Course Syllabus

Advanced Placement Environmental Science is designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science. This course has been developed to be a rigorous science course that stresses scientific principles and analysis and includes a laboratory component. Students must have already successfully completed both Pre-Advanced Placement Biology and Pre-Advanced Placement Chemistry.  

The goal of AP Environmental Science is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving or preventing them.

Environmental science is interdisciplinary; it embraces a wide variety of topics from different areas of study. Yet there are several major unifying constructs, or themes, that cut across the many topics included in the study of environmental science. The following themes provide a foundation for the structure of this AP Environmental Science course.

 1. Science is a process.

  • Science is a method of learning about the world.
  • Science constantly changes the way we understand the world.


  1. Energy conversions underlie all ecological processes.
  • Energy cannot be created; it must come from somewhere.
  • As energy flows through systems, at each step more of it becomes unusable.


  1. The Earth itself is one interconnected system.
  • Natural systems change over time and space.
  • Biogeochemical systems vary in the ability to recover from disturbances.


  1. Humans alter natural systems.
  • Humans have had an impact on the environment for millions of years
  • Technology and population growth have enabled humans to increase both the rate and scale of their impact on the environment.


  1. Environmental problems have a cultural and social context.
  • Understanding the role of cultural, social and economic factors is vital to the development of solutions.


  1. Human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable




Environmental Science for AP Friedland and Relyea. W.H. Freeman and Company/BFW. 2012 - Online

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 (additionally/optional) Living in the Environment Twelfth edition. G. Tyler Miller Jr. Brooks/Cole Publishing. 2002 (issued by CPHS)


Course objectives:  are for students to

  1.  Learn the general concepts and terminology that are characteristics of ecology, the physical and biological principles that underlie environmental issues, and how the scientific method can be used to deal with environmental questions.
  2. Appreciate the role that economics, history, religion and other cultural factors have played in the human impact on the environment.
  3. Enlarge their world view to the level of “spaceship Earth” and the “global village” and see how issues of population, energy, resource distribution, and consumption relate to these concepts.
  4. Become familiar with environmental issues that affect our local community and learn how to take a personal and political action on behalf of the environment.
  5. Increase awareness of themselves as part of nature, their sense of responsibility for nature, and their enjoyment of it.
  6. Increase their ability to apply knowledge to the solution of complex problems, to see the interrelatedness of all areas of study and to “make connections.”
  7. Enhance skills in writing and oral communication and in the interpretation of various kinds of data summaries.

 Course Outline:

 Fall Semester

  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Systems
  • Ecosystem Ecology
  • Global Climates & Biomes
  • Evolution of Biodiversity
  • Conservation of Biodiversity
  • Populations & Community Ecology
  • The Human Population
  • Earth Systems

 Spring Semester

  • Energy
  • Air Pollution
  • Global Change
  • Water Resources
  • Water Pollution
  • Land Use
  • Feeding the World
  • Waste Generation & Disposal
  • Human Health & Environmental Risks
  • Sustainability, Economics, & Equity

Course Summary:

Date Details