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Environmental Science

Why study Environmental Science?

The subject provides a highly relevant interdisciplinary fourth science option. It’s ideal for anyone interested in contemporary environmental issues, systems thinking and sustainability.

This is a great accompaniment to A Levels in geography, biology, physics and maths and develops key skills including communication, teamwork and critical thinking.

We provide a foundation for the development of key scientific skills and knowledge to assist progression to further study and beyond:

  • develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of environmental science and how they relate to each other
  • develop and demonstrate a deep appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of the scientific methods used to investigate the environment
  • develop competence and confidence in a variety of practical, mathematical and problem solving skills related to environmental issues and the sustainable use of resources
  • understand the importance of basing decisions on reliable data which allows evidence-based analysis of environmental issues
  • develop interest in and enthusiasm for the subject, including developing an interest in further study and careers associated with the subject
  • understand how society makes decisions about environmental issues and how these contribute to the success of the economy and society.
How will you be assessed?

(Students will sit 2 papers at the end of Year 13.)

Paper 1 (3 hours) a written exam (120 marks) – 50% of the A Level

Paper 2 (3 hours) a written exam (120 marks) – 50% of the A Level

A range of question types will be used, including those that require extended responses. Extended response questions will allow students to demonstrate their ability to construct and develop a sustained line of reasoning which is coherent, relevant, substantiated and logically structured. Extended responses may be in written English, extended calculations, or a combination of both, as appropriate to the question.

10% of the overall assessment of A Level Environmental Science will contain mathematical skills equivalent to Level 2 or above.

At least 15% of the overall assessment of A Level Environmental Science will assess knowledge, skills and understanding in relation to practical work.

What will you study?  
Unit 1:

The living environment


The emphasis is on the interaction of living organisms with each other and their abiotic environment, and how an understanding of this can inform decisions that lead to sustainable human activities. Students must apply their understanding of these interactions in a wide range of contexts throughout this area.
Unit 2:

The physical environment


The emphasis is on understanding how anthropogenic activities are inter-connected with physical processes, to formulate management strategies and plan sustainable activities.

Supplies of renewable physical resources may be maintained by the control of activities that may cause over-exploitation and by protecting the processes that aid their production.

Supplies of non-renewable physical resources may be extended by controlling exploitation and developing improved technologies to harness them.

Unit 3:

Energy resources


The importance of energy resources in both past and future developments in society will be analysed. The impact of future energy supply problems will be evaluated.

Students should understand how improvements in technology can provide increasing amounts of energy from sustainable sources.

Quantitative data will be used to compare and evaluate new and existing technologies.

Unit 4:



Students should understand how the properties of materials and energy forms interact to result in environmental change. They should apply this knowledge to suggest solutions to minimise current pollution problems and prevent future problems. Students should apply their understanding through a range of different historic and contemporary pollution events.
Unit 5:

Biological resources


Students must develop an understanding of the challenge posed by the need to provide food and forest resources for a growing human population without damaging the planet’s life support systems. The interaction of the production of biological resources with other areas of the subject should be emphasised, including with conservation of biodiversity, energy resources, pollution and the physical environment.
Unit 6:



The subject principles that are the focus in all topics will be used to develop a holistic understanding of sustainability and the circular economy. Examples will be taken from throughout the areas of study to gain an understanding of the interconnected nature of environmental problems and solutions to these problems. Students should consider sustainability on local, national and global scales.
Unit 7:

Research methods


Students must understand the general principles of scientific methodology and be able to apply these to a wide range of environmental situations and techniques.

Practical activities will be carried out with consideration of their environmental impacts and how these can be minimised.

Students must undertake experimental and investigative activities, including appropriate risk management, in a range of environmental contexts. They must also know how to safely and correctly use a range of practical equipment and materials.

What will Environmental Science offer you in the future?

Career options include working in the STEM industries of engineering, food, energy, conservation and health, as well as non-STEM opportunities in media, leisure or planning.