evolution of the Earth and other planets, magma formation and properties, volcanic activity, and metamorphism.  

Both A.B. and Sc.B. degrees are offered, requiring 12 and 19 courses, respectively. These degrees build skills in critical thinking, data analysis, and modeling, applying systems approaches to problem-solving, and written and oral communication. They prepare students for a wide variety of careers, including environmental consulting, academia, government agencies (e.g. NASA, NOAA, the EPA, and the USGS), non-governmental agencies (NGOs), technology companies, and the green energy sector. DEEPS provides a highly collaborative learning environment that emphasizes process-oriented, hands-on approaches in the classroom, in labs, and on field trips. There are many opportunities for students to do paid research during the academic year or in the summer.

Students interested in this concentration may also wish to consider related concentrations: Earth, Climate and Biology, Geophysics and Climate Physics, and Earth and Planetary Science.

 

 

This program is recommended for students interested in applying chemical and physical principles toward an understanding of Earth and planetary history and processes, and environmental and resource issues, while pursuing diverse academic goals. The program prepares students for careers in environmental science, Earth and planetary science, and global change. Some course requirements may be flexible based on consultation with the concentration advisor.

Three basic supporting science courses    
CHEM 0330    Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure
Two courses to build quantitative skills:    
   BIOL 0495  Statistical Analysis of Biological Data    
or APMA 1650  Statistical Inference I
   MATH 0090  Single Variable Calculus, Part I (or higher)
   ENGN 0040  Dynamics and Vibrations (or higher)
   CSCI 0111  Computing Foundations: Data (or higher)
   APMA 0350  Applied Ordinary Differential Equations (or higher)
   PHYS 0050   Foundations of Mechanics (or higher)
Nine Concentration courses
Two of these four fundamentals courses:
EEPS 0220  Understanding Earth and Environmental Processes    
EEPS 0230  Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes
EEPS 0240  Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet    
EEPS 0250  Computational Approaches to Modelling and Quantitative Analysis in Natural Sciences: An Introduction
Three additional chemistry courses such as:
   CHEM 0350   Organic Chemistry I
   CHEM 0360   Organic Chemistry II
   CHEM 0500   Inorganic Chemistry
   CHEM 1060   Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
   CHEM 1140   Physical Chemistry: Quantum Chemistry    
   CHEM 1150   Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
   BIOL 0280   Biochemistry
Two courses from the following:    
   EEPS 1410   Mineralogy
   EEPS 1420   Petrology
   EEPS 1130   Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
   EEPS 1370   Environmental Geochemistry
Two additional upper-level EEPS courses or substitutes with approval from the concentration advisor.  
Total Credits: 12

This program is recommended for students interested in more in-depth study in geochemistry, climate science, planetary science, and related fields, potentially including graduate school and wide-ranging careers in these areas. Some course requirements may be flexible based on consultation with the concentration advisor. 

Basic Supporting Science Courses:    
CHEM 0330    Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure
Four courses to build quantitative skills:    
   MATH 0090 Single Variable Calculus, Part I (or higher)
   BIOL 0495  Statistical Analysis of Biological Data
or APMA 1650  Statistical Inference I
   CSCI 0111  Computing Foundations: Data
   ENGN 0040  Dynamics and Vibrations (or higher)
   APMA 0350  Applied Ordinary Differential Equations (or higher)
   PHYS 0050  Foundations of Mechanics (or higher)
   EEPS 0250  Computational Approaches to Modelling and Quantitative Analysis in Natural Sciences: An Introduction
Fourteen Concentration Courses    
EEPS 0220    Understanding Earth and Environmental Processes    
EEPS 0230    Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes
EEPS 0240    Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet    
EEPS 1370    Environmental Geochemistry
EEPS 1410    Mineralogy
Three additional chemistry courses such as:
   CHEM 0350   Organic Chemistry I
   CHEM 0360   Organic Chemistry II
   CHEM 0500   Inorganic Chemistry
   CHEM 1060   Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
   CHEM 1140   Physical Chemistry: Quantum Chemistry    
   CHEM 1150   Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
   BIOL 0280   Biochemistry
Two upper-level courses from EEPS    
   EEPS 1130   Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
   EEPS 1240   Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
   EEPS 1380   Environmental Stable Isotopes
   EEPS 1420   Petrology
Three additional upper-level science or math courses with approval from the concentration advisor  
EEPS 1970    Individual Study of Geologic Problems
Total Credits: 19

Geophysics and Climate Physics

Geophysics and Climate Physics involves applying physics and mathematics to study processes that operate on and within the Earth and other planets, over short and long timescales. Geophysical approaches are fundamental for understanding how the oceans, atmosphere, and ice sheets respond to climate change, managing resources such as water and geothermal energy, mitigating natural hazards such as earthquakes and volcanoes, and understanding the dynamic processes that shape the surfaces and control the interiors of Earth and other planetary bodies. Geophysics spans both theoretical modeling of physical processes and the analysis of geophysical data (including remote sensing and machine learning) and typically involves computing, as well as lab experiments and fieldwork. 

Both A.B. and Sc.B. degrees are offered, requiring 12 and 19 courses, respectively. These degrees build skills in critical thinking, data analysis, and modeling, applying systems approaches to problem-solving, and written and oral communication. They prepare students for a wide variety of careers, including remote sensing, data science, and climate modeling, in settings such as environmental consulting, academia, government agencies (e.g. NASA, NOAA, the EPA, and the USGS), non-governmental agencies (NGOs), technology companies, and the green energy sector. DEEPS provides a highly collaborative learning environment that emphasizes process-oriented, hands-on approaches in the classroom, in labs, and on field trips. There are many opportunities for students to do paid research during the academic year or in the summer.

Students interested in this concentration may also wish to consider related concentrations: Earth, Climate and Biology, Geochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, and Earth and Planetary Science.

This program is recommended for students interested in applying physical and mathematical principles toward understanding and modeling processes affecting Earth, its environment and climate, and other planets. Its requirements are well-suited to students seeking to combine these fields with other educational interests while preparing them for diverse careers including environmental science, global change, and Earth and planetary science. Some course requirements may be flexible based on consultation with the concentration advisor.

Five supporting science courses:    
CHEM 0330  Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure (or equivalent)
A course involving mechanics such as:    
   PHYS 0050  Foundations of Mechanics
   PHYS 0070  Analytical Mechanics
   ENGN 0040  Dynamics and Vibrations (or equivalent)
Three courses in APMA or MATH, one of which must be APMA 0350 or equivalent. 
Seven concentration courses:
Two of these four fundamentals courses:    
   EEPS 0220  Understanding Earth and Environmental Processes    
   EEPS 0230  Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes 
   EEPS 0240 Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet 
   EEPS 0250  Computational Approaches to Modelling and Quantitative Analysis in Natural Sciences: An Introduction
or EEPS 0350  Mathematical Methods of Fluid
One of these courses: 
   EEPS 1430  Principles of Planetary Climate
   EEPS 1610  Solid Earth Geophysics
Two of the following courses, can combine different focii:
Climate focus: 
   EEPS 1310  Global Water Cycle
   EEPS 1510  Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
   EEPS 1520  Ocean Circulation and Climate    
Solid Earth and Planets focus: 
   EEPS 1410  Mineralogy
   EEPS 1450  Structural Geology
   EEPS 1620  Continuum Physics of the Solid Earth
Data Science focus: 
   EEPS 1340  Machine Learning for the Earth and Environment    
or DATA 1340  Machine Learning for the Earth and Environment (EEPS 1340).
   EEPS 1690  Introduction to Methods in Data Analysis
   EEPS 1720  Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning    
or DATA 1720  Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning (EEPS 1720)
One additional EEPS course such as:    
Climate focus: 
   EEPS 1130  Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
   EEPS 1470  Sea Level Rise (And Fall)
   EEPS 1630  Glaciology
   EEPS 1820  Geophysical Fluid Dynamics: Rotating, Stratified Turbulence Edition
Solid Earth and Planets focus:    
   EEPS 1560  Global Tectonics
   EEPS 1650  Earthquake Seismology
   EEPS 1810  Physics of Planetary Evolution
Data Science focus: 
   EEPS 1330  Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Other alternatives:
   EEPS 1970  Individual Study of Geologic Problems
   a field or sea course or any EEPS course listed in the concentration
One course in physics or engineering such as:    
   PHYS 0060  Foundations of Electromagnetism and Modern Physics
   PHYS 0470  Electricity and Magnetism
   PHYS 0500  Advanced Classical Mechanics
   PHYS 1600  Computational Physics
   ENGN 0310  Mechanics of Solids and Structures
   ENGN 0490  Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering
   ENGN 0510  Electricity and Magnetism
   ENGN 0810  Fluid Mechanics
   ENGN 1370  Advanced Engineering Mechanics
Total Credits: 12

This program is recommended for students interested in more in-depth study in climate science, geophysics, planetary science, and related fields, potentially including graduate school and careers in these areas. Students will gain hands-on experience with theoretical and numerical modeling of processes, data analysis, and computing. Some course requirements may be flexible based on consultation with the concentration advisor.

Five supporting science courses:    
CHEM 0330    Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure
A course involving mechanics such as:    
   PHYS 0050   Foundations of Mechanics
   PHYS 0070   Analytical Mechanics
   ENGN 0040   Dynamics and Vibrations (or equivalent)
Three courses in APMA or MATH, one of which must be APMA 0350 or equivalent. 
Fourteen Concentration Courses:    
EEPS 0220    Understanding Earth and Environmental Processes    
EEPS 0230    Geochemistry: Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes
or EEPS 0240   Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet  
EEPS 0250    Computational Approaches to Modelling and Quantitative Analysis in Natural Sciences: An Introduction
or EEPS 0350    Mathematical Methods of Fluid
EEPS 1430    Principles of Planetary Climate
EEPS 1610   Solid Earth Geophysics
Three of the following courses, can combine different focii:
Climate focus: 
   EEPS 1310  Global Water Cycle
   EEPS 1510  Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
   EEPS 1520  Ocean Circulation and Climate    
Solid Earth and Planets focus: 
   EEPS 1410  Mineralogy
   EEPS 1450  Structural Geology
   EEPS 1620  Continuum Physics of the Solid Earth
Data Science focus: 
   EEPS 1340  Machine Learning for the Earth and Environment
   EEPS 1690  Introduction to Methods in Data Analysis
   EEPS 1720  Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning
One additional EEPS course such as:    
Climate focus: 
   EEPS 1130  Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
   EEPS 1630  Glaciology
   EEPS 1470  Sea Level Rise (And Fall)
   EEPS 1820  Geophysical Fluid Dynamics: Rotating, Stratified Turbulence Edition
Solid Earth and Planets focus: 
   EEPS 1560  Global Tectonics
   EEPS 1650  Earthquake Seismology
   EEPS 1810  Physics of Planetary Evolution
Data Science focus: 
   EEPS 1330  Global Environmental Remote Sensing
Other alternatives: 
 a field or sea course
or any EEPS course listed in the concentration
Three courses in physics or engineering such as:    
   PHYS 0060  Foundations of Electromagnetism and Modern Physics
   PHYS 0470  Electricity and Magnetism
   PHYS 0500  Advanced Classical Mechanics
   PHYS 1600  Computational Physics
   ENGN 0310  Mechanics of Solids and Structures
   ENGN 0490  Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering
   ENGN 0510  Electricity and Magnetism
   ENGN 0810  Fluid Mechanics
   ENGN 1370  Advanced Engineering Mechanics
One additional upper-level science or math course with approval from the concentration advisor    
EEPS 1970    Individual Study of Geologic Problems
Total Credits: 19