Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary science that includes many areas including biology, chemistry, physics, maths and geography. It is a very rapidly growing field that encompasses careers from politics to conservation biology, nuclear physics to sustainable building and much else as well. The number of jobs in the environmental science sector is growing by around 5% annually as we recognise the importance of effectively managing man’s interaction with the environment whilst continuing to maintain and improve our quality of life.
The A Level Environmental Science course builds upon the knowledge gained across GCSE subjects and draws together a wide range of topics and skills. It helps you to understand the Earths processes, both physical and biological. It allows you to discuss the impact of human activity on the environment and evaluate strategies used to reduce climate change, energy requirements, conservation and agriculture and thinks about how these often competing needs can be balanced. You will learn how to develop accurate research methods that will allow you to collect representative data as well as understand how mathematical analysis is used to validate theories. As part of your studies you will undertake practical field activities using specialist equipment to collect data for study. Environmental Science is a vibrant and exciting subject that enables you to have an enhanced understanding of the world around you.
A Level students follow the AQA Environmental Science specification (7447).
The course consists of 7 taught modules.
1. The living environment
2. The physical environment
3. Energy resources
5. Biological resources
7. Research methods
At CAST we begin year 12 with the research methods unit this provides an insight into the practical techniques required to explore environmental science, the unit is almost completely taught by practical field work. It includes ecological techniques that explores both biotic and abiotic factors as well as looking at how modern technology is allowing new opportunities for research. The techniques used in this unit can then be applied throughout the course. Students go onto look at the living and physical environments. These units provide a basis for understanding our environment and man’s interaction with it. They cover the origin of the Earth, understanding what drives changes in the atmosphere, oceans and weather and how man impacts on these, including the effects of climate change, ozone depletion and the harvesting of raw materials. In the living world we learn about biodiversity and how man is impacting on this, both negatively through exploitation and positively through conservation. We go on to start to look at the more applied units, finishing year 12 looking at biological resources. In the unit we explore issues around agriculture, aquaculture and forestry, understanding how industries can be made more efficient, the impact they have on the natural world (and how this can be reduced) and improvements that could be made.
The year 13 course starts off exploring mankind’s dependence on energy. We investigate which industries use energy, where energy is used and how it is produced. We go on to look at how the impact of energy generation can be mitigated and what new technologies are being developed and the impact they may have, including the development of renewables. We go on to explore man’s impact on the environment more fully through the pollution unit. Looking at how pollutants can be monitored, controlled or reduced. These could be chemicals, such as greenhouse gases, particulates, pesticides, or heavy metals to name but a few, or physical pollutants such as heat or noise. Year 13 concludes with the sustainability unit, this is a synoptic unit that brings together much of what has been learnt throughout the course. Developing ideas such as positive and negative feedback, equilibria, material cycles and the circular economy.
At CAST we believe that science is a practical subject and we strive to make lessons as interactive and practical as possible. Our Challenge Projects are what sets us apart from other schools, and you will find there is a lot of crossover of content between these projects and Environmental Science. We work directly with Cambridge and Anglian Water to survey our local waterways as part of our Challenge Projects. We believe that every lesson counts towards your future regardless of whether it is in the classroom, during Challenge, or in work.
Students sit two 3 hour papers at the end of year 13, the marks are based upon subject knowledge (30-35%), application of knowledge (40-45%) and analysis of information (25-30%). In addition 10% of the final marks will be based upon mathematical skills and a further 15% upon understanding of practical work. Students also have to complete 2 days of practical work over the course.
Minimum entry requirements for A level courses: 7 GCSEs at grade 9-4 (including English grade 4) with double or triple science (grade 6/6) and Maths (grade 5).
Please see our website for more information - https://cast.education/curriculum/a-level
Students graduating from Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology will be exceptionally well prepared to progress into higher education, work or an apprenticeship, ready to build careers that contribute to the Cambridge success story.
Graduating from Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology will give you a head start when it comes to choosing a university. Employers are seeking specialist science staff in all areas, and a degree will help take your career to the next level.
Our employer partners are highly supportive of apprenticeships, and offer opportunities to our students. Apprentices are paid while they train, attending college one day a week and learning hands-on in the workplace as they gain valuable qualifications. They also offer an alternative route to higher education.
The Cambridge area is full of highly successful employers ready to take on new staff who leave Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology with an impressive range of specialist qualifications – ready to go straight into the workplace and develop their careers.
More specifically, Environmental Science will help you to develop a number of transferable skills such as research, analytical and evaluative techniques, as well as drawing together information from a number of scientific disciplines. It is a new and emerging area of study that is focussed on the development of strategies to overcome global issues that we are currently facing. It can lead on to a range of degree level courses or apprenticeships in a number of careers such as; environmental consultant; environmental engineer; environmental education officer; environmental manager; marine biologist; nature conservation; sustainability consultant; water quality scientist; geoscientist and many others.