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Independent Learning Centre

Course Information

All Grade 12 courses

Earth and Space Science - SES4U

ILC Course Code: SES4U-B

Grade 12, University Preparation, 1.0 credit

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Q: Is there a prerequisite for this course?

Prerequisite: Science, Grade 10, Academic

Q: What is the course description?

The course takes a holistic view by combining ideas from biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics to show how science has solved some of the most important questions about our existence. As well, online virtual labs and simulators allow you to model geological processes and practice identifying rocks and minerals.

There is no big project required for this course. Every lesson concludes with a set of Key Questions that relate to the content of that lesson. You submit your answers to these for evaluation at the end of each unit.  You have many chances for self-assessment throughout each lesson. Support Questions (with answers) allow you to reinforce and extend the knowledge you’ve gained and practice new skills.

Q: What is the name of this course?

SES4U-B, Earth and Space Science, Grade 12, University Preparation

Q: What am I going to learn in this course?

This course develops your understanding of Earth and its place in the universe. You will investigate the properties of and forces in the universe and solar system and analyse techniques scientists use to generate knowledge about them. You will closely examine the materials of Earth, its internal and surficial processes, and its geological history, and will learn how Earth’s systems interact and how they have changed over time. Throughout the course, you will learn how these forces, processes, and materials affect your daily life. The course draws on biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics in its consideration of geological and astronomical processes that can be observed directly or inferred from other evidence.

If you would like to learn more about each of the four units of this course then read these unit descriptions. Otherwise, return to the FAQs to find out the answers to other questions that you might have.


Unit Descriptions

There is no big project required for this course. Every lesson concludes with a set of Key Questions that relate to the content of that lesson. You submit your answers to these for evaluation at the end of each unit.  You have many chances for self-assessment throughout each lesson. Support Questions (with answers) allow you to reinforce and extend the knowledge you’ve gained and practice new skills.

Unit One: Astronomy   

This unit covers the science behind astronomy, including its tools of measurement and analysis. You will learn about the history of the universe from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago to the projected death of our sun billions of years from now.

Unit Two: Planetary Science      

Your focus here is on the solar system. You will learn about the sun, the planets, and the major moons including where they came from, what they are made of, and their chances of supporting life.

Unit Three: Recording Earth’s Geological History

You will study the geological time scale and the main events that occurred over the earth’s 4 billion year old life including the major mass extinction events. You will learn how to determine the age of rocks and fossils and analyse how fossils are made.

Unit Four: Geological Processes

This unit focuses on plate tectonics, geological processes, and human activity. You will investigate the cause of earthquakes and volcanoes and witness their destructive power. You will also learn how to locate earthquakes and measure their impact.

Unit Five: Earth Materials           

In this last unit, you will learn about rocks and minerals including how they are formed and their properties and uses. You will learn how to identify different rocks and minerals based on their physical and chemical characteristics. Finally, you will investigate the environmental and economic issues surrounding exploration and extraction of minerals and fossil fuels in Canada.


Q: What resources do I need?

You do not need any specialized equipment beyond a calculator. There are some activities that you can try at home using simple household items such as tape, scissors, a balloon, and a marking pen. If you are unable to perform these, sample data is available to help you answer the questions.

A scanner or a digital camera will be needed for capturing images of your work for submission. Microsoft WORD will be needed for typing out your answers. If you don’t have WORD you should be able to download a trial version for students from the Microsoft website.

Q: What makes the Independent Learning Centre the right choice for taking an online course?

The ILC is the Ontario Ministry of Education's designated distance education provider.

As an Ontario online high school student, you will earn Ontario high school credits and the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, if you choose. You should know that the ILC offers everything that is available at private, for-profit online high schools. As the ILC is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Education, courses are far less expensive than at private online schools, and are offered in both English and French.

Tens of thousands of students take courses each year with the ILC. You should too!

Q: What do I have to do to pass this course?

You will do an assignment at the end of every lesson. At the end of a unit, you will submit all the assignments for the unit. These assignments make up your term work, which is worth 70% of your final mark. When you have completed the 20 lessons that make up the course, then you must write the final exam and pass it. The final exam is worth 30% of your final mark. You have two chances to pass it.

Q: Who will mark my work?

A qualified Ontario teacher will mark your work. The teacher will provide a number grade and feedback on your work to help you improve. Usually within four or five business days of submitting your work, you will receive the feedback and the mark for your assignment. Once you receive the feedback, you can go on to the next assignment.

Q: How do I submit my work?

When you need to complete an assignment in words, you will create a Microsoft® Word or OpenOffice™ file and upload it. When you need to create a graph on paper, scan it if you can, or simply take a digital picture and copy and paste into your Word file. Then click Send for Evaluation.

Q: What do I need to know about the final exam?

The final exam is two hours long. It is worth 30% of your final mark. Unlike the rest of the course, the exam is not online. It is written in person using pen and paper. When you have finished your course and submitted all your assignments for marking, the ILC will contact you to make the arrangements to write your final exam. You will need to bring photo ID with you.

Q: How do I get help?

If you run into difficulty, you can get help from an ILC teacher in one of the following ways:

  • email the ILC at teacher@tvo.org
  • call the ILC Student Help Line at 416.484.2673 or 1.800.736.6187
  • fax your questions to 416.484.2754

Please ensure that your request for help includes:

  • your name and ILC student number
  • the course code, unit, and Assessment or Key Question number
  • a brief explanation of how ILC can help
  • if leaving a message, your telephone number (including area code) and the best time to reach you during the day

Q: Do I have to do the units in order?

Yes. You will do much better if you complete the course in order because the lessons build on one another.

Q: Do I have to submit my assignments or finish the course by a certain date?

You may work at your own pace. From the date you enroll, you have 10 months to finish the course.

Q: How does my final mark get onto my transcript?

When you finish the course, we mail you a completion certificate. Students must complete the Education Document Request form if they wish to receive a transcript. The first two copies of the transcript are free, and each additional copy costs $10. The ILC does not prepare transcripts for students currently enrolled in Ontario high schools as their home schools will update their transcripts.

Q: How much does it cost to take this course?

There is a non-refundable administration fee of $40 per course for Ontario students (except those currently registered in a public or private high school) and $500 for non-Ontario students. Payment can be made through the ILC online payment.

Q: How do I get started?

Download the registration form or information package. Send the registration form, any additional required documents, and your payment to the ILC. The ILC will send you a login and password. Log in and begin Lesson 1!

Q: I am a special-needs student. How will my needs be met?

One of the great things about online learning is that you can learn entirely at your own pace, going over ideas and skills as many times as you need to. This means you won't feel rushed.

In addition, the ILC accommodates special-needs students in the following ways:

  • giving students extra time to write the tests
  • allowing the use of certain learning tools, like calculators and computers (ILC exam centre only) on tests
  • administering tests individually or in small groups
  • providing for the use of scribes for tests

If you require accommodation to complete your course, submit the necessary documentation along with your Registration Form. All requests will be considered, although we may not be able to satisfy every request. If you have further questions, please contact our guidance counsellor by calling the Student Enquiry Line or emailing ilc@tvo.org.

This is the English version of the course.

This course is not currently available in French. Please check back often for new course releases.