You are here

Natural Science Courses

Spring Quarter 2024 NSc courses

-This is for informational purposes only. Class times, areas of inquiry requirement, fees, and course descriptions may change. Check the time schedule for updates before enrolling in any course.  

-Always refresh and check your degree audit after registering for courses or changing your schedule.

For more NSc courses, use the Time Schedule:


ASTR 101A – Astronomy (5 credits)
MWF 11:30-12:20
Quiz Th, times vary
$5 course fee
RSN credit
Introduction to the universe, with emphasis on conceptual, as contrasted with mathematical, comprehension. Modern theories, observations; ideas concerning nature, evolution of galaxies; quasars, stars, black holes, planets, solar system. Not open for credit to students who have taken 102 or 301; not open to upper-division students majoring in physical sciences or engineering.

ASTR 101B – Astronomy (5 credits)
This is an online version of ASTR 101A above. Check Time Schedule for details.
RSN credit
$15 course fee

ASTR 150A – The Planets (5 credits)
TTh 1:00 – 2:20
Quiz M/W, times vary
$10 course fee
RSN credit
For liberal arts and beginning science students. Survey of the planets of the solar system, with emphases on recent space exploration of the planets and on the comparative evolution of the Earth and the other planets. 

ASTR 150E -The Planets (5 credits)
This is an online version of ASTR 150 above. Check Time Schedule for details.
RSN credit
$15 course fee

ASTR 190 – Topics in Astronomy: Pacific Indigenous Astrophysics (5 credits)
TTh 5:30-6:50pm
Topics of current interest, such as origin of chemical elements, novae and supernovae, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes, active galaxies, quasars, or interstellar medium and astrochemistry. Choice of topics depends on instructor and class interest. No pre-reqs. Open to all majors.

ASTR 216 – The Impact Threat to Earth (3 credits)
TTh 10:00-11:20
Earth has been hit by large rocks in the past and will be hit by such rocks in the future. Explores the history and future of impacts on Earth. Investigates why and how often we are hit, how big is the material that hits us. What can we do about it? Recommended: ASTR 101 or ASTR 150.

ASTR 270 – Public Outreach in Astronomy (3 credits)
TTh 10:30-11:50
Emphasis on giving effective scientific presentations, developing and giving educational programs to school-age groups, and communicating knowledge of astronomy to others. Give talks at the Jacobsen Observatory on campus and presentations in the Astronomy Department's planetarium. Learn to operate a telescope and planetarium equipment. Prerequisite: one astronomy course at either the 100-, 200-, or 300-level.

Atmospheric Sciences

ATM S 100 – Climate solutions (5 credits)
MTWTh 11:30-12:20
Quiz Th/F, times vary
Diversity credit
Online course. Check Time Schedule for details.
Presents visions of the future when the climate crisis is solved. Describes paths towards reaching these goals. Solutions include building a resilient society with clean energy, sustainable agriculture, climate justice, and a just transition for workers.

ATM S 103 – Hurricanes and Thunderstorms: Their Science and Impact (3 credits)
MWF 12:30-1:20
Explores the science, history, and impacts of thunderstorms and hurricanes. Includes basic processes responsible for thunderstorms and hurricanes and for the lightning, hail, high winds, and storm surges that accompany them. Presents significant historical examples, along with the impact on human activities, strategies for personal safety, and societal adaptation.

ATM S 111 – Global Warming: Understanding the Issues (5 credits)
MTWTh 10:30-11:20
Quiz Th/F times vary
Presents a broad overview of the science of global warming. Includes the causes, evidence, and societal and environmental impacts from the last century. Recounts future climate projections and societal decisions that influence greenhouse gas emission scenarios and our ability to adapt to climate change. Presents ways to identify disinformation versus correct science.

ATM S 211 – Climate Change (5 credits)
MTWTh 11:30-12:20
Quiz Th/F, times vary
The nature of the global climate system. Factors influencing climate including interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, solid earth, and biosphere. Stability and sensitivity of climate system. Global warming, ozone depletion, and other human influences. Intended for nonmajors.

ATM S 220 – Exploring the Atmospheric Sciences (1 credit)
Th 12:30-1:20
Cr/NC grading only
Focuses on current research in the atmospheric sciences and the related implications for public health, business, and environmental policy. Credit/no-credit only.

Biocultural Anthropology

Bio A 208 – Sex and Evolution (5 credits)
MWF 10:00-11:20
Addresses the evolution of sexual reproduction and mating behavior, particularly as exhibited by humans. Focuses on concepts such as natural selection, sexual selection, and kin selection. Demonstrates how evolution can inform our understanding of sexual strategies, conflict, and orientation, as well as marriage, parenthood, and mate preferences.


Biol 280 – The History of Life (4 credits)
MWF 9:30-10:20
Biol majors only until 2/26.
Follows the history of life from its first formation including the origin of life and life's diversification from single cells through multi-celluarity. Examines fossils and DNA evidence from understanding the sequence of events and evolutionary history of life.

Comparative History of Ideas

Chid 222 – Biofutures (5 credits)
MTW 10:30-11:20
Quiz Th, times vary

Explores the key legal, ethical, cultural, scientific, and commercial aspects of the rapidly changing world of biotechnology and bioinformatics. Specifically asks how new discoveries in biology encourage us to rethink issues of ownership, communication, geography, identity, and artistic practice.

Earth and Space Sciences

ESS 100 – Dinosaurs! (2 credits)
TTh 12:30-1:20
Biology, behavior, ecology, evolution, and extinction of dinosaurs, and a history of their exploration. With dinosaurs as focal point, course also introduces the student to how hypotheses in geological and paleobiological science are formulated and tested.

ESS 101A - Intro to Geology and Societal Impacts (5 credits)
MWF 1:30-2:20
Lab M/T/W/Th, times vary
Check Time Schedule about optional writing credit.
Introduction to the processes, materials and structures that shape Earth. Emphasizes the dynamic nature of the earth's tectonic system and its relationship to physical features, volcanism, earthquakes, minerals and rocks and geologic structures. The course emphasizes the intrinsic relationship between human societies and geologic processes, hazards and resources. Not open for credit to students who have taken ESS 210. Optional field trips. No prerequisite classes required.

ESS 101B
Remote learning section with labs. Check Time Schedule for details.

ESS 102 – Space and Space Travel (5 credits)
MWF 2:30-3:20
Lab TTh, times vary
$20 course fee
Writing credit 
Explores powering the sun, making of space weather conditions, observations from space and from Earth, Earth’s space environment, radiation belts and hazards, plasma storms and auroras, electron beams, spacecraft requirements, tooling up for manned exploration. Open to non-science majors.

ESS 104 – Prehistoric Life (3 credits)
MW 10:30-11:20
Quiz M/W, times vary
Required subscription to Top Hat. Check Time Schedule for details.

Fossils and how they are preserved. What fossils tell us about past life and environments. How the history of life unfolded and what caused the great events in biological evolution. Open to non-science majors, but also lays a foundation for higher-level geobiology courses.

ESS 105 –Natural Hazards and Disasters (3 credits)
TTh 2:00-3:20
Examines a range of natural hazards and their impact on society, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, wildfire, and landslides. Focuses on the causes of these extreme events, how they unfold, their differential effects on communities, and how to make society more resilient to natural hazards.

ESS 106 – Living with Volcanoes (3 credits)
MWF 2:30-3:20
Explores volcanoes and volcanic eruptions on Earth and in the solar system. Examines how volcanoes work and how they affect the environment, life, and human societies. Illustrates principles using local examples of recent volcanism and ancient examples of mega-eruptions. Evaluates the possibility of predicting future eruptions.


Econ 230 – Economics of Fisheries and Ocean (5 credits)
MWF 10:00-11:20
RSN credit
Examines how and why people and businesses make choices that lead to over-fishing, hypoxic zones, and oil spills in aquatic environments. Applies economic principles to understand how alternative policies might change these decisions, and how distributional effects influence politically feasible solutions. Offered jointly with FISH 230.

Econ 235 – Intro to Environmental Economics (5 credits)
MW 12:30-2:20
Introduces environmental and natural resource economics. Discusses fundamental economic concepts, including markets and private property. Includes basic tools used in the economic assessment of environmental problems and applies these methods to key environmental issues. Offered jointly with ENVIR 235/ESRM 235.

Environmental Studies

Envir 100 –Environmental Studies: Interdisciplinary Foundations (5 credits)
To be arranged. Lecture offered remotely. Check Time Schedule for details.
Quiz Th/F - Check Time Schedule for details.
Diversity credit
Introduces environmental studies through interdisciplinary examination of the ethical, political, social, and scientific dimensions of current and historical environmental issues. Integrates material from different disciplines, and applies insights and methods to actual problems and situations at scales from the local to the global.

Envir 201 – Climate Governance: How Individuals, Communities, NGOs, Firms, and Govts Can Solve the Climate Crisis (5 credits)
MW 3:30-4:50
Quiz Th/F, times vary
Diversity credit
Examines climate change, its causes and impacts (on ecosystems, water availability, extreme weather, communities, health, and food) globally, nationally, and locally. Surveys its solutions (mitigation, adaptation, migration, and just transition), actors that implement them (governments, firms, NGOs, activists, communities, individuals) and approaches they use (regulation, markets, planning, innovation, social movements, behavioral change). Offered jointly with SMEA 201.

Envir 240 – The Urban Farm (5 credits)
TTh 9:00-10:20
Quiz T/W/Th, times vary
$30 course fee
Field trip. Check Time Schedule for details.
Develops students' understanding the ecological connections between food production, human health, and planetary sustainability. Teaches basic skills needed for food production in urban areas and the ethics behind sustainable urban agriculture, including a hands-on component on the farm at the biology greenhouse.

Envir 280 – Natural History of the Puget Sound Region (5 credits)
TTh 8:30-10:20
$90 course fee
Will be co-taught with elders from the Muckleshoot Tribe. Some lectures meet outdoors on or within 1 mile of UW Seattle campus. Students should be prepared to be outdoors. Check Time Schedule for details.
Focuses on identification and ecology of defining organisms in major habitats of the Puget Sound region. Geology, climate, and early human history provide a framework for understanding the distribution and development of these habitats. Emphasizes a variety of techniques for the observation and description of nature.

Environmental Health

ENV H 311 – Intro to Environmental Health (3 credits)
MWF 10:30-11:20
Relationship of people to their environment, how it affects their physical well-being and what they can do to influence the quality of the environment and to enhance the protection of their health. Emphasis on environmental factors involved in transmission of communicable diseases and hazards due to exposure to chemical and physical materials in our environment.

Environmental Science and Resource Management

ESRM 101 – Forests and Society (5 credits)
MW 9:30-11:20
Survey course focused on the intersection of forestland management and rural indigenous communities. This course will cover geologic and ecological origins of pacific northwest forests and the mosaic of management strategies both historically and currently applied across public and private ownership. Topics will include the many ways ecosystems support human health and wellbeing, the impacts of public policies on indigenous and rural communities, fire ecology of the PNW, and the role of forest management in climate change adaptation. Cannot be taken for credit if CFR 101 already taken.

ESRM 150 – Wildlife in the Modern World (5 credits)
MWF 8:30-9:20
Quiz T/W/Th/F times vary
Covers major wildlife conservation issues in North America. Some global issues are also treated. Examples of topics include the conservation of large predators, effects of toxic chemicals on wildlife, old-growth wildlife, conservation of marine wildlife, recovery of the bald eagle, and gray wolf.

ESRM 190 – Special Topics: Digital Earth (5 credits)
TTh 12:30-1:20
Hybrid course. Check time schedule for details.

Introduces current topics or courses under development to address the latest issues in environmental science and resource management.

ESRM 200A – Society and Sustainable Environments (5 credits)
MW 2:30-4:20
ESRM majors only until 2/26.
Introduces the application of social concepts and theories to understanding and managing urban, urbanizing, and wildland landscapes in a sustainable manner. Of particular interest are factors that shape patterns on the landscape and resulting social and economic benefits. Explores landscapes across the urban to wildland gradient.

ESRM 200B – Society and Sustainable Environments (5 credits)
TTh 3:30-4:20
ESRM majors only until 2/26.
Introduces the application of social concepts and theories to understanding and managing urban, urbanizing, and wildland landscapes in a sustainable manner. Of particular interest are factors that shape patterns on the landscape and resulting social and economic benefits. Explores landscapes across the urban to wildland gradient.

Global Health

G H 210 – Confronting Global Diseases: Introductory Biologic Principles and Context (3 credits)
TTh 1:00-2:20

Provides a broad introduction to the leading causes of disability and death globally. Covers the basic biologic and scientific principles of globally prevalent human health problems, including the connections between the biology of disease and current prevention and treatment interventions used in public health. Not intended for biological science majors.

Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies

GWSS 357 – Psychobiology of Women (5 credits)
TTh 10:30-12:20
Quiz Th/F, times vary
Diversity credit
Physiological and psychological aspects of women's lives; determinants of biological sex; physiological and psychological events of puberty; menopause; sexuality; contraception, pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation; role of culture in determining psychological response to physiological events. Offered jointly with PSYCH 357.


Info 103 – Social Media, Ethics, and Automation (5 credits)
MW 1:30-3:20
Quiz M/T, times vary
Optional writing credit
Explores ethical concerns involving automation on social media platforms. Students learn about social media phenomena (e.g., viral memes, parasocial relationships, harassment campaigns), experiment with computer programs (e.g., bots, data mining programs, recommendation algorithms), and apply ethics frameworks (e.g., Taoism, virtue ethics, Ubuntu ethics). No prior programming experience assumed.

JSIS – Global and Thematic Courses

JSIS B 103 – Society and Oceans (5 credits)
MWF 1:30-2:50
Online synchronous course. Check time schedule for details.
Diversity credit
Explores the social, justice, and policy dimensions of the ocean environment and ocean management policy. Pays attention to how human values, institutions, culture, and history shape environmental issues and policy responses. Examines case studies and influential frameworks, such as the ocean as "tragedy of the commons." Offered jointly with ENVIR 103/SMEA 103.

Nutritional Science

NUTR 200 – Nutrition (4 credits)
MWF 8:30-9:20
Quiz M/T/W/F, times vary
Optional linked writing course.
Examines the role of nutrition in health, wellness, and prevention of chronic disease. Topics include nutrients and nutritional needs across the lifespan food safety, food security, wellness, body weight regulation, eating disorders, sports nutrition, and prevention of chronic disease. May not be taken for credit if credit earned in NUTR 300.

NUTR 302 – Food Systems I: Harvest to Health (5 credits)
TTh 11:30-12:50
Quiz T/F, times vary
Examines the many facets of the modern food supply from production and processing to distribution, marketing, and retail. Systems approach to foods studies considers geopolitical, agricultural, environmental, social, and economic factors along the pathway from harvest to health. Prerequisite: NUTR 200.

NUTR 303 – Food Systems II: Individual to Population Health (5 credits)
TTh 8:30-9:50
Quiz Th times vary
Examines the food environment in the local community from the public health perspective. Explores where people get their food, what influences this decision, and various aspects of the local food movement, including access to healthy food, urban agriculture, farmers markets, and other public health nutrition initiatives. Includes a weekly discussion section. Prerequisite: NUTR 200.

NUTR 310 – Nutrition and Life Course (4 credits)
MW 8:30-9:50
Quiz F times vary
Explores nutrient needs from infancy through adolescence and adulthood, including the physiological basis of nutrient requirements and the genetic, social, and environmental influences on food choices and nutrition status. Uses an evidence-based approach to assess the impact of nutrition across life stages and ways to improve population health by improving nutrition. Prerequisite: NUTR 200.

NUTR 312 – Food System Sustainability and Resilience (3 credits)
Th 10:00-11:20
Quiz F, times vary
Explores concepts of sustainability and resilience as used today in the study and management of food production systems. Emphasizes a systems-thinking approach to assessing current and future challenges and resilience in the face of stresses and shocks. Covers complex dynamics between biological and geophysical aspects of food production systems in the context of nourishing a growing population, evaluation of co-benefits and tradeoffs. Recommended: introductory coursework in food systems or sustainability. Offered: jointly with ENVIR 312.


Ocean 102 – The Changing Oceans (5 credits)
To be arranged. Group Start course. Check time schedule for details.
Explores case studies on how the ocean drives our planet's climate system and how humans have altered marine and coastal environments. Students consider societal factors affecting progress in marine science, changing popular attitudes toward the oceans, and key current policy implications of marine science. All students welcome!


Phil 120 – Intro to Logic (5 credits)
MWF 9:30-10:20
Quiz TTh, times vary
RSN credit
Elementary symbolic logic. The development, application, and theoretical properties of an artificial symbolic language designed to provide a clear representation of the logical structure of deductive arguments.


Psych 202 – Biopsychology (5 credits)
MTWTh 12:30-1:20
Quiz F, times vary
No seniors period I registration.

Examines the biological basis of behavior, the nervous system, how it works to control behavior and sense the world, and what happens when it malfunctions. Topics include learning and memory, development, sex, drugs, sleep, the senses, emotions, and mental disorders. Prerequisite:  PSYCH 101.


State 111 – Lectures in Applied Statistics (1 credit)
W 11:30-12:20
Weekly lectures illustrating the importance of statisticians in a variety of fields, including medicine and the biological, physical, and social sciences. Credit/no-credit only. Offered jointly with BIOST 111.

Stat 220 – Principles of Statistical Reasoning (5 credits)
MWF 8:30-9:20
Quiz TTh, times vary
RSN credit
Introduces statistical reasoning. Focuses primarily on the what and why rather than the how. Helps students gain an understanding of the rationale behind many statistical methods, as well as an appreciation of the use and misuse of statistics. Encourages and requires critical thinking. Students may receive credit for only one of Stat 220, Stat 221, Stat 311, and Econ 311.

Stat 221 – Statistical Concepts and Methods for the Social Sciences (5 credits)
MWF 11:30-12:20
Quiz TTh, times vary
RSN credit
Develops statistical literacy. Examines objectives and pitfalls of statistical studies; study designs, data analysis, inference; graphical and numerical summaries of numerical and categorical data; correlation and regression; and estimation, confidence intervals, and significance tests. Emphasizes social science examples and cases. Students may receive credit for only one of Stat 220, Stat 221, Stat 311, and Econ 311.