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National 5 Environmental Science Overview

The Course develops a scientific understanding of environmental issues. It provides a broad and up-to-date selection of ideas relevant to the role of environmental science in society. This develops an understanding of environmental issues and possible solutions to these.

The Course provides a range of opportunities for learners to investigate key areas of the living environment such as biodiversity and interdependence. Through the Earth’s systems, learners will investigate resource issues in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and biosphere.

Sustainability and sustainable development will be explored through food, water and energy security, as well as investigating issues regarding waste.

In addition, learners will recognise the impact environmental science makes on their lives, on the lives of others, on the environment, and on society.

Due to its interdisciplinary nature, learners can gain additional benefit from studying Environmental Science along with other science subjects and/or Geography, as this will enhance the learner’s skills, knowledge and understanding.

Course structure

The Course develops skills in an environmental science context. Learners will gain an understanding of environmental science, and develop this through a variety of approaches, including practical activities.

The Course has three mandatory Units, as listed below,

Environmental Science: Living Environment (National 5)

In this Unit, learners will develop knowledge and skills and carry out practical and other learning activities related to the living environment. This will be within the main themes of ecosystems, inter-relationships, and biodiversity. Practical activities could include fieldwork to sample and identify living things and measure non-living factors in an ecosystem. The Key areas covered are: Investigating ecosystems and biodiversity; Interdependence and Human influences on biodiversity.

Environmental Science: Earth’s Resources (National 5)

In this Unit, learners will develop skills of scientific inquiry, investigation and analytical thinking, along with knowledge and understanding in the context of the Earth’s resources. Learners will research issues and communicate information related to their findings, which will develop skills of scientific literacy. The key areas covered are: an overview of Earth systems and their interactions; the geosphere; the hydrosphere; the biosphere and the atmosphere.

Environmental Science: Sustainability (National 5)

In this Unit, learners will develop skills of scientific inquiry, investigation and analytical thinking, along with knowledge and understanding in the context of sustainability. Learners will research issues and communicate information related to their findings, which will develop skills of scientific literacy. The key areas covered are: an introduction to sustainability; food; water; energy and waste management.

ASSESSMENT National 5

INTERNAL COURSE ASSESSMENT

At the end of each Unit, pupils sit a test which assesses their knowledge and understanding as well as their problem solving ability. Pupils must pass these tests in order to sit the final exam. Any pupil who fails a test will have the opportunity to take another test on the Unit, after appropriate revision.

All pupils will sit a prelim exam in January as preparation for this final exam.

EXTERNAL COURSE ASSESSMENT

Structure and coverage of the Course assessment

The Course assessment will consist of two Components: a question paper, and an assignment. The question paper will have one Section. The assignment will have one Section.

Course assessment structure

Component 1 — question paper 80 marks

Component 2 — assignment 20 marks

Total marks 100 marks

Component 1 — question paper

The purpose of the question paper is to assess breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding from across the Units.

The question paper will have 80 marks out of a total of 100 marks. This is 80% of the overall marks for the Course assessment.

The question paper will have one Section, which contains restricted and extended response questions.

Component 2 — assignment

The purpose of the assignment is to assess the application of skills of scientific inquiry and related environmental science knowledge and understanding.

The assignment will give learners an opportunity to demonstrate the following skills, knowledge and understanding by:

  • applying knowledge of environmental science to new situations and interpreting information

  • selecting information from a variety of sources

  • presenting information appropriately in a variety of forms

  • processing the information (using calculations and units, where appropriate)

  • drawing valid conclusions and giving explanations supported by evidence/justification

  • communicating findings/information

     

The assignment will have 20 marks out of a total of 100 marks. This is 20% of the overall marks for the Course assessment.

The assignment offers challenge by requiring skills, knowledge and understanding to be applied in a context that is one or more of the following:

  • unfamiliar

  • familiar but investigated in greater depth

  • integrates a number of familiar contexts

 

This assignment has two stages:

  • a research stage

  • a communication stage

 

For their assignment, learners are required to:

  • choose, with support, a relevant topic in environmental science that has an effect on the environment and/or society

  • devise an appropriate aim

  • describe the relevant application(s) of environmental science and explain the effect on the environment/society

  • research the topic by selecting, processing and presenting relevant data/information

  • draw a conclusion

  • describe underpinning environmental science knowledge and understanding and explain its relevance to the topic researched

  • communicate the findings of the research in a report