1.2 – Systems and Models

The systems approach is central to the ESS course. Modern science tends to use a reductionism approach which involves researching a very specific aspect of the subject being studied, while the systems approach looks more broadly at subject as a whole.

Which is better, reductionism or the systems approach, is a matter of opinion.

A Buddhist parable about blind men touching individual parts of an elephant, each gaining no understanding of what an elephant really is, illustrates the benefit of a systems approach.


1The systems approach
2Systems diagrams
4The Gaia hypothesis
Chapter Workbook
Vocabulary Sheet
  • Construct and evaluate a systems diagram from given information on a system.
  • Use and evaluate a simple software model (e.g. Lovelock‚Äôs Daisy World).
  • Design, construct and monitor a mesocosm.

Full PSOW here.

Essay Task

“Evaluate the Lotka-Volterra equations as a model for predator prey relationships.” [9 marks]

View essay markbands

The essay should marked using the Paper 2, Section B essay markbands.

PDF Version

Google Docs Version

Google Docs 1.2 essay

Open the link and make a copy to your own drive. The doc can easily be shared as an “Assignment” on Google Classroom.

A markbands rubric designed for Google Classroom is available here.