Master’s Degree Curriculum Requirements (MA or MS)

The purpose of the ERG Master’s program is to educate the next generation of interdisciplinary leaders. Specifically, students are taught the range of methods and subjects they should be able to understand, advance, and critique to address critical issues stemming from the interaction of humans and the environment. To that end, the requirements for the ERG Master’s degree are both broad and deep, stressing analytic, methodological, theoretical, and practical approaches to problems in energy, resources, and the environment.

The course requirements provide for a substantive introduction to the disciplinary approaches that are employed in studying energy and resource issues. The requirements also ensure experience in interdisciplinary analysis applied to a key resource concern. The curriculum provides an opportunity — through a topical cluster and an independent project — to extend and deepen the areas of investigation and understanding to satisfy the intellectual interests of each student.

The curriculum is intended to serve those students for whom the Master’s degree will be the final formal education in support of a professional career and also those students who intend to continue their education, for example by pursuing a PhD in Energy and Resources.

To obtain a Master’s degree from ERG, each student must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete a minimum of 40 post-baccalaureate units.
  • Complete a minimum of 18 units of graduate-level study in energy and resources, some of which can be fulfilled by courses from other departments and schools.
  • Complete the ERG Masters Degree Series:
    • ER 201 – Interdisciplinary Analysis in Energy and Resources (3 units)
    • ER 292B – Master’s Research Skills and Project Development (2 units)
    • ER 292C – Masters Project Development (2 units)
    • 292D – Masters Project Presentation (2 units)
    • ER 295 – ERG Colloquium (2 units) Two semesters are required to ensure exposure to a broad array of topics and approaches.
  • Six additional units of approved graduate-level courses
  • Complete one course from each of the A-E Requirements listed below.
  • Complete a Master’s project.  An undertaking of an independent investigation that culminates in an oral presentation before the ERG community and a written report approved by two faculty readers.
  • Complete a cluster of three courses (minimum of 9 units) in a subject area defined by the student and approved by his/her advisor. This cluster is designed to ensure depth of study in a topic within the domain of Energy and Resources. At least one of these courses (3 units) must be a graduate-level course. Suitable areas include (but are not limited to) climate change, energy, water, environmental justice, and development. The cluster may include one of the courses used to satisfy the Area A-E requirement, and cluster courses can fulfill the requirement of 18 units of graduate-level study in energy and resources.
  • The following limits and restrictions apply on credit toward the 40-unit requirement:
    • A maximum of 4 units of 299 (individual research) credits can be counted.
    • 298  units (group study) cannot be counted.

To ensure effective early planning and consultation, ERG Master’s students are expected to submit a completed “Proposed Course of Study” form by the last day of class in their first  semester. This form will indicate the courses that the student intends to take to meet the requirements given above. It will be completed by the student in consultation with the student’s ERG core faculty advisor.  The course of study may change as a student’s interests and plans change. At the end of the second and third semesters, students are expected to submit a revised course of study.  The final course of study must be approved early in the student’s final semester to meet the requirements for graduation.

At the end of the third semester, students also are required to submit their proposed Master’s Project title and abstract to their ERG core faculty advisor, who will provide feedback. Each student, in collaboration with the first faculty reader and the instructor(s) of the Master’s seminar, will prepare a proposed project title and abstract for the Master’s project by the end of the student’s third semester.

The ERG Master’s program can lead to either an MA or MS degree in Energy and Resources. In consultation with the advisor, each student makes a request of the MA or MS degree based on the substantive content of coursework and Master’s project. The ERG core faculty advisor makes a final determination of the appropriateness of the MA/MS selection.

 

Area (A-F) requirement

Teaching and research in the Energy and Resources Group draws heavily on five academic traditions, as they are applied to the interactions of societies with resources and the natural environment. The ERG Master’s curriculum ensures that each student is well acquainted with each of these academic spheres and also experiences how distinct approaches from these intellectual traditions are brought to bear in interdisciplinary resource analysis. Consequently, one of the cornerstone requirements of the ERG Master’s curriculum is the A-F requirements.

A. Interdisciplinary analysis
B. Environmental science
C. Resource and environmental economics
D. Social science approaches to energy, resources and the environment
E. Engineering approaches to energy, resources and the environment
F. Humanities

Selecting Coursework

All Master’s Degree students are required to complete Area A (Interdisciplinary Analysis) plus courses in four of the five areas B – F. Students select four areas in consultation with their ERG Core Faculty Academic Adviser. Students must choose to take the area, or at least one of the areas, of greatest deficiency in their academic or professional record. If there is more than one area gap in the student’s record, the student and their adviser will come to an agreement about which four areas will fulfill ERG requirements.

The Berkeley Academic Guide catalog is always evolving, and not all courses are offered every term. Therefore alternate courses to those listed in the B-F Course List are allowed with permission of the designated responsible faculty.

The alternate course must meet the intent and prerequisites of the area requirement. Attributes that would normally be considered minimum requirements for an alternative course to be acceptable are these: 3+ units, taken for a letter grade, lecture or laboratory-based instruction (i.e., no seminar courses) with substantive intellectual content and topical relevance to the academic tradition of ERG. The purpose of these courses is to provide ERG students sufficient background in the physical and social constructions of the relevant systems to enable them to understand key issues and to begin to conduct research in that area.

A. Interdisciplinary Energy and Resource Analysis
Responsible Faculty: Daniel Kammen

The following courses satisfy this requirement:

  • ENERES C200 – Energy and Society (Prerequisite: at least one course in college physics or chemistry)
    ENERES 275 – Water and Development (Prerequisite: at least one college-level development-focused or water-focused course)

B. Environmental Science
Responsible Faculty: Lara Kueppers

The ERG environmental science requirement teaches the analytical methods and the fundamental principles needed to understand and creatively engage with the biotic and abiotic environment. Topical content spans physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics, with a focus on the cross-boundary subfields of biodiversity science, biogeochemistry, climatology, hydrology, toxicology, radiation and radioactivity, and demography. An emphasis is placed on developing the capacity to construct and use back-of-the-large-envelope modeling methods. We do not count courses that focus in on subsets of the above subfields, but you can make a case for substituting collections of courses for the core ERG course (ER 102), provided those courses emphasize quantitative tools comparable to those taught in ER 102.

The following course satisfies this requirement:

  • ENERES 102 – Quantitative Aspects of Global Environmental Problems
    Prerequisites: Calculus (Math 1A-1B or 16A-16B), or Physics (7A-7B or 8A-8B), or Chemistry (1A or 4A), or Biology (1B or 11), or consent of instructor.)

C. Resource and Environmental Economics
Responsible Faculty: David Anthoff

The purpose of the economics requirement is for students to become acquainted with the tools and analytical methods used in economics. For students that have never taken an intermediate microeconomics course before, this requirement can only be fulfilled by an intermediate microeconomics course. For these students, the following courses satisfy this requirement:

  • ENVECON 100 – Microeconomic Theory with Application to Natural Resources

Students who have taken an intermediate microeconomics course before can choose from a large number of economics courses from ERG, the departments of Agricultural & Resource Economics, Business, and Economics to fulfill this requirement. For these students, the following are some of the courses which satisfy this requirement:

  • ENERES 276 – Climate Change Economics
  • ARESEC 212 – Econometrics: Multiple Equation Estimation
  • ENVECON 162 – Economics of Water Resources
  • ENVECON C101/ECON C125 – Environmental Economics
  • ENVECON C151/ECON C171 – International Economic Development
  • ENVECON C102/ECON C102 – Natural Resources Economics
  • MBA 212 – Energy and Environmental Markets
  • PUB POL 210A – The Economics of Public Policy Analysis

D. Social Science Approaches to Energy, Resources and the Environment
Responsible Faculty: Isha Ray

The ERG social science requirement aims to make students “see” the social world through methods and theories common to traditional social science fields such as: geography, political science, anthropology, sociology, and critical planning approaches. All classes should be 3 units, contain significant social science readings, but not be directed reading seminars. These courses generally have as prerequisites undergraduate level courses in geography, sociology, anthropology or political science.

Some of the courses that satisfy this requirement:

  • ENERES 273 – Research Methods in Social Sciences
  • ESPM 155 – Sociology of Natural Resources
  • ESPM 161 – Environmental Philosophy and Ethics
  • ESPM 168 – Political Ecology
  • ESPM 169 – International Environmental Politics
  • CRP 254 – Sustainable Communities
  • ESPM 260 – Governance of Global Production
  • GEOG 203 – Nature and Culture
  • GEOG 215 – Seminar in Comparative and International Development

E. Engineering Approaches to Energy, Resources and the Environment
Responsible Faculty: Duncan Callaway

The purpose of this area is to provide all ERG students with exposure to and experience with the problem-solving, design-oriented approach of relevant engineering disciplines. Other courses may be allowed by petition, but must have substantive engineering content and topical relevance to the domain of ERG, and must be offered in the College of Engineering or in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Note: These courses will have various prerequisites.

Some of the courses that satisfy this requirement:

  • ER 254 – Electric Power Systems
  • CEE 103 – Introduction to Hydrology
  • CEE 111 – Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 218A – Air Quality Engineering
  • CEE 268E – Civil Systems and the Environment
  • ME C105B / BIOE C105B – Thermodynamics and Biothermodynamics

F. Environmental Humanities
Responsible Faculty: Isha Ray

Humanities courses introduce students to historical, philosophical, textual, and interpretive methodologies and epistemologies, which are distinct from the mainstream methods taught or used within the social sciences. The humanities deal with history, philosophy, languages, religion, literature and even art — with what makes us human. Conversely, the social sciences deal with sociology, anthropology, politics, economics, urban planning — with what makes us social.

Some of the courses that satisfy this requirement:

  • ESPM 161 – Environmental Philosophy and Ethics
  • GEOG 203 – Nature and Culture
  • PHILOS 128 – Philosophy of Science
  • RHETOR 155 – Discourses of Colonialism and Postcoloniality
  • HISTORY C187 – The History and Practice of Human Rights

 

 

The ERG Master’s Degree Seminar Series

Semester I – Fall

  • ER 201 – Interdisciplinary Analysis in Energy and Resources
    3 units, graded.  Required for all Masters students in their first semester. Introduction to the Masters final project process; survey of previous Masters final projects; survey of energy and resources classic texts; external funding searches and proposal writing skills; introduction of ERG faculty research topics; interactive group research projects.
  • ER 292A – Tools of the Trade
    2 units, S/U. Recommended for all new Masters students who want to refresh their quantitative skills; students with substantial remedial needs may need to take some undergraduate coursework. Quantitative methods for energy and resource analysis. Topics include linear algebra, differential equations, statistical methods, chemical equilibrium theory and thermodynamics. 

Semester II – Spring

  • ER 292B – Master’s Seminar: Research Skills
    2 units, graded. Critical reading and analysis of research papers; development and discussion of project ideas. Students begin to identify and solicit faculty readers for their projects. Human subject research issues, ethics and protocols introduced.

Semester III – Fall

  • ER 292C – Master’s Seminar: Research Project Development
    2 units, graded. Final Development of research project ideas; final solicitation of faculty readers; critical feedback from cohort on projects.

Semester IV – Spring

  • ER 292D – Master’s Seminar: Final Project Presentations
    2 units, graded. Students meet as needed with faculty readers and advisors; following Spring Break students meet as a group for practice presentations.  End of semester all students do a final 15-minute presentation of their project.

 

Sample Program of Study

Note: the minimum enrollment requirement for all graduate students who are not yet advanced to doctoral candidacy is 12 units per semester.

1st Semester (Fall)

  • ER 200 (4 units) or ER 275 (3 units) — Area A requirement
  • ER 201 (3 units) — Interdisciplinary Analysis in Energy and Resources
  • Elective C-E — satisfy one of the Area C-E requirements
  • ER 292A – Tools of the Trade (2 units)
  • Early December – submit proposed Course of Study form

2nd Semester (Spring)

  • ER 102 (4 units) — Area B requirement
  • ER 292C (2 units) – Master’s seminar
  • ER 295 (1 unit) — ERG colloquium
  • Elective Cluster  — Cluster course no. 1
  • Early May – Submit revised Course of Study

3rd Semester (Fall)

  • ER 292D (2 units) – Master’s seminar
  • ER 295 (1 unit) — ERG colloquium
  • Elective Cluster — Cluster course no. 2
  • Elective C-E — satisfy one of the Area C-E requirements
  • Additional Elective
  • Early December – submit updated Course of Study and Title/Abstract for Master’s Project

4th Semester (Spring)

  • ER 292D (2 units) — Master’s Project
  • Elective Cluster — Cluster course no. 3
  • Elective C-E — satisfy one of the Area C-E requirements
  • Additional elective course
  • Receive feedback and approval of Course of Study and Title/Abstract for Master’s Project