Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you really think that Biology, Chemistry, or Physics are the right science classes for you? If you don’t, you may be in luck; AISB is offering two more DP science courses next year.

The first new class is Design Technology, which focuses on developing practical skills, creative thinking, and critical thinking in the science of technology and innovation. The other new course on offer is Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS). This class focuses on the connection between the scientific and humanitarian aspects of global environmental issues.

Design Technology

Design Technology focuses on the science behind both technology and innovative design. This course includes large aspects of analysis, design development, synthesis, and evaluation, through both theory and practice. In addition, this course is in large proportion based on the design cycle.

The IB states that: “The aim of the DP design technology course is to foster the skill development in students required to use new and existing technologies to create new products, services, and systems.”

Design Science is an application of biology, physics, and chemistry to design physical products. Jennifer Jones, a high-school science teacher at AISB says: “For example, to design a chair you might need biology to understand ergonomics of the human spine and proportions, chemistry to understand properties of materials to be used and Physics to calculate forces the chair has to withstand.”


Design Technology is a very suitable course for students who are interested in applying science to make physical designs. This class is very practical and will be very helpful to apply to future jobs in design. This class would also be a very good combination with Physics if you are interested in engineering.


This is not an easy science option, and you need to be prepared to do every type of science as well as design and technology. If this is the only science you choose, you must check carefully for the course that you are interested in doing in University: for example, the course may require a traditional science (Biology, Chemistry, and Physics), as this Design Technology is not as recognised.

Design Technology will be offered at both Standard Level (SL) and Higher Level (HL), DP. Both SL and HL have a common core with similar units studied and similar assessments studied, except extra content studied in HL.

Common core units:

  • Human factors and ergonomics
  • Resource management and sustainable production
  • Modelling
  • Raw material to final product
  • Innovation and design
  • Classic design

HL extension topics:

  • User-centred design (UCD)
  • Sustainability
  • Innovation and markets
  • Commercial Production

Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS)

Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) is an interdisciplinary DP course which combines both Biology and Geography to look into evaluating the scientific, ethical, and socio-political aspects of various global issues. This course aims to build an understanding of international perspective, awareness of local and global environmental concerns, and an understanding of scientific methods. An important portion of this course includes kinaesthetic work in the field and lab. This class does not require any prior knowledge of Geography or Biology but would help students to be more successful.

Peter Stanley, Biology and ESS teacher at AISB, believes that the introduction of ESS will benefit students in many ways. He states that: “This [ESS] is a great opportunity for our students to stretch out and create schedules that fit their personal interests.” As this course explores both science and humanities, Stanley describes it as “1/3 biology, 1/3 geography, and 1/3 of environmental science, a mix of economics and political science.”

The major difference from this DP science course to the other courses offered at AISB is the interdisciplinary aspect. ESS looks into the many different features of real-life environmental issues, and making connections between Biology, Geography, Economics, and Political Science.

“For example, when we look at climate change, this is an issue that is related to every subject depending on the lens you look at it through,” Stanley elaborates.  “In ESS we explore climate change through Biology, Geography, History, Politics and Economics. Everything is connected in an interesting way and ESS has fun exploring these links.”


ESS addresses many current and real-world issues, making students more aware of the world around them. This course is also very highly regarded for students interested in studying in Economics or Politics because it shows universities that the student is up-to-date with current events. This class can be counted as a group 3 or group 4 class or both, giving students interested in Art the chance to take more than one Arts class.


One limitation to this course is if students are interested in studying a Science in university, you should check if the university gives Science credit for Science of Humanities. This is probably not the right Science class to choose if you are interested in medicine, as universities need to see both Chemistry and Biology. Some universities don’t take as much recognition of this course.

IB only offers this class at Standard Level but Stanley believes that there is potential for this class to be offered for Higher Level, something for IB to change in the future. “There certainly could be an HL ESS class because there are many advanced paths that follow from a course like this,” Stanley says. “However, for now, the IB only offers SL.”

ESS units:

  • Foundations of environmental systems and societies
  • Ecosystems and ecology
  • Biodiversity and conservation
  • Water and aquatic food production systems and societies
  • Soil systems and terrestrial food production systems and societies
  • Atmospheric systems and societies
  • Climate change and energy production
  • Human systems and resource use

Both of the new DP Science courses, that will soon be on offer, are related to the future of this world and are a combination of multiple classes or concepts. These classes are going to be a great addition to our school learning curriculum and will give students more options for their class choices.

Related Articles:

IBDP: What are we getting ourselves into?

AISB Electives: New Classes This Year, and What’s In Store for 2018-2019