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GCSE Environmental and Land-Based Science


This course looks at the science involved in protecting the environment and working with plants and animals. It is a science GCSE that applies theory to practice and so a lot of time is spent outside the classroom environment, in the school garden, on farms or on educational visits. It leads on to A-level Environmental Studies or to vocational qualifications in conservation, plant or animal management that can be studied at a specialist college.


We use OCR Specification  which can be viewed on the web site: http://www.ocr.org.uk

OCR GCSE in Environmental and Land-Based Science J271
Unit B681 – Managing the Natural Environment
20% of the total GCSE

Written externally marked exam paper

1 hour


Environmental issues and relationship of the soil to the animals and plants it supports. Human activities and energy requirements and the effects on the environment. Traditional and alternative food production.

Different types of Ecosystems; Landforms, and soil; Animal and plant production systems (agriculture, fisheries & horticulture); Conservation.



Unit B683 – Agriculture, Livestock Husbandry & Horticulture
20% of the total GCSE

Written externally marked exam paper

1 hour


Issues relating to the care and maintenance of plants and livestock in a commercial environment.

Types of food and diet of animals; Digestive systems in ruminants; Fertilisation in different animals and A.I.; Lactation curve; Handling livestock; Plant Biology; Propagating plants from seed; Turf science; Garden design.


UnitB684: Coursework Portfolio
60% of total GCSE

Approx. 38 hours


120 marks

Practical scientific skills (12%)

Scientific investigative project (24%) – assessing skills in planning, data collection/recording, analysis and evaluation;

Work-related report (24%) – a report focusing on an environmental or land-based business and the jobs connected to that business.


Three elements:

Element 1: Practical Scientific Skills presented as an annotated photo diary with a critical reflection. 4 set tasks: 2 tasks based on Unit B681 and 2 based on Units B683; 6 raw marks each.

Element 2: Scientific Investigation based on one or more of the topics studied within the selected units; 48 raw marks.

Element 3: Work-related Report. Candidates to research authentic contexts in which science is important to the environment and land-based sector. Opportunity to learn through work, learn about workplace practice and make links relevant to their scientific knowledge; 48 raw marks.