Science: Environmental Systems and Societies International Baccalaureate Course Overview

Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) is a course that involves students simultaneously in the scientific exploration of environmental systems and the ethical, economic, political and cultural consideration people have with the environment around them. Students gain an understanding of the effect of our dynamic and interconnected societies on the natural world through research, debate and investigations. Like other IB subjects the development of a considered and holistic understanding to issues, in this case the environment, is key. Teachers explicitly develop students’ ability to research, analyse evidence, engage with sources. The breadth and interconnectedness of content on Environmental Systems and Societies makes it an engrossing and illuminating course to study.

Taught to standard level it is an interdisciplinary course that fits into either individuals and societies or the sciences requirement. Students will apply the knowledge, methodologies and skills to analyse environmental systems and issues at a variety of scales. They will appreciate the personal, local and global perspectives at play for decision makers when seeking to act responsibly. Environmental issues of resource distribution, diversity of environmental systems and sustainability are recurring themes as students delve into topics from biodiversity and conservation to climate change and energy production. The context of the course is both local and global, connecting the two in a manner befitting the internationally minded IBDP qualification.

Example course units:

  • Foundations of environmental systems and societies
  • Ecosystems and ecology
  • Biodiversity and conservation
  • Water and aquatic food production systems and societies
  • Soil systems and terrestrial food production systems and societies
  • Atmospheric systems and societies
  • Climate change and energy production
  • Human systems and resource use

Practical scheme of work

  • Practical activities
  • Individual investigation

Assessment overview

The course is made up of both externally assessed examinations and an internally assessed portfolio. King’s InterHigh will support with guidance around where external exams may be sat. These exams are sat at the end of the two year programme.

External Exams:

  • Paper 1 – Case Study
  • Paper 2 – Short answers and structured essays

Internal Portfolio:

Individual Investigation: Written report of a research question designed and implemented by the student.

Sample questions:

  • With reference to source material, outline two possible reasons why the snow leopard has received special attention from conservationists.
  • Outline how the reasons for food wastage may differ between human societies.

Discuss how different environmental value systems influence responses to the human population growth rate.

Studying online

Learning IB Environmental Systems and Societies online allows students to enjoy the following features:

  • Virtual Reality (VR) learning opportunities to immerse student in diagrams, models and other subject matter.
  • Live, responsive teaching and feedback in small classes.
  • 24/7 access to course resources and lessons, recorded and catalogued.
  • High academic standards and levels of support.
  • Positive learning culture and systems for communication.
  • A flexible, international, high energy learning experience.
  • Experienced, subject specialist teachers to both Standard and Higher level.
Science: Environmental Systems and Societies
International Baccalaureate
Online, real-time classrooms, 24/7 access to curriculum
September

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