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Environmental systems and Societies International Baccalaureate at Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School

Course description

In the ever changing world in which we live, it is becoming increasingly important to understand not only the impact which humans are having on the environment, but how humans are dependent on it for our very survival. Human society has never been so dependent on our environment as we are today thanks to unmitigated population growth and migration, yet humanity is changing our environment on a scale previously unseen- over 36 football pitches worth of trees in the Amazon Rainforest is lost every single day, the Arctic will be completely free of ice in the summer months for the first time ever by 2025, and traditional methods of creating electricity are running out at a rapid extent. What will be the effects of these on us? How will it shape our society? Will these issues have consequences on a global scale? These are some of the questions we consider in Environmental Systems and Societies.

Course content

Environmental Systems and Societies includes 8 topics:

  • Foundations of environmental systems and societies- concepts and characteristics of systems and their interaction, and how modern environmental philosophies have developed over time.
  • Ecosystems and Ecology- the structure of ecosystems; measuring components of the system, biomes, changes and measuring changes.
  • Conservation and Biodiversity- biodiversity in ecosystems, its vulnerability, evaluation and conservation.
  • Water, food production systems and society- the way water is recycled in an environment and used, the type and nature of aquatic food production.
  • Soil Systems and Societies- types of soil and their use in terrestrial food production.
  • Atmospheric Systems and Society- the structure of the atmosphere and the effect of pollution.
  • Climate Change and Energy Production- ethical and political issues surrounding our changing climate and possible solutions.
  • Human Systems and Resource Use- how human use of resources and its impacts can be measured, and the effects of this on resource management.

Entry requirements

A student wishing to study ESS should have at least a GCSE grade 5 in geography or a science subject.


At the end of the course, there will be two papers:

  • Paper 1: a case study paper worth 40 marks (25 per cent)
  • Paper 2: Section A- short answer questions and Section B- two essay questions (50 per cent)

During the course, you will also complete an IA (Internal Assessment) based on experimentation and investigation of environmental topics (25 per cent), as well as 20 hours of practical, lab-based work.

Future opportunities

A global perspective of the world is something that many universities and employers are keen to see, and ESS is certainly a subject which develops a balanced worldview. Not only does ESS give you a clear understanding of many of the environmental issues of today, but it will help to develop your analytical and explanatory skills- skills which many educators and employers feel are vital.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School directly.

Last updated date: 14 November 2016

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