Group 4 – Sciences
The Nature of science (NOS) is an overarching theme in the biology, chemistry and physics courses. This can be unpacked as:
1. What is science and what is the scientific endeavour?
2. The understanding of science
3. The objectivity of science
4. The human face of science
5. Scientific literacy and the public understanding of science
For all sciences courses previous knowledge is essential.
The Biology, Chemistry and Physics courses share a common structure. Students at standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) undertake a common core syllabus, a common internal assessment (IA) scheme and have some overlapping elements in the option studied. They are presented with a syllabus that encourages the development of certain skills, attributes and attitudes.
While the skills and activities of group 4 science subjects are common to students at both SL and HL, students at HL are required to study some topics in greater depth, in the additional higher level (AHL) material and in the common options. The distinction between SL and HL is one of breadth and depth.
The assessment pattern is the same for all Group 4 subjects. Written papers at the end of the course contribute 80 % of the final mark. The internal assessment requirements are the same for biology, chemistry and physics. The internal assessment, worth 20% of the final assessment, consists of one scientific investigation. The individual investigation should cover a topic that is commensurate with the level of the course of study.
The Biology, Chemistry and Physics courses share a common structure as each one is in 3 parts: a core of material that is studied at both Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL), additional material that is taken at HL only and options, of which two need to be studied at both SL and HL. The assessment pattern is the same for all Group 4 subjects. Written papers at the end of the course contribute 76% of the final mark. The remaining 24% is based on practical work, including fieldwork in some subjects, set and assessed internally by the subject teachers throughout the course, and subsequently moderated externally. As part of this internal assessment, all students studying either one or two group 4 subjects must take part in a cross-disciplinary Group 4 Project.
In Biology you will study not only the science of living organisms but also develop a broad understanding of the overarching principles of the subject. These principles are found in the four basic concepts that run through the course. The first concept concerns the fact that the structures present in living organisms are intimately integrated to their function. The second is the concept of evolution which is viewed as the major driving force behind organism diversity. The third concept explains that a dynamic equilibrium is essential for the continuity of life at both ends of the Biological scale from the smallest bacterium to the ecosystems in which we live. The last concept focuses on the idea that whilst many molecules, processes and structures are common to many organisms, these organisms are nevertheless of such a mind-blowing diversity as to make their direct comparison almost impossible to begin.
- Biology HL & SL
In Chemistry students will, through academic study and investigational skills, study materials, their properties and the conversion of these materials through a variety of reactions. Although Chemistry is a subject worthy of its own study, it is often a prerequisite for a lot of other science courses in higher education: it is essential for those who wish to study Medicine, Pharmacy, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology.
- Chemistry HL & SL
Physics is a subject of enormous breadth. In physics students will seek explanations to the universe itself. Physics enables us to alter our surroundings – to build bridges, launch satellites and make delicate instruments for microsurgery. It has given us the internet and advances in sports equipment and medical imaging. It may also provide the answers to the big issues facing the world in the 21st century, such as the shortage of world energy resources and climate change.
- Physics HL & SL
Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS)
Students will be able to study this course successfully with no specific previous knowledge of science or geography. ESS is a transdisciplinary course which complies with the requirements of both group 3 and group 4. Thus, it widens a student’s choice of subjects. As it is only offered at Standard Level (SL), it is not a qualification for university entry. Rather, it should be looked on as an asset. The prime intent of this course is to provide students with a coherent perspective of the interrelationships between environmental systems and societies. This will enable them to adopt an informed personal response to the wide range of pressing environmental issues that they will inevitably come to face. The students would be able to analyse their own relationship with their environment and understand the significance of choices and decisions they make in their own lives. This course aims to foster an international perspective and awareness of local and global environmental concerns.
- Environmental Systems and Societies SL