Environmental Studies A Level

Due to ongoing reforms, the final opportunity to sit exams for this specification is Summer 2018.

The deadline for enrolling is 30th November and we strongly recommend adding our Fast Track service to your enrolment.

The management of the planet’s limited resources is becoming a more and more pertinent issue, and one that’s leading to an increasing number of career opportunities in areas that make use of the knowledge and insights that would be gained through studying this distance learning environmental studies A level. Incorporating opportunities for practical work and fieldwork, it uses a scientific approach to identify and analyse environmental issues affecting the modern world and consider ways to solve problems relevant both now and in the future. If you’re interested in pursuing study or a career related to the environment, in areas such as geography, conservation or planning, this home study course is ideal. Full details of the course can be found below.

Would you prefer to pay for your course by instalments? Please see the ‘How to enrol’ section below for details of our low cost, interest free finance available.



Entry requirements

GCSE Science (double award) or GCSE Biology (minimum grade C), or Intermediate GNVQ Science, or a BTEC First in Science is advisable.

This is an online course so you will also need easy access to the internet.


This course follows specifications 2440 (A level), 1441 (AS) and 2441 (A2) from the awarding organisation AQA. Full details of the specifications can be obtained from AQA's website.

Hours of study

As a guideline, you should allow for between 250 and 300 hours' study time, plus additional time for completing assignments. You will have tutor support for a period up until the final exam opportunity in Summer 2018.

Exams and assessment

Four exams:

  • 2 hours, 25% of marks
  • 1 hour 30 minutes, 30% of marks
  • 1 hour 30 minutes, 25% of marks
  • 1 hour, 20% of marks

Non-exam assessment (NEA):

  • None

At the time of writing, please note that due to upcoming changes the final opportunity to sit exams for this course is Summer 2018. For full details view our guide to the A level reforms.

NEC's tutor-marked assignments:

  • 1 introductory assignment
  • 7 AS assignments
  • 7 A2 assignments


Additional information

Your course is delivered online through learn@nec, so it’s important that you have access to a computer and the internet. We recommend that your computer is using one of the following operating systems and browsers to improve your experience of using learn@nec:

Operating systems:

  • Windows 7 or later
  • Mac OSX 10.7 or later
  • Google Chrome OS
  • Android 4.4 or later, using the Chrome browser
  • iOS 6 or later, using the Safari browser


  • Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mozilla Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari 6 or later
  • Internet Explorer 10 or later (excluding IE11)

learn@nec may work on other operating systems and browsers with some restrictions. You can see full details of the system requirements by clicking here.

How to enrol

How to enrol
There are several ways to enrol with NEC:

  • Click the ‘Enrol now’ button above
  • Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team
  • Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.

How can you pay?
It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or spread the cost with our finance offer. To pay in instalments, you will need to enrol by telephone.

Representative examples:

For the full A level
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months

For AS level or A2 level
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months
  0% (fixed)

The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.

Deko is a trading name of Pay4Later Ltd who act as a credit intermediary. They are registered in England and Wales (company number 06447333) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 728646). For more information please go to www.dekopay.com/faq or visit www.dekopay.com.

Unit 1: The living environment

  • Conditions for life on earth
  • The rationale for wildlife conservation
  • How humans threaten wildlife
  • Conservation methods
  • Conservation in the UK
  • UK habitats
  • Conservation abroad
  • Adaptation to the environment
  • Changes in ecosystems
  • Studying ecosystems
  • Diversity, ecological stability and population size
  • Populations
  • Landscape conservation
  • Land-use conflicts and their resolution

Unit 2: The physical environment

  • The composition of the atmosphere and solar radiation
  • Global climate change
  • Control of global climate change
  • Ozone depletion
  • Properties of water and the hydrological cycle
  • Water as a resource
  • Sources of water
  • Water treatment and demand for water
  • Water conservation and management
  • The lithosphere and mineral resources
  • The geological origins of important minerals
  • Resources, reserves and exploitation
  • The carbon cycle
  • The nitrogen and phosphorus cycles
  • Soils

Unit 3: Energy resources and environmental pollution

  • Energy use and characteristics of resources
  • Non-renewable energy sources
  • Renewable energy sources
  • Practical investigations about using renewable energy
  • Secondary fuels, energy storage and environmental impacts
  • The future of energy supplies
  • Properties of pollutants
  • Atmospheric pollution – part 1
  • Atmospheric pollution – part 2
  • Water pollution – part 1
  • Water pollution – part 2
  • Heavy metal pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Ionising radiation
  • Solid wastes

Unit 4: Biological resources and sustainability

  • Human populations and agriculture
  • Agroecosystems – selection of food species
  • Manipulation of food species
  • Control of biotic factors
  • Control of abiotic factors
  • Environmental and social impacts of agriculture
  • Agricultural energetics, economics and political control of agriculture
  • Commercial fishing
  • Aquaculture – fish-farming
  • Forest resources
  • Deforestation
  • Sustainability – part 1
  • Sustainability – part 2
Including area code and country code (if outside of UK)

A Level Environmental Studies Course Sample

Thank you for your interest in this course.

Please fill out your details below, and you will receive an email containing a link to download the course sample.

What our students say...

"I have always been interested in conservation and environment and the company I work for have a growing environmental section which I hope to join. I am very pleased with the whole NEC service. Quick, efficient and reliable. Nothing I can think of needs improvement."
— Louise Hanson