Welcome to Atmospheric Science! Wondering what options and
opportunities are out there once you complete your degree? Wondering
what opportunities and resources you have available while completing your degree? Just read on.
What is my degree good for?
The American Meteorological Society has a great career guide
explaining many paths you can take with a degree in atmospheric science
– yes, there’s more than just forecasting!
are opportunities to do research as an undergraduate both during the
school year and in the summer. The most traditional way is to seek
outside funding from sources like NSERC, however some profs are able
(have grants) and willing (have projects) to take on undergraduates
where the prof him/herself funds the research. In either case you
should choose a prof/project first, and then discuss your options for
funding with the prof once they’ve agreed to take you on. And remember
that it’s preferable for the student to get their own funding. For lots
more info check out
the list of complementary classes needed for the atoc degree is
preceeded by the statement "6-9 credits ordinarily selected from" for
the major and "3-6 credits ordinarily selected from..." for honours.
The word "ordinarily" basically means that if you want to take a class
not on the complementary list that you think is worth counting for your
atmospheric science degree, you can speak to the undergraduate advisor
about being able to count it.
At McGill you're allowed to take
one class pass/fail per semester, provided you don't need the class
for a major or minor. This means you don't get a mark on your
transcript for it, only Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory, and it doesn't
count in your GPA.
Resources for atmospheric science students
science undergrads are entitled to a locker in Burnside basement if
they want one. Students need to provide their own locks. If you’d like
a locker let us know at
three lounges for undergrads in Burnside: room 710, room 806, and room
848. Room 710 has 5 computers, software like R and Matlab, DVD burners and textbooks for reference. Room 806 has two
computers, a round table, a mini-fridge, a microwave, and textbooks for
reference. Room 848 is more of a lounge area, with couches and seats,
but also two desks. (If anything computer related stops working, you
can ask the Network Administrator for help at
Some glossaries of atmospheric science terminology:
Resources for all students - academic
atmospheric science we have many math classes to take. If you need help
you can go to the math help desk in Burnside room 911, a free service
run by SUMS, the Society of Undergraduate Math Students. You can also
try your luck in the SUMS lounge (Burnside 1B20). Plus their website
contains notes, old exams, and a list of private tutors. The McGill Society of
Physics Students, MSPS, have started also a physics help desk which is open on Mondays and Fridays, from 2:30 to 4:30, at Rutherford 105. But just remember that
while the first year or two of atmospheric science may contain lots of
math and physics with only some atmospheric classes, by your last year
it’ll be almost all atmospheric classes. So don’t get discouraged too
early in your degree if you don’t absolutely love physics or math,
because while they’re important, they don’t stay the main focus the
further along you get in your studies. In the meantime there’s help if
you need it:
are lots of libraries around school, offering great study space,
computer use, printing, and photocopying. Some libraries have extended
hours during exam period. The Schulich Library of Science and
Engineering, which you can get to through the Frank Dawson Adams
building next to Burnside, has all atmospheric and oceanic science
textbooks in the school (outside of Burnside that is). Speaking of
Burnside, there are two libraries great for studying in right here: the
geography library on the 5th floor (called the Walter Hitschfeld
Geographic Information Centre), and the math library on the 11th floor
(the Edward Rosenthall Mathematics and Statistics Library). Note that
math textbooks are in Schulich, not the math library. It’s also worth
noting that McGill’s largest library (so with lots of study space) is
the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, in the connected McLennan
and Redpath buildings across campus from Burnside. And here’s a little
known use of that library: the Redpath Audio Visual collection has DVDs
and VHS videos you can borrow for free. There are also movies, and CDs, to be
found in the Marvin Duchow Music Library (accessed from the Strathcona
Music Building) and, surprisingly, some good un-business-y films in the
Howard Ross Library of Management in the Samuel Bronfman building.
Lastly, here are a couple of ways the McGill libraries help make your
life easier: when returning a normal-loan book, you can give it in at a
different library than where you took it out; also, when you
borrow a renewable item from a library, you can renew it online at
Muse, which also contains the online catalogue of all library items.
Resources for all students - non-academic
detailed map of the downtown campus
Brown Student Services building is on McTavish, attached to a building
called the University Centre, a.k.a. Shatner. Shatner houses many clubs, a
cafeteria, the official school bar Gerts, a large room called the
Shatner ballroom for big events, and a lounge full of comfy couches and
some computers. Brown houses SSMU (“smoo”), the Students’ Society of
McGill University, the group that represents all undergrads, as well as
many other useful services like the health clinic, counselling
services, student aid, tutorial services, CAPS, and more. CAPS, the
Career and Placement Services, is one of the best resources at school.
They have workshops year-round on things like interview techniques and
job searching, they do career advising, they’ll help you with C.V.
writing, and they even have a job listings site.
Tomlinson Fieldhouse up at 475 Pine W. has some great athletics
facilities, like a pool, track, weight room, and field house, which are
free for McGill students to use. For a small fee there’s also the
fitness centre, tennis courts and squash courts, and fitness classes.
basement provides study space that is open to science students 24/7,
with security. To get in after 10 p.m. weekdays or on weekends and
holidays you need your student I.D. card.
Burnside basement also
contains the SUS Office, the FUSS office (Freshman
Undergraduate Science Society – for U0 science students), and the
Computer Taskforce office along with three Taskforce computer rooms.
These three rooms, plus the corridor of Burnside basement and various
other locations on campus, have computers that any science students can
use to surf the net, use Word/Powerpoint/etc, Matlab and print with uPrint or pre-paid credits. Every science student pays for printing credits in their
tuition, and if you don’t use up all your credits they do not carry
over and you don’t get your money back, so whenever you have printing
you may as well make use of the Taskforce printers in Burnside Basement
(and elsewhere). If you run out of credits you can buy more from the
Taskforce office, and these extra credits do carry over to the next
are entitled to a plethora of magazine and newspaper subscription
discounts. Look out for the little tables set up around campus at the
start of the semester, or go to
There are lots of places to buy food in and around campus. Below rue Dr. Penfield you can get food in:
- Burnside basement
- Redpath library basement (including a mini Tim Hortons)
- Shatner building (first and second floors)
- the Arts building
- the McGill Bookstore (second floor – 3420 McTavish)
There are three student-run cafeterias that are fairly cheap:
- the architecture caf in the basement of McDonald-Harrington
- Maces, run by continuing education students, 3437 Peel, or direct entry found off the alley behind Bronfman
- Frostbite, which mostly sells ice cream(!!) and drinks,
located in McConnell (if you score under 30% on a midterm they’ll give
you a free ice cream)
There are also two bars on campus:
- Blues Pub, in the basement of McConnell every Friday
- Gerts, in Shatner, with an Al-Taib counter
It’s also worth noting that there’s a 24-hour Tim Hortons on the
corner of Sherbrooke and University that is larger and closer to
Burnside than the Tim Hortons in Redpath. Perfect for any late night
study sessions in good ole Burnside.
It’s fortunate for us
ATOC students that our department is in Burnside because it’s part of a
sometimes-underground, sometimes-ground level path connecting several
buildings on campus, so you can avoid going outside on cold, winter
days. It goes from Otto Maass-Burnside-Adams-McConnell-McDonald, and
from Adams you can also get to McDonald-Harrington. Parts of this path
are signified by big yellow dots on the floor, or a yellow sign with a
blue drawing of a snail.
Other cool things worth knowing about
has many options for exchanges and studying abroad, with many
international schools holding tuition exchange agreements with McGill –
meaning you pay the normal tuition you pay here while away at the other
university. It can be a little difficult finding a suitable curriculum
for a semester or two abroad for atoc students since 1) our program is
not as widespread as many others, and 2) missing a McGill atoc course
can throw off your remaining semesters a little by making classes fall
out of order. Nonetheless it’s certainly possible to work out
participating in the study abroad or exchange programs, so don’t be
discouraged! Other ways to go overseas are volunteering or working
abroad during summers off from school or just after you finish your
degree. One way or another, if you’re committed to getting to a foreign
country, there are many ways you can do it.
McGill Alumni Association has in the past held “coffee breaks” - tables
set up with free coffee, juice, snacks, and writing utensils during
exams period at various places on campus, so look out for it next exam
period. The schedule should be mentioned in SSMU e-mails and on the
alumni website around exam time. They also offer other benefits to
current students, such as the Mentor Program and “Backpack to
Briefcase” workshops on making the transition from school to the
it comes time to buy books, the most convenient place to go is the
McGill Bookstore (which, by the way, sells a lot more than just books),
at 3420 McTavish. Unfortunately it’s usually the most expensive option
too, even when they’re selling something second-hand. Here is another workaround, you can use vim to auto indent and auto format your code from inside Gedit.Unless you don’t
care about saving money, it’s advisable to check out other sources
first, whether you want new or used copies, whether you want textbooks
or coursepacks: Haven Books (2074 Aylmer, havenbooks.ca), The Word (469 Milton), Chapters (1171 St. Catherine W), chapters.ca (sometimes books are cheaper at Chapters online than Chapters in-store), Amazon.ca, and the McGill Classifieds, at
you need to get to MacDonald campus in St. Anne de Bellevue, there is a
free shuttle bus on weekdays leaving both campuses every 45 minutes.
The downtown campus departure point is on Sherbrooke just west of
Roddick Gates, near the 24 bus stop. Seating on the bus is first-come,
first-served, and to use it you need to get a sticker for your I.D.
card from Brown (room 1200).
getting their own place should check out Munzer, a bilingual website
where tenants rate landlords. There’s also information on your rights
as a tenant and what to do if your landlord tries to do something
McGill Legal Information, in Brown building, offers free legal
information from law students, in English and French. You can drop in
(no appointment needed), or call.
The Shagalicious Shop in Brown building is a “student-friendly store” with safe sex products and info. You can also ask any health question anonymously online (doesn't have to be sex-related).
science undergrads are entitled to two free agendas: one from SSMU,
available in Brown (room 1200), and one from SUS, available at the SUS
office in Burnside basement (room 1B21). They feature coupons and
important school-related dates, like the course add/drop deadline.
are 2 English student papers and one French-language student paper
available throughout the school year all around campus, and are free to
take. (They’re paid for in your tuition.) The McGill Daily comes out
Mondays and Thursdays, with its French counterpart Le Délit coming out
once a week Tuesdays. The McGill Tribune comes out on Tuesdays. You can
also read these three papers online.