International Baccalaureate

Medina Valley Centre offers the international Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma programme for Biology and Geography.

IB Biology Field Trip 

The Biology course in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma programme offers Ecology in both the core syllabus and as an option for students studying Biology at both standard level and higher level.
Field study courses at Medina Valley Centre allow IB Biology students to develop their knowledge and enjoyment of Biology and build up some practical hours in the outdoor classroom.

They also provide the opportunity for students to apply their knowledge at the end of the field course by carrying out an individual investigation of their choice on a particular ecosystem or organism. The rocky seashore at the eastern tip of the Island is ideal for carrying out investigations due to the wealth of different marine invertebrates and seaweeds found in the large, shallow rock pools.

For those students taking Option G, a field study course enables them to cover large parts of the syllabus including hands-on use of fieldwork techniques and equipment, such as random sampling and use of quadrats and transects.
All field courses begin with an introduction to ecology and as each group is unique, we tailor the rest of each field course to individual requirements. Risk assessments and resources are available to download beforehand.

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

Recommended options for International Baccalaureate (IB) Biology include:

Estuarine Ecosystem

Students carry out practical work which involves core sampling for invertebrates on mudflats of the Medina Estuary and measure abiotic variables which include tidal height, turbidity and salinity. ICT is used to turn the data the students collected into ecological pyramids of number, biomass and energy, which can be compared with data from other local ecosystems.

Rocky Seashore

Students can carry out an investigation on food webs and feeding relationships to generate ecological pyramids, similar to the study which can be carried out on the estuarine ecosystem. An alternative or supplementary investigation, particularly for those students studying Option G, is to use the rocky seashore to investigate an organism’s niche, inter- and intraspecific competition and the competitive exclusion principle (Gause’s Law).

The rocky seashore provides a brilliant opportunity for all students to see first hand and recognise species from the following animal Phyla: Porifera, Cnidaria, Platyhelminthes, Annelida, Mollusca and Arthropoda as required in Topic 3. Each student can build on this knowledge to develop their own dichotomous key for up to 8 chosen organisms. There are also real live examples of alien species on the seashore, which students will have the opportunity to investigate, as well as many examples of species which use the r-strategy for reproduction.

Saltmarsh Study

The key concepts of zonation and succession (as required for Option G) are taught using the data students obtain by sampling along a transect established to investigate the environmental gradient of a saltmarsh. The Spearman’s Rank statistical test is use to analyse the results of the soil samples.

Pond Study

Students use instruments to measure abiotic factors and a dichotomous key to identify invertebrates to determine the species richness and biodiversity of 3 local ponds. Simpson’s Diversity Index and the Mann-Whitney U statistical test are used to help analyse the data. The pond study is popular as an introductory session on the first afternoon because as some students are familiar with this habitat and all sites are within walking distance. However, the Simpson’s Diversity Index can easily be carried out as part of another option if there is sufficient time available.


Several different organisms can be caught to investigate their population using the mark-release-recapture method. Depending on the time available and tidal conditions, students can investigate the population of periwinkles or topshells on the seashore, crabs in the estuary or small mammals either in the Centre’s grounds or the local woodland. Having collected data the population of the particular species can be estimated using the Lincoln Index.

Conservation Study

There are opportunities to compare first hand the advantages and disadvantages or in situ and ex situ conservation by visiting a Nature Reserve and the Isle of Wight Zoo, particularly considering the zoo’s lemur conservation project. A visit to the zoo also allows students to study the behaviour of spider monkeys and the genetics of the white tiger, of which the zoo has the largest collection in Europe.


IB Geography Fieldwork programme

The programme of fieldwork for International Baccalaureate (IB) Geography is designed with the Geography department from each school to ensure that an investigation is carried out that is closely linked to one of the chosen optional modules . The investigative approach and data collected through fieldwork will give each student the opportunity to produce an original written report to a very high standard.

An exceptional variety of fieldwork locations are within a 40 minute drive from Medina Valley Centre; some are within walking distance

The new internal assessment for examination in 2019 is:

  • Compulsory for both SL and HL
  • 20% of overall HL Geography mark, 25% for SL
  • Total of 25 marks
  • 2,500 words in length
  • Focus is on a local study with primary data collected by the student

There are fieldwork investigations related to the following Options:


Please contact Keith Marston, the Head of Field Studies, to discuss the content of a programme