Skip To Main Content

Menu Trigger Container


Search Container

Campus Container

IB Environmental Systems and Societies SL

(2-year course)


Grades: 11–12 (two-year course)

Subject Area/Course Credit: Social Studies, 1 credit each year

Prerequisite: C or above in Coordinated Science II, or C- or above in AP Physics 1, or science teacher recommendation

IB Group 3 or Group 4

IB Environmental Systems and Societies SL is a two-year course designed to prepare students for the IB exam at the end of the second year.

Environmental systems and societies (ESS) is an interdisciplinary course, encompassing both the sciences and individuals and societies. As such, ESS combines a mixture of methodologies, techniques and knowledge associated with both the sciences and individuals and societies. ESS is both a complex and contemporary course that engages students in the challenges of 21st century environmental issues. Consequently, it requires its students to develop a diverse set of skills, knowledge and understanding from different disciplines. Students develop a scientific approach through explorations of environmental systems. They also acquire understandings and methods from individuals and societies subjects whilst studying sustainability issues within social, cultural, economic, political, and ethical contexts. The interdisciplinary nature of the course means students produce a synthesis of understanding from the various topics studied. It also emphasizes the ability to perform research and investigations and to participate in philosophical, ethical, and pragmatic discussions of the issues involved from the local through to the global level. 

Topic 1: Foundation 
1.1 Perspectives 
1.2 Systems 
1.3 Sustainability
Topic 2: Ecology 
Topic 3: Biodiversity and conservation 
Topic 4: Water 
Topic 5: Land 
Topic 6: Atmosphere and climate change 
Topic 7: Natural resources 
Topic 8: Human populations and urban systems
Experimental programme
Practical work 
Collaborative sciences project 
Scientific investigation