Environmental Studies

Course CodeVEN100
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


This is an introductory course. It aims to provide you with a better understanding of the physical surroundings of the world we live in. By studying the environment you should increase your awareness and understanding of the world, you should begin to notice things in your surroundings which you didn't notice before, and you will increase your appreciation of the complexities and intricacies of the natural and man made world which you live in.

Lesson Structure

There are 6 lessons in this course:

  1. Living Things
    • Classification of plants and animals
    • identifying living organisms
    • using identification keys
  2. Basic Ecology
    • Populations
    • communities
    • ecosystems
    • constituents of ecosystem
    • the ecosphere
    • the web of life
    • habitats and niches
    • humans in the environment.
  3. Global Environmental Systems
    • The Earth’s structure
    • the atmosphere
    • climatic systems
    • Gaia theory
    • the carbon dioxide cycle
    • El Nino.
  4. Environmental Problems
    • Deforestation
    • loss of agricultural land
    • loss of biological diversity
    • loss of water
    • loss of non renewable resources
    • environmental weeds
    • the Greenhouse Effect
    • Ozone depletion
    • ozone as a Greenhouse gas
  5. Conservation
    • The definition and goals of conservation
    • the history of conservation
    • natural resources (renewable and non renewable).
  6. Acting Locally: Thinking Globally
    • Humans and water
    • how to minimize water usage
    • energy use in the home
    • reducing household waste
    • domestic transport and its affect on pollution
    • building materials and their environmental impact.


  • To understand the binomial system of classifying living things
  • To understand the use of keys to identify living things
  • To grasp the basics of ecology (the relationships between living organisms and their environment)
  • To have a basic grounding in Earth Science and an understanding of global environmental systems
  • To understand the Earth’s major environmental problems and how they have come about
  • To gain an understanding of conservation and its importance to individuals and the world
  • To learn a range of ways to reduce the environmental impact of ones’ actions at home and globally

What You Will Do

  • Classify a range of living organisms in your locality
  • Identify the genus and species names of plants in a nursery
  • Compose a food web for your local area
  • Carry out basic research into the weather in your area and what affects it
  • Carry out in depth research into at least one major environmental problem
  • Contact three conservation organisations to determine the issues they deal with
  • Survey a building to determine the types of building materials used
  • Design an environmentally friendly house

Climate Change

Climate change is largely due to greenhouse gases produced through human activity. Greenhouse gases reduce the amount of heat being released into space and absorb heat from the sun in the atmosphere. It is important to understand that the greenhouse effect and climate change are two different things.  Without the greenhouse effect, Earth would be uninhabitable for humans as it keeps the Earth at a warm temperature, however, there is mounting evidence that anthropogenic (human) carbon dioxide and other human activities are affecting the world’s climate.  In effect human activity appears to be responsible for increasing the greenhouse effect to a point causing increasing global temperature rises, this is known as climate change.

Changes in climate include increased average air and ocean temperatures, melting of snow and ice and rising sea levels.  Ocean circulation and atmospheric changes have also altered global rainfall and wind patterns. During the last 100 years, the global average surface temperature increased by about 0.7°C.  Although this increase seems small, it has a large impact on the earth’s climate.

Climate change has social, economical and environmental impacts. Countries such as Australia are more vulnerable to climate change due to the arid nature of the continent. Two of the major changes are:

  • Hydrological changes - changes in the hydrological cycle at regional and global scales.  This contributes to the reduced amount of water stored as ice in glaciers and changes in rainfall patterns.

  •  Biological changes – changes in the range of plant and animal species to higher latitudes and altitudes. Changes in species composition and abundance as well as flowering timing and migration.

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