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Environmental Systems and Societies

Environmental Systems and Society is a transdisciplinary subject and combines the techniques and knowledge associated with Group 4 (Sciences) and those associated with Group 3 (Humanities). It is the study of the relationship between the environment and societies and considers how environmental issues may be controversial as they cross geographical and cultural boundaries.

This course would be particularly suitable for those who are not strong in the natural sciences or those who are interested in the environment. It is a good grounding for pupils wishing to study courses in higher education, such as Geography and Environmental Sciences.


The IB Environmental Systems and Societies course is designed to increase pupils' knowledge and understanding of the social and economic importance of the environmental issues and processes, on both a local and global scale, that are relevant in today's world. It will promote critical awareness of the diversity of cultural perspectives; pupils will appreciate that environmental issues may be controversial, the extent to which technology plays a role in both causing and solving environmental issues and understand that human society is both directly and indirectly linked to the environment.

The course will also enable pupils to apply the knowledge, methodologies and skills gained to analyse environmental issues, foster independent study, practical work and research as well as prepare pupils for further study and employment.

It is assumed that everyone coming into the Sixth Form to study IB Environmental Systems and Societies will have a GCSE in either Geography, the Separate Sciences, Additional Science or an equivalent level of achievement. Pupils who have only achieved a 'B' grade may find some aspects of the course difficult. A certain amount of mathematical knowledge is required, but this is not excessive and pupils will be taught to the required standard.

The IB Environmental Systems and Societies course is only offered at Standard Level. The course itself is split into two sections: the subject specific core and practical course work. The core material is split into eight topics and is taught on a case study basis with accompanying notes:

Topic 1 Foundations of Environmental Systems
Topic 2 Ecosystems and Ecology
Topic 3 Biodiversity and Conservation
Topic 4 Water, Food Production Systems and Society
Topic 5 Soil Systems
Topic 6 Atmospheric Systems
Topic 7 Climate Change and Energy Use
Topic 8 Human Systems and Resource Use

The practical coursework consists of an individual investigation of 10 hours research or fieldwork. This is undertaken during the summer term of the Lower Sixth.

Faced with the difficult choice of our daughters remaining at a perfectly good state school in the Isle of Man, we chose to send them to King William’s College to study the International Baccalaureate. The outcome in both cases was a resounding endorsement of our decision, since King William’s College operates and delivers at a different level.

Past Parent of two 6th Form Students