A Level Environmental Studies

What is Environmental Studies?

Environmental Studies is about a range of issues of environmental importance and the scientific principles and concepts which underpin them. This is achieved through the study of the biological and physical factors of the Earth, their interrelationships and human needs in relation to these factors. It is the study of human influences on the Earth's features, the stresses placed on them through the use of resources, including waste and pollution; leading onto how these resources, waste and pollution are managed and conserved through various strategies.

What sort of student does it suit and what will you get out of the course?

The Environmental Studies course has been designed to be accessible to a wide range of candidates. There are no subject criteria, although GCSE Biology and Geography would be an advantage. This course is worthwhile for general education and lifelong learning. The material studied would be useful for those intending to pursue a wide range of careers, such as business, industry and town planning, as well as careers more directly involved in the environment or sciences.

AS Level

MPW approach to AS study

MPW adopts an integrated approach to the teaching of these two interrelated units. Wide reading, not only of textbooks, but also of newspapers and relevant websites, is required and students complete a minimum of two pieces of written work per week. The weekly timed assignments examine students on topics which they have covered over the previous week. In the third term, a systematic paper-by- paper revision is undertaken, with revision tests covering any aspect of the specification.

AS Specification Number
AQA 1441


Unit 1 (ENVS1)

1h exam 40% (20%)
The Living Environment.
This unit contains an introduction to the biodiversity of life on Planet Earth. The reasons why the conservation of life on Earth is important are investigated, as are the methods which may be used to achieve effective conservation. Conservation in the UK, coral reefs, Antarctica and tropical rainforests are used to develop these issues further.

Unit 2 (ENVS2)

1h 30m exam 60% (30%)
The Physical Environment.
This unit starts by focussing on how physical resources, such as atmospheric gases, water and mineral nutrients are essential for life on Earth. It then moves on to investigate how humans exploit and manage physical resources to provide higher material living standards.

Reading list

Richard Genn  AQA A Level Environmental Studies  Nelson Thornes 


A2 Level

MPW approach to A2 study

Students will need to work extremely hard during the second half of the course, where the additional intellectual demands of A2 (as compared to AS) mean that greater breadth of reading and current affairs is required to successfully discuss and debate issues. The depth of analysis of knowledge and use of exam techniques are crucial to top grades. The course is therefore taught systematically, topic- by-topic. Homework and tests are paper-specific so that students may be introduced at an early stage to the styles and demands of each paper.

A2 Specification Number
AQA 2441


Unit 3 (ENVS3)

1h 30m exam 50% (25%)
Energy Resources and Environmental Pollution.
Future problems of energy supply and how these may be resolved are investigated in this unit through the study of the energy resources which are available for use. The properties of pollutants are considered to explain why some materials or forms of energy cause environmental damage. These issues are developed through the study of a range of atmospheric, aquatic and terrestrial pollutants. The strategies which may be used to minimise releases, treat effluents and manage the damage caused are considered. These issues allow consideration of the issues related to units 1 and 2 which involve pollution.

Unit 4 (ENVS4)

2h exam 50% (25%)
Biological Resources and Sustainability.
The factors controlling human population growth are considered in relation to the demands placed upon the plant's resources and life-support systems. Food production and forestry systems are analysed, with particular emphasis on the limiting factors affecting productivity, the environmental problems caused by these systems and the ways in which problems can be addressed. The study of the sustainability of human lifestyles allows synoptic consideration of the other modules in the specification.

Reading list

Richard Genn  AQA A Level Environmental Studies  Nelson Thornes