- Full tutor support included
- Make your own study schedule and take advantage of online tutoring hours
- Obtain a certified diploma once you finish the course.
Suitable for: SUITABLE FOR: This course is suitable for all students over the age of 17. Students can study on this course no matter where you are in the World. The course is made up of various units and each build up your knowledge base of the subject. Courses are all delivered in English.
BTEC (HND) in Environmental Science
Subject code: L5ES
BTEC Higher National Diploma in: Environmental Science
Unit 1: Using information, communication and technology ICT in the study of Environmental Science
Learning hours: 60
Information, communication and technology (ICT) comprises core skills for learning. In this distance learning course utilisation of methods, tools and strategies of ICT is important in order to establish and maintain a sound working relationship with tutors and the college.
Students will need to develop ICT skills in order to communicate effectively and maximise their study progression.
The first unit explains how to set up an ePortfolio which students will use during the lifetime of the course for storage of all their files including coursework, self-assessment activities, independent research notes and reflective journals. The ePortfolio may be requested from time to time by tutors and moderators. Students will be asked at various points in the course to upload files for this purpose. The ePortfolio will not only provide students with a structured system of unique information but once completed can be used as a resource for continuing professional development (CPD), and a body of revision for future studies.
Independent research is fundamental to level H5 study and also equips students with confidence to source and evaluate information relevant to the core course topics.
In this first unit students are presented with tools and strategies with which to begin to undertake independent research and integrate this into coursework activities, for example suggesting ways to read research articles and assimilate types of information from these.
The development of knowledge and understanding through writing skills is important for communicating ideas and arguments to tutors and other readers of written work. Therefore this unit reviews writing skills, and incorporates reflective writing into both the course and coursework activities. Reflective writing is a way that individuals can review their own approaches to learning and communication; and it also promotes pro-active implementation of skills enhancement through tutor feedback and self-assessment
Unit 2: Introduction to Environmental science
Learning hours: 60
The first section of the unit covers basic research methods in environmental science and statistical analysis. This is a basic revision of skills that would be acquired at level 3 study
The unit is a general introduction to environmental science topics before subsequent units look in great detail at specific issues and topics
As far as we know, Earth is the only planet that can support life, due to the specific conditions that are necessary in order to allow organisms to survive. The features of planet Earth which provide conditions that permit the existence and continued support of living organisms are described in this topic. This includes discussion about water and oxygen; how life on earth has changed its environment and sustainability of resources
In order for life to survive, various environmental conditions need to be maintained, such as air and water supply, and a hospitable temperature range. If these conditions are not maintained, then some species may be at risk. An
endangeredspecies is a species (either plant or animal) that is in danger of becoming extinct through loss of habitat, habitat degradation, over hunting or harvesting, or other reasons
The unit presents study of the hydrological, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon cycles
Humans are one of the most successful species on the planet, and the current world population stands at approximately 6 billion. The rapid expansion of the human race has led to pressure on wildlife. There are many ways that humans can threaten wildlife, and these include both deliberate and accidental harm
There is growing awareness that conservation is necessary if we are to avoid losing more species of wildlife. There are various methods that can be employed to help protect the environment.
Unit 3: Energy Management and Life Processes
Learning hours: 60
Adaptation to the environment is very important. To be able to survive, all species must be well adapted to the physical and biological environment. Most organisms can only survive within a relatively narrow range of conditions called their Range of Tolerance. Species' adaptations affect their ability to survive environmental change and control management practices in habitats protected for wildlife. Species interdependence often requires conservation of communities of species rather than individual species, due to the fact that many species rely on each other.
The assessment of species diversity is important in monitoring environmental change, damage and the success of conservation efforts. An understanding of population dynamics is important in monitoring species' survival, breeding success and in assessing Maximum Sustainable Yields of exploited species.
Conserving the aesthetic appeal of the environment involves the maintenance of features that are natural or have been produced by human activities and give the countryside its character. Examples include woodlands, hedgerows, stone walls, in-field trees, ditches, banks, ponds and river features.
Study of the atmosphere involves consideration of the composition of the atmosphere and the processes which influence life on Earth. Global climate change and ozone depletion are considered in greater depth. The most significant layers of atmosphere for life on Earth are the troposphere and stratosphere. These are the layers which are affected by human activities, and the atmosphere may be contaminated by varying levels of pollutants.
Minerals are non-renewable resources because the amounts that exist are finite although most are very abundant. Economically recoverable resources account for a tiny proportion of the total that exists. The main limitations on mineral availability are the locations, chemical form and purity of the deposits, and the availability of technologies to exploit them. Their exploitation is economically important but can cause environmental damage.
Elements cycle around the earth continually. The element cycles occur between the gaseous, hydrological, sedimentary and biological reservoirs with varying residence times. They are driven directly or indirectly by solar energy. An understanding of these cycles aids the management of nutrient supply systems and the control of human activities. They can help when making decisions about agricultural management or when predicting the effects of global climate change
Unit 4: Conservation of Resources
Learning hours: 60
The demand for energy is rising, both within the UK and throughout the world as a whole. Over the past 25 years, global energy consumption has risen by around 2% every year. This rise is due in part to rising populations, but also other factors as well
The demand for energy rises as incomes rise. The wealthier people become, the more appliances they are likely to have, and they will also tend to wish to make themselves more comfortable, by keeping warm or cooling themselves down. The demand for products increases with wealth, and the production of these goods requires the use of more energy. People also tend to take more holidays when they have more disposable income, which uses energy in transportation.
As countries become more industrialised, so there is an increase in the demand for energy
Each type of fuel has its own advantages and disadvantages, in terms of their application to particular uses, their environmental impacts and future availability. It is important that all resources are used in a sustainable way so that they will continue to be available for future generations.
Unit 5: Pollution
Learning hours: 60
Pollution is energy or matter released into the environment with the potential to cause adverse changes to an ecosystem. The energy or matter involved is called a pollutant. Each pollutant may have a single or multiple source, and may have a number of effects on the environment, either short-term or long-term. It may have an effect on only one species, or may affect an entire ecosystem.
It is necessary to have an understanding of the properties of pollutants and why they have caused problems. This should make it possible to predict the behaviour of new materials and therefore anticipate and prevent pollution problems.
All pollutants have sources, pathways and sinks. The
sourceis where it came from, the
pathwayis the route it takes to reach various parts of the environment, and the
sinkis the site of accumulation or dispersal. Each pollutant may have a single or multiple source, and may take several pathways, or even be changed along the way into a new pollutant. The properties of a material determine its behaviour as to where it travels and for how long it acts.
Atmospheric pollution is a global problem. Although harmful emissions may occur in a localised area, the global atmospheric system can carry pollution far from its original source, causing damage far and wide. Effective controls of atmospheric pollution require national and international legislation and agreement to control trans-boundary pollutants.
Water bodies, including coastal waters and oceans, act as the final sink for many pollutants. Water can enable pollutants to become mobile and move through streams and rivers to other locations
Noise is the sound produced from the vibration of either a single or multiple source. Noise becomes a pollutant when it is inappropriate to its environment or if it causes harm to structures or organisms, due to volume, duration or pitch.
When energy from radioactive particles and rays transfers to the matter they pass through and ejects electrons from the atoms, it leaves them with an electrical charge. This formation of charged atoms (ions) is called ionisation. In living tissues this can result in the breaking of bonds, such as those within DNA. DNA is very important as it holds all the information about the production of all other substances in the cell.
Solid waste and solid waste disposal, is also a source of pollution which the unit will discuss
Unit 6: Ocean Formation
Learning hours: 60
The ocean covers some 70% of the Earth's surface and is home to a vast array of living organisms, all highly adapted to life in a marine environment. From the tropical fishes and corals of warm low latitudes to the animals of the icy Polar Regions; the sunlit surface of the sea to the deep dark depths of the abyssal plains, the ocean has many discrete habitats. The features of the ocean also vary with time and space from the hourly and daily movements of sediments and ocean currents to the millions of years it takes for the formation of ocean basins to their destruction.
To understand how the oceans form, it is helpful to see how the geological processes of the Earth developed and are responsible for the whole mechanism of ocean formation and destruction.
Earth and our solar system probably formed some 4,550 million years ago (Ma) when clouds of stellar dust and gas condensed from the debris of a supernova explosion; when a dying star collapsed then exploded, sending massive quantities of dust and gas into space, effectively recycling matter in the universe. Following this supernova explosion, gravity caused cold gases and particles of dust to clump together to form larger particles of solid matter, which aggregated into larger and larger particles until eventually small planets called planetesimals formed. These planetesimals were around 10km in diameter and developed a powerful gravitational force, attracting other planetesimals, large rocks and debris from space so that they gradually accreted new material and grew to the size of the planets we see in our solar system. These of course comprise of the small rocky inner planets; Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars and the large gaseous outer planets; Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
For millions of years, gravity attracted debris to the planets until there was little material left from the supernova explosion. Lighter elements were blasted out into space or contributed to the larger gaseous outer planets. The heavier elements settled closer to the Sun and became incorporated into the rocky planets. Some of the lighter debris orbits within the asteroid belt beyond Mars and cometery material orbits within the Kuiper belt, just beyond the orbit of Neptune. For the Earth, this early bombardment caused heating of the planet due to frictional energy. This heating was supplemented by radioactive decay of heavy elements. Volcanic activity was fierce and unrelenting. Heavy elements such as iron and nickel settled toward the core of the Earth and the lighter elements rose to the surface and cooled forming a thin rocky crust.
This unit explores all these stages of formation and the associated marine processes in each stage
Unit 7: Biological Evolution in the Oceans
Learning Hours: 60
The elements which are essential for life are found in abundance throughout the universe. Elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen nitrogen and phosphorus have been produced through cosmic cycling over billions of years and form the basis of self replicating life forms under certain conditions - the most fundamental one being the presence of liquid water.
The earliest definite fossils date back to 3.8 billion years ago, although life was probably present on Earth some 4 billion years ago, a relatively short time after the formation of the Solar System and the Earth itself, which is around 4.6 billion years old. Life began with amino acids and other compounds, which combined into more complex molecules called nucleic acids (the basic constituents of genes) which were capable of self replication. Nucleic acids would have needed a substrate on which to replicate and possible surfaces include those found on clay minerals or sulfide particles.
On the early Earth, during the Hadean era (4.6 to 3.8 billion years ago) conditions were so harsh that almost all burgeoning life would have been destroyed many times over. We will probably never know how many times life began to emerge on Earth before it finally gained a foothold. The surface of the Earth was extremely hot with little land except for a few isolated islands. The weather systems would have produced severe storms and rain and there were frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, due to the convection currents in the Earth's mantle as well as constant meteorite impacts from space. There were, however, some life forms that may have thrived in these conditions and there are specialised bacteria today that are able to survive in similar conditions. When the life first emerged at the beginning of the Archean era, 3.8 billion years ago, the atmosphere was dense and toxic
Scientists now believe that life originates in parts of the universe that have favourable conditions which leads to the possibility that life could exist elsewhere in the universe, perhaps even within our solar system. This unit examines the origins of marine life and the classification of marine species.
Unit 8: Extreme Environments
Learning hours: 60
Coral reefs are one of the most beautiful and diverse marine habitats on Earth, supporting an amazing collection of animals and plants. Although the tropical seas are generally unproductive areas, the reef ecosystem is completely self-contained and recycles nutrients in a highly efficient way so that primary productivity is between 30 and 250 times that of the open ocean.