Through studying environmental systems and societies (ES&S) students will be provided 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.
The teaching approach is such that students are allowed to evaluate the scientific, ethical and socio-political aspects of issues.
ES&S is one of two interdisciplinary courses offered in the Diploma Programme, Literature and Performance is the other interdisciplinary course. Because it is an interdisciplinary course, students can study this course and have it count as either an individuals and societies or a science course, or both. This gives students the opportunity to study (an) additional subject(s) from any group.
Students will be able to study this course successfully with no specific previous knowledge of science or geography. However, as the course aims to foster an international perspective, awareness of local and global environmental concerns and an understanding of the scientific methods, a course that shares these aims would be good preparation.
During the course, students will study eight different topics. An important aspect of the ES&S course is hands-on work in the laboratory and/or out in the field.
Key features of the curriculum and assessment models
- Available only at standard level (SL)
- The minimum prescribed number of hours is 150
- A hands-on approach to the course delivery is emphasised.
- Students are assessed both externally and internally
- External assessment consists of two written papers and provides opportunities for students to demonstrate an understanding through the application, use, synthesis, analysis and evaluation of environmental issues, information, concepts, methods, techniques and explanations.
- Internal assessment task accounts for 25% of the final assessment. This involves the completion of an individual investigation of an ESS research question that has been designed and implemented by the student. The investigation is submitted as a written report.
Learn more about ES&S in a DP workshop for teachers.
Environmental systems and societies subject brief
Subject briefs are short two-page documents providing an outline of the course. Read the standard level (SL) and/or higher level (HL) subject brief below.
Latest curriculum updates
This subject is reviewed by the IB regularly to ensure the latest educational research is applied. Please keep up to date with the latest subject updates for Environmental systems and societies.