Environmental Science, IBO Standard Level (Level 3)

Science and Mathematics

Science and Mathematics
Science and Mathematics
We are only accepting one application per candidate.

What will you be working towards?

Code Es
Qualification Type International Baccalaureate Diploma
Qualification Level Level 3
Course type Full Time


This is a two year course: Standard Level is the equivalent of one half A level. This can be taken in a combination with other level 3 courses (including A level, IB and vocational).

If taken in combination with one other IB course AND either two vocational courses OR one vocational and one A level, students will be taking the IBCP (International Baccalaureate Career-related Pathway).


Through studying environmental systems and societies (ES&S) students will be provided with a coherent perspective of the interrelationships between environmental systems and societies; one that enables them to adopt an informed personal response to the wide range of pressing environmental issues that they will inevitably come to face.

The teaching approach is such that students are allowed to evaluate the scientific, ethical and socio-political aspects of issues.

Students will be able to study this course successfully with no specific previous knowledge of science or geography. However, as the course aims to foster an international perspective, awareness of local and global environmental concerns and an understanding of the scientific methods, a course that shares these aims would be good preparation.

During the course, students will study eight different topics. An important aspect of the ES&S course is hands-on work in the laboratory and/or out in the field.

1. Topic 1: Foundations of environmental systems and societies

1.1 Environmental value systems

1.2 Systems and models

1.3 Energy and equilibria

1.4 Sustainability

1.5 Humans and pollution


Topic 2: Ecosystems and ecology

2.1 Species and populations

2.2 Communities and ecosystems

2.3 Flows of energy and matter

2.4 Biomes, zonation and succession

2.5 Investigating ecosystems


Topic 3: Biodiversity and conservation

3.1 An introduction to biodiversity

3.2 Origins of biodiversity

3.3 Threats to biodiversity

3.4 Conservation of biodiversity


Topic 4: Water and aquatic food production systems and societies

4.1 Introduction to water systems

4.2 Access to fresh water

4.3 Aquatic food production systems

4.4 Water pollution


Topic 5: Soil systems and terrestrial food production systems and societies

5.1 Introduction to soil systems

5.2 Terrestrial food production systems and food choices

5.3 Soil degradation and conservation


Topic 6: Atmospheric systems and societies

6.1 Introduction to the atmosphere

6.2 Stratospheric ozone

6.3 Photochemical smog

6.4 Acid deposition


Environmental systems and societies guide 21

Topic 7: Climate change and energy production

7.1 Energy choices and security

7.2 Climate change—causes and impacts

7.3 Climate change—mitigation and adaptation


Topic 8: Human systems and resource use

8.1 Human population dynamics

8.2 Resource use in society

8.3 Solid domestic waste

8.4 Human population carrying capacity

How will it be delivered?

Students are assessed both externally and internally

External assessment by exam accounts for 75% of the final assessment and consists of two written papers and provides opportunities for students to demonstrate an understanding through the application, use, synthesis, analysis and evaluation of environmental issues, information, concepts, methods, techniques and explanations.

Internal assessment task accounts for 25% of the final assessment. This involves the completion of an individual investigation of an ESS research question that has been designed and implemented by the student. The investigation is submitted as a written report.

Entry requirements

Grade 4 in science and Grade 4 in English GCSE. 

Your next steps...

The IBCP (International Baccalaureate Career-related Pathway) is globally recognised and accepted by universities around the world. Some competitive university courses ask for specific IB subjects to have been studied as part of the Baccalaureate programme of study. We recommend that you research current grade requirements for that subject on www.ucas.com and filter for the International Baccalaureate.

Possible future careers could include:

  • Environmental consultant
  • Marine biologist
  • Water quality scientist
  • Landscape architect