Program Overview

Program Overview Image



Land and water are essential resources required to sustain:
  • human needs for food security and all forms of usable energy,
  • healthy and productive ecosystems,
  • and thus, LIFE!

Managing land and water as an integrated system provides a framework to aid society to achieve the goals of improved quality of life, a healthy environment and human equity in an era of global climate change and urban expansion.

The innovative Master of Land and Water Systems (MLWS) program provides the credibility and recognition of a professional degree that can serve practicing resource managers and the informed public. The program is aimed at graduates from cognate undergraduate academic programs to provide the necessary credentials to address the emerging global concerns of land and water resources conservation and management to meet both human and environmental needs. The program is particularly useful for practicing professionals seeking to acquire innovative skills and training.

In the MLWS program, students develop science-based skills, training and knowledge in natural resources and environmental sciences and effective communication alternatives. Students address the emerging environmental issues of food security, maintenance of ecological services, restoration of degraded lands, climate change adaptation and resource conservation. The program complements academic and professional expertise in disciplines including earth sciences, biology, soil science, hydrology, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, forest sciences and more. The program provides recent graduates and practicing professionals the academic qualifications to aid in the quest for a livable planet.

Degree Requirements & Guidelines

The MLWS degree is a 12-month program that includes 33 credits of coursework, consisting of 21 credits of required courses plus 12 credits of electives. Of the 33 credits, 6 credits may be at the 300 – 400 level, and 27 credits must be at the 500 – level or higher.

The MLWS program is offered on a full-time basis. Full-time students will normally begin in September and complete their program at the end of August in the following year, thus completing the degree in 12 months of intensive study. All students must complete as a minimum of two academic terms. Please review the Tuition page to clarify the costs.

Each student will be required to register for LWS 548 (6 credits) and complete a “major project”. This may be conducted off-campus and may be co-supervised by a recognized professional (for example, a Professional Agrologist, Biologist, Forester, Geoscientist, etc.) and a UBC Faculty member.

Each student’s academic record will be reviewed at the end of the first term with recommendations for continuation.

Required courses (21 credits)

*If you have any questions, please email us at

  • LWS 510 (3) Land and Water Seminar Series (Term 1-2)
  • LWS 501 (3) Advanced Soil Processes (Term 1)
  • AT LEAST ONE of LWS 515 (3) Watershed Science (Term 1) OR LWS 517 (3) Land and Water Resources Evaluation (Term 1) (Note: Student can get credit for both towards the degree)
  • LWS 550 (3) Professional Communication Strategies (Term 2)
  • FRE 302 (3) Small Business Management (Term 2)
  • LWS 548 (6) Major Project (Term 1-2)
Because this is a professional degree, a Master’s thesis is not required. Instead, students carry out a major project throughout the 12-month duration of the program under the co-supervision of a UBC Faculty Member and a Professional Advisor. There is no designated classroom time.

Elective courses (12 credits)

*Note: Not all elective courses listed below are offered every academic year. We try to keep our website up to date but double-check the UBC Course Calendar to see if the course is offered during the duration of your program. Check that you have course prerequisites or equivalents. Other courses may be substituted with the permission of the MLWS Academic Coordinator. To register for courses, visit the UBC Student Service Centre (SSC).

  • SOIL 502 (3) Advanced Sustainable Soil Management (Term 2)
  • SOIL 503 (3) Advanced Soil Sampling, Analysis and Data Interpretation (Term 1) (not offered in the 2020/2021 Winter Session)
  • SOIL 516 (3) Urban Watershed Management (Term 1) (not offered in the 2020/2021 Winter Session)
  • SOIL 518 (3) Water in International Development (Term 2)
  • SOIL 520 (3) Agricultural Watershed Management (not offered in the 2020/2021 Winter Session)


    • EOSC 329 (3) Groundwater Hydrology (Term 1)
    • EOSC 330 (3) Principles of Geomorphology (Term 2)
    • EOSC 474 (3) Marine Pollution (Term 1)
    • EOSC 429 (3) Groundwater Contamination (Term 2)
    • EOSC 533 (3) Advanced Groundwater Hydrology (Term 1)

    • FRE 385 (3) Quantitative Methods for Business and Resource Management (Term 2)

    • CONS 495 (3) Principles of Managing Problem Wildlife in Forests & Agricultural Environments (Term 2)
    • CONS 505 (3) Ecological Restoration (Term 2)

    • FRST 495 (3) Biological Diversity and Forest Management (Term 2)
    • FRST 512 (3) Belowground Ecosystems (Term 2)
    • FRST 523 (3) Forest and Environmental Policy (Term 1)
    • FRST 551 (3) Landscape Planning for Sustainability (Term 2)
    • FRST 588 (3) Fluvial Ecohydrology (Term 2)
    • FRST 592 (3) Hydrological Modelling Applications in Forestry (Term 2)

    • GEOB 370 (3) Advanced Geographic Information Science (Term 1) *If you don't have the prerequisite and would like to take GIS, contact
    • GEOB 373 (3) Introductory Remote Sensing (Term 2)
    • GEOB 406 (3) Watershed Geomorphology (Term 1)
    • GEOB 407 (3) Vegetation Dynamics: Disturbance, Climate and Human Impacts (Term 2)

    • RES 500E (3) Exploring the Food-Water-Energy Nexus (Term 1)
    • RES 520 (3) Climate Change: Science, Technology & Sustainable Development (Term 1)
    • RES 542 (3) Integrated Assessment of Global Change (Term 2) (not offered in the 2020/2021 Winter Session)

MLWS Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will:

  1. Have the necessary background and analytical skills to address the issues related to land and water systems based on an understanding of the integration of the ecological, carbon (energy), hydrological and pedological cycles and the impacts of human activity.
  2. Obtain proficiency in developing analytical frameworks for the identification, articulation and analysis of land and water resource issues and concerns.
  3. Develop skills to develop, apply, evaluate, and adopt alternate practices through scenario frameworks.
  4. Develop professional communication skills.

Upon completion of the program requirements, students will graduate with a Master of Land and Water Systems degree. The MLWS degree complements existing (provincial) professional accreditation such as:

The MLWS program allows students to gain credit towards accreditation in an existing professional organization (for instance, articling, PD or interning requirements) and does not propose any new professional accreditation.