Order of Teaching

The course is not designed to be taught in numerical order, and the IB does not stipulate any specific sequence (though you may find their suggestions within the support materials). Teachers are free to schedule the course as per the needs of their students and to fit the their own school calendar; you can teach the chapters in any order that suits you. My personal scheme of work is available here.

Things to consider

When deciding on the appropriate order of teaching, consider the following:

  • The IA: Students will submit their IA before completing the course which means some topics will be taught after finishing the IA. Several chapters provide knowledge and skills that are of potential importance for tackling the IA and so teachers will probably want to teach those chapters earlier in the course. Use this advice with caution, however, as ALL chapters have some potential relevance to the the project a student might choose.
  • Field Work: Chapter 2.5 focuses on field work and teachers may wish to schedule this chapter to coincide with a school field trip. Teaching this chapter as theory and then applying those skills later is also acceptable.
  • Linked Chapters: Some chapters connect nicely with others and depending on the teacher’s personal approach, it may make sense to teach one chapter in preparation for another. By way of example, teaching chapters 8.1 and 8.4 prior to teaching 1.4 is very logical in my opinion.

Suggested Order of Teaching

Topic Sequence

The sequence below is my own personal preference:

Year 1:

  • 1.2 Systems and Models
  • 1.1 Environmental Value Systems
  • 1.3 Energy and Equilibria
  • 8.2 Resource Use in Society
  • 8.4 Human Systems and Resource Use
  • 1.4 Sustainability
  • 1.5 What is Pollution?
  • 2.1 Species and Populations
  • 2.2. Communities and Ecosystems
  • 2.3 Flows of Energy and Matter
  • 2.4 Biomes, Zonation and Succession
  • 2.5 Investigating Ecosystems
  • 5.1 Introduction to Soil Systems
  • 5.2 Terrestrial Food Production Systems and Food Choices
  • 5.3 Soil Degradation and Conservation
  • 8.1 Human Population Dynamics
  • 8.3 Solid Domestic Waste
  • 3.1 An Introduction to Biodiversity
  • 3.2 Origins of Biodiversity
  • 3.3 Threats to Biodiversity
  • 3.4 Conservation of Biodiversity
  • IA Preparation

Year 2:

  • 4.1 Introduction to Water Systems
  • 4.2 Access to Freshwater
  • 4.3 Aquatic Food Production Systems
  • Dedicated IA time (2-3 weeks)
  • 4.4 Water Pollution
  • 6.1 Introduction to the Atmosphere
  • 6.2 Stratospheric Ozone
  • 6.3 Photochemical Smog
  • 6.4 Acid Deposition
  • 7.1 Energy choices and Security
  • 7.2 Climate Change – Causes and Impacts
  • 7.3 Climate Change – Mitigation and Adaptation
Rationale Behind the Suggested Sequence

The reasoning for my order of teaching:

  • I aim to cover topics 1, 2, 5 and 8 prior to students tackling the IA as I feel knowledge and skills gained in these section are potentially relevant to the sorts of IA topics students may choose.
  • I feel 1.2 is a better starting point than 1.1 because chapter 1.2 teaches the nature of the systems approach and how can use models in understanding these systems. In my opinion this the most crucial foundational topic and belongs at the beginning
  • Chapters 8.1 and 8.4 link closely with, end set a foundation for, the ideas presented in “1.4 sustainability” and so they are taught before that chapter.