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Environmental Studies A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

In your first year you will be given an introduction to the biodiversity of life on planet Earth. You will investigate the reasons why the conservation of life on Earth is important and the methods which may be used to achieve effective conservation. You will also study the ecological relationships between organisms, and their relationship with the abiotic environment. You will develop a number of field work techniques which are studied both within the laboratory and in the field. You will explore why physical resources such as atmospheric gases, water and mineral nutrients are essential for life on Earth and how humans exploit and manage these resources to provide higher material living standards.

In your second year of study you will investigate the problems of future energy supply and how these may be resolved; this is investigated through the study of the energy resources which are available for use. You will also develop an understanding of a range of atmospheric, aquatic and terrestrial pollutants, and the strategies which may be used to minimise releases, treat effluents and manage the damage caused. You will also look at the factors controlling human population growth, which you will consider in relation to the demands placed upon the planet’s resources and life-support systems. You will analyse food and forestry production systems, with particular emphasis on the limiting factors affecting productivity, the environmental problems caused by these systems and the ways in which problems can be addressed. You will finish the second year by considering the sustainability of human lifestyles, by reviewing the evidence form all of the other modules of the specification.

Course content

In the first year, you will study Units 1 and 2 which will form the AS qualification. This will form a stand-alone qualification or 50% of the A Level if you continue studying in the second year. In the second year you will study the A2 syllabus, Units 3 and 4 which form the remaining 50% of the A Level qualification.

Topics covered are:

AS: Unit 1 – The Living Environment (exam)

  • Conditions for life on Earth
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Life processes in the biosphere
  • Land resources
  • Practical skills

AS: Unit 2 – The Physical Environment (exam)

  • The atmosphere
  • The hydrosphere
  • The lithosphere
  • Practical skills

A2: Unit 3 – Energy Resources and Environmental Pollution (exam)

  • Energy
  • Pollution
  • Practical skills

A2: Unit 4 – Biological Resources and Sustainability (exam)

  • Human populations
  • Food production systems
  • Aquatic food production systems
  • Forestry
  • Sustainability
  • Practical skills

Entry requirements

Minimum of 5 GCSEs grades A*- C including at least GCSE B in relevant science subjects (i.e. Core Science and Additional Science OR one of the separate sciences), at least GCSE grade B in English and a GCSE grade C in Mathematics.


Your achievement in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. You will learn in a friendly atmosphere, using a variety of assessment methods:

  • You will be assessed through end of topic tests under timed conditions in class, regular homework questions and through completion of class activities. You will then be given detailed feedback on your progress.
  • You will review your own performance in 1:1 sessions with your tutor.
  • You will undertake mock examinations in advance of your final exams.
  • You will sit formal AS/A2 Level exams at the end of each year of study. The A Level Environmental Science course is modular, and all assessed units from both years of study contribute to the A Level qualification. For AS Level, only the assessed units from the first year of study contribute to the qualification.

Future opportunities

An understanding of the environment is desirable for a variety of university courses including environmental science, biology, ecology, agriculture and horticulture, soil science, wildlife conservation, countryside and environmental management, natural resource management, geology, geography, and sustainable development. The skills and knowledge gained can lead to a career with a variety of employers such as the Environment Agency, National Trust, Forestry Commission, local Wildlife Trusts, environmental consultancies, National Parks, recycling organisations, waste management and water quality organisations.

Further information

You will be expected to undertake at least 4 hours of independent study per week. Throughout the year you will be able to access additional support through drop-in sessions, dedicated revision workshops, tailored 1-to-1 provision, as well as a variety of additional opportunities to stretch and challenge the most able students. We encourage you to proactively engage with the support available in order to reach your full potential.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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