A Level Environmental Field Studies

The only way to study aspects of the AS and A2 (A level) Environmental Studies course is to go outside and carry out fieldwork!

The Isle of Wight is an ideal venue for field study courses in Environmental Studies as the island has many protected sites under U.K. and E.U. conservation designations. The Island also offers a diverse range of field study sites, which lend themselves to relevant case studies on the course, all within close proximity to the Centre.

The Centre with its unique location and resources available to students, also demonstrates one of the key concepts of Sustainability in A2 Environmental Studies as it has a fully working wind turbine, has been recognised as an Eco-Centre.

The Environmental Studies course uses field work case studies to illustrate key concepts. The field study case studies can also be used to collect valuable data which allows students to analyse and evaluate scientific techniques in conjunction with how science works and carry out relevant statistical tests.

We have been local providers of A Level Environmental Studies for IOW Schools, and can therefore offer high quality fieldwork for visiting schools to the Isle of Wight. Our field study tutors have developed long term data sets over the years which students can use to enhance their work and understanding of AS and A2 Environmental Studies. Our tutors are also active in their own research and have a unique local knowledge of the Isle of Wight, which supplemented by our extensive library and online resources, provides a valuable dimension to all our field study courses.

All field study sites are within a 40 minute drive from the Medina Valley Centre, or within walking distance.

AS and A2 Environmental Studies field study courses are tailored to meet individual requirements, but there is an exemplar 3 day programme in the related section.

Popular options within an A Level Environmental Studies programme are outlined below:

Sustainability and Renewable Energy

Students are able to carry out an environmental audit of the Medina Valley Centre, as part of their studies. We also have our own wind turbine and leading manufacturers of wind turbines in the world, Vestas R & D Centre has just been constructed, practically on our doorstep.  There are also a number of solar farms on the Island and it is possible to arrange a visit and speak with a farmer about the use of solar power.

Zonation and Succession of a Saltmarsh

Students can investigate the concepts of zonation and succession on a salt marsh by measuring percentage cover of plants and taking soil samples. Students can also investigate the reasons why the saltmarsh has been given the conservation designations of SSSI, SPA, SAC and Ramsar site.

Pollution of Local Streams

Students can carry out an investigation into the pollution levels in two rivers by assessing physical, chemical and biological techniques used to assess water quality in a freshwater habitat. They will collect first hand data from the rivers, including sampling the freshwater invertebrates found in a kick sample. The Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) monitoring system is used to analyse the results.

Estuarine Ecosystem

Students carry out practical work to involve core sampling for invertebrates on mudflats of the Medina Estuary adjacent to the Centre and abiotic variables including tidal height, turbidity and salinity are also measured. The data is used to construct food chains, webs and pyramids of number and biomass and can be compared with data from other local ecosystems.

Conservation and Management of the Medina Estuary

The Medina Valley has been given high conservation status and has been designated an SSSI, Ramsar Site, SPA and SAC. Students investigate reasons why these designations have been given and walk along the estuary footpath to record Land Use and potential conflicts with nature conservation to highlight problems of planning & development control within the Medina Valley.


This option ties in nicely with AQA Environmental Studies Unit 2: The Physical Environment. Students explore St Catherine’s Point & Alum Bay, are taught how the Isle of Wight is formed and how what is beneath our feet affects our use of the land.

Farm Visit

Students can visit a local arable or organic farm and are given a guided tour by the farmer. They will be able to discuss farming techniques, farming conservation schemes, biological control and maximising agricultural yields and how to optimise use of natural and artificial fertilisers. A good chance to experience farm life first hand.

Rocky Seashore

Students are taken to a rocky shore to investigate the diversity of different parts of the shore and how different organisms interact to form food webs and competitive relationships. Pyramids of number, biomass and energy can be generated, which can be compared with data from other local ecosystems. The population of the dog whelk, Nucella lapilus, can also be investigated as its population decreased rapidly as a result of TBT (tributyltin) pollution in the early 1980s and is now in a state of recovery. There is also the opportunity to study global warming indicator species, such as the purple topshell, Gibbula umbilicalis, whose population has increased rapidly on the Isle of Wight in recent years.

Management of Tourism

The tourist honey pot sites that attract concentrations of tourists intrude on the Isle of Wight landscape and put pressure on the fragile environment. These honey pot sites, and the Green Tourism and Sustainable Tourism initiatives taking place on the Island, provide students with interesting and relevant case study material.

Forest Management

Students can have a guided walk around a local woodland and discuss the management of woodlands and the impact that has on the environment.  There is also the chance to investigate the effect of trees on micro-climates, using data loggers and meters.  The students can carry out an investigation of the effect of atmospheric pollution on lichen populations, using the OPAL resources.


Exemplar Programme