Coastal Academy Trust

IB Environmental Systems and Societies

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” (Gandhi)

Why study ESS?

Environmental systems and societies (ESS) is a standard level IB qualification for pupils who have a passion for the world around them.  ESS is  a great subject choice for  students who have an interest in Biology and Geography and who want to actively appreciate and engage in local and global environmental and social issues. No previous specific knowledge is needed.

In ESS you will learn about the interactions that occur within different environmental systems such as water, soil and atmosphere. Looking at historical influences and recent environmental events, the ESS course looks at exploring what the effect has been on different environmental systems and what can be learnt for the future. 

Being an interdisciplinary course, ESS will allow you to develop the knowledge and skills of scientific exploration of the environmental systems; recognising and evaluating impacts on societies and the natural world. You will explore the  cultural, economic, ethical, political and social interactions of societies with the key to creating a sustainable environment. ESS involves a holistic approach on taking responsible actions for sometimes controversial environmental issues through research, investigations, participation in philosophical discussion and problem-solving.


What the course involves:

1- Foundation of environmental systems and societies, 

2- Ecosystems and ecology

3- Biodiversity and conservation

4 - Water and aquatic food production systems and societies

5- Soil system and terrestrial food production systems and societies

6 - Atmosphere systems and societies

7 - Climate change and energy production

8 - Human system and resource use

External Exam Paper 1

1 hour - 25%

External Exam Paper 2

2 hours - 50%

Internal Practical Assessments


 Short- response questions, data- response questions and case study questions linked to a resource booklet you will be given

Section A Short- response questions and some structured problems.

Section B is essay based, you need to write two essays (from a choice of four).

Practical and write up. You will identify a specific  ESS issue, develop methodology to generate data and analyse the outcomes, applying this to other situations.