Environmental Studies A Level (Archived)

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Course 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 access to the internet.

Duration 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.


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.


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

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


Assignments do not contribute towards your final grade but provide you with an opportunity to submit work to your tutor for marking and feedback. This will help you to gauge your progress as you work through the course.

This course has:
  • 1 introductory assignment
  • 7 AS assignments
  • 7 A2 assignments

Set texts and resources

Additional texts:
  • AQA Environmental Studies AS and A2 (student book), R Genn, Nelson Thornes 2009

Using learn@nec

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

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.

Paying in instalments

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over monthly instalments 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)

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