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With the current changes in global climate, rising sea levels, and warming oceans, it is important for students to discover the state of Earth’s systems and the consequences of human activities. AP Environmental Science provides students with a global view of their world and their role in it. It examines the scientific principles and concepts required to understand the interrelationships between ocean, land, and atmosphere that guide the natural world and allow Earth to be a planet suitable for life. Laboratory activities within the course support their learning of these relationships through reflective, hands-on, or virtual experiences. In addition, students identify and analyze environmental problems that are natural and human-made, determining their own ecological footprint in the world to discover how their activities affect the world around them. They evaluate the relative risks associated with environmental problems and examine alternative solutions, such as clean energy, sustainable practices, and conservation, for resolving or preventing future environmental problems.


Note: content varies depending on the course version. For currently enrolled students, please refer to the syllabus located in the course information area for curriculum specifics.

Course Requirements

AP Course & Exam Registration Requirements

College Board requires students to register for AP exams no later than November 13th (individual schools may set earlier deadlines).

All VLACS AP students are required to enroll in the “course only” section in My AP.  Instructions for joining My AP will be posted on each VLACS course page and instructors are available to help with this process.

Students who plan to take the corresponding AP exam must arrange to take the exam at a local school that administers it. To register for an AP Exam, the local school will enroll the student in an “exam only” section in My AP.  Students should follow these steps:

  • Search for a local test site through this resource of contact AP Services for Students at 888-225-5427 [email protected] That office can give you contact information for local AP coordinators who may be willing to test outside students. Students are then responsible for contacting coordinators on that list to see if one can arrange to test for you. You should do this no later than October 2nd. Note that schools may have their own local deadlines for receiving requests from outside students to test at their school so we recommend doing this as soon as possible
  • The AP coordinator who agrees to assist you must provide a join code for an “exam only” section in My AP. You’ll use the join code to join the section so that the AP coordinator can order your exam.

Please note that, if a school allows a student to register after the 11/13 deadline, there will be a $40 late exam fee. There will also be a $40 canceled/unused exam fee if a student registers and then cancels his/her exam or if the student does not show up on test day.

More information is available on the College Board’s website:

Major Topics and Concepts

Segment 1:

Module 1Ecosystems

  • 01.00 Ecosystems Checklist
  • 01.01 Introduction to Ecosystems
  • 01.02 Biomes
  • 01.03 Cycles
  • 01.04 Primary Productivity
  • 01.05 Trophic Levels and Energy Flow
  • 01.06 Food Chains and Food Webs
  • 01.07 Ecosystems Discussion-Based Assessment
  • 01.08 Ecosystems Module Exam

Module 2Biodiversity and Populations

  • 02.00 Biodiversity and Populations Checklist
  • 02.01 Biodiversity
  • 02.02 Ecological Relationships
  • 02.03 Natural Disruptions
  • 02.04 Adaptation and Succession
  • 02.05 Population Species
  • 02.06 Population Growth
  • 02.07 Demographics
  • 02.08 Human Population
  • 02.09 Biodiversity and Populations Discussion-Based Assessment
  • 02.10 Biodiversity and Populations Module Exam

Module 3Earth Systems

  • 03.00 Earth Systems Checklist
  • 03.01 Plate Tectonics
  • 03.02 Soil and Watersheds
  • 03.03 Atmosphere and Wind
  • 03.04 Solar Radiation and Seasons
  • 03.05 Weather and Climate
  • 03.06 Earth Systems Discussion-Based Assessment
  • 03.07 Earth Systems Module Exam

Module 4Natural Resources

  • 04.00 Natural Resources Checklist
  • 04.01 Tragedy of the Commons
  • 04.02 Agricultural Practices
  • 04.03 Food Production
  • 04.04 Mining and Urbanization
  • 04.05 Ecological Footprints
  • 04.06 Sustainability
  • 04.07 Pest Management
  • 04.08 Natural Resources Discussion-Based Assessment
  • 04.09 Natural Resources Module Exam
  • 04.10 Segment One Exam

Segment 2:

Module 5Energy Resources

  • 05.00 Energy Resources Checklist
  • 05.01 Energy Sources
  • 05.02 Fossil Fuels
  • 05.03 Nuclear Energy
  • 05.04 Renewable Energy Resources I
  • 05.05 Renewable Energy Resources II
  • 05.06 Energy Conservation
  • 05.07 Energy Resources Discussion-Based Assessment
  • 05.08 Energy Resources Module Exam

Module 6Air Pollution

  • 06.00 Air Pollution Checklist
  • 06.01 Introduction to Air Pollution
  • 06.02 Smog
  • 06.03 Air Pollutants
  • 06.04 Acid Deposition
  • 06.05 Noise Pollution
  • 06.06 Air Pollution Discussion-Based Assessment
  • 06.07 Air Pollution Module Exam

Module 7Water and Land Pollution

  • 07.00 Water and Land Pollution Checklist
  • 07.01 Effects of Pollutants
  • 07.02 Impact on Aquatic Ecosystems
  • 07.03 Solid Waste
  • 07.04 Sewage Treatment
  • 07.05 Lethal Dose Response
  • 07.06 Human Health and Diseases
  • 07.07 Water and Land Pollution Discussion-Based Assessment
  • 07.08 Water and Land Pollution Module Exam

Module 8Global Change

  • 08.00 Global Change Checklist
  • 08.01 Ozone Depletion
  • 08.02 Greenhouse Effect
  • 08.03 Global Climate Change
  • 08.04 Effects on Oceans
  • 08.05 Threats to Biodiversity
  • 08.06 Global Change Discussion-Based Assessment
  • 08.07 Global Change Module Exam
  • 08.08 AP Exam Prep
  • 08.09 Segment Two Exam

Credits 1.5


  • Ecosystems
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of ecosystems by explaining and analyzing how organisms interact within their environment with both biotic and abiotic factors and how they depend on resources that cycle through the ecosystem.
  • Biodiversity & Populations
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of biodiversity and populations by describing the roles that ecosystems play in sustainability and comparing trends and patterns of data over time.
  • Earth Systems
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of energy transfer and the interactions between earth systems by analyzing geological changes through global temperatures and wind patterns.
  • Natural Resources
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of how natural resources are affected by human activities by analyzing agricultural practices, overfishing and mining while explaining ways to mitigate the negative effects of human activities.
  • Energy Resources
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of how energy resources emerge naturally by explaining how these resources occur, differentiating between renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, and discussing the impacts of both on the environment.
  • Air Pollution
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of air pollution by explaining how human activity creates air pollution while identifying the negative impacts to human health.
  • Water & Land Pollution
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of how water and land pollution impact the global ecosystem by describing the interactions between ecosystem health and waste.
  • Global Changes
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of global change by analyzing the effects of increasing temperatures and decreasing pH on ocean health and marine biodiversity as well as the negative shift in terrestrial ecosystems due to climate change.


Algebra 1 and two-years of high-school Science, with labs

Per College Board policy, students must be in high school to enroll in AP courses

Attend a virtual open house

We offer regular online open house webinars where VLACS staff members provide parents and students with an overview of our programs and answer questions about online learning.