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Environmental Systems and Societies

  • The IB DP environmental systems and societies standard level course aims to provide students 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.
  • Students’ attention is constantly drawn to their own relationship with their environment and the significance of choices and decisions that they make in their own lives.
  • It is intended that students develop a sound understanding of the interrelationships between environmental systems and societies, rather than a purely journalistic appreciation of environmental issues.
  • The teaching approach strives to be conducive to students evaluating the scientific, ethical and socio-political aspects of issues.
  • Promote understanding of environmental processes at a variety of scales, from local to global Provide a body of knowledge, methodologies and skills that can be used in the analysis of environmental issues at local and global levels
  • Enable students to apply the knowledge, methodologies and skills gained
  • Promote critical awareness of a diversity of cultural perspectives
  • Recognize the extent to which technology plays a role in both causing and solving environmental problems
  • Appreciate the value of local as well as international collaboration in resolving environmental problems
  • Appreciate that environmental issues may be controversial, and may provoke a variety of responses
  • Appreciate that human society is both directly and indirectly linked to the environment at a number of levels and at a variety of scales.

Topic 1: Systems and models
Topic 2: The ecosystem
Topic 3: Human population, carrying capacity and resource use
Topic 4: Conservation and biodiversity
Topic 5: Pollution management
Topic 6: The issue of global warming
Topic 7: Environmental value systems


    • How does a systems approach compare to the reductionist approach of conventional science? How does methodology compare between these two approaches?
    • How does the role of instrumentation circumvent the limitations of perception?
    • Can environmental investigations and measurements be as precise or reliable as those in the physical sciences?
    • What do the models of “natural capital/income” and the “ecological footprint” add to the earlier concepts of “resources” and “carrying capacity”? Is one model any more objective than the other?
    • Do other organisms have a right to moral consideration? How is this justified?

    Paper 1
    40 multiple-choice questions

    Paper 1
    Short-answer and data-based questions

    Paper 2
    Section A – analysis of data related to a case study
    Section B – responses to two structured essay questions from a choice of four

    Written Task
    At least three written task based on course material, submitting one for external assessment

    Practical Scheme of Work
    A series of practical and fieldwork activities

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