Exam Board

Additional Entry Requirements

Grade 6 in GCSE geography if taken and grade 6 in GCSE English language. If not taken at GCSE, then grade 6 in a GCSE science required

Course Content

Why geography?
With growing interest in issues such as climate change, migration, environmental degradation and social cohesion, geography is one of the most relevant courses you could choose to study.You’ll develop skills in written and oral communication, research, critical thinking, evaluating resources and statistical analysis.
Many students go on to study geography at Oxbridge or Russell Group universities. A degree in geography will provide you with knowledge and transferable skills that will reward you personally and advance you professionally onto a diverse range of careers from disaster management and meteorology to environmental consultancy and town planning.
Course content
You will have the opportunity to study physical geography through topics such as tectonic process and hazards; coastal landscapes and change; the water cycle and water insecurity; and the carbon cycle and energy insecurity. You will also study human geography through topics such as globalisation; dynamic places; superpower geographies; and health, human rights and intervention. You will investigate case studies from a range of locations and at varying scales including population change in London; coastal process along the Dorset coast; water conflict along the river Nile; oil in the Niger delta; and the health and life expectancy of the aboriginal peoples in Australia.
You will undertake two days of coastal fieldwork and an additional two days of urban fieldwork. There is also the possibility of an optional international field trip. Past destinations have included China, Morocco, Thailand and Iceland.
Mark scheme
Exam - 2 hours 15 mins - 30%
105 marks - 3 sections, questions range from 4 to 20 marks
Dynamic landscapes
  • Tectonic processes & hazards
  • Coastal landscapes & change
Physical systems and sustainability
  • Water cycle & water insecurity
  • Carbon cycle & energy insecurity
Exam - 2 hours 15 mins - 30%
105 marks - 3 sections, questions range from 4 to 20 marks
Dynamic places
  • Globalisation
  • Diverse places
Human systems and geopolitics
  • Superpowers
  • Health, human rights, intervention
Exam - 2 hours 15 mins - 20%
70 marks - Questions range from 4 to 24 marks
Synoptic investigation
  • Given an unseen resource booklet containing information about a geographical issue (e.g. resource exploitation in the Congo basin), students draw on synoptic knowledge and understanding
Coursework - 20%
70 marks - 3,000–4,000 words
Independent investigation
  • Based on two days of fieldwork on either coasts or diverse places

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the headings below.

What A level subjects compliment geography?

Because geography is a broad subject and covers many skills we find it compliments humanities such as history and politics and social sciences such as Economics, but also sciences such as Biology and Chemistry.

I haven’t done geography GCSE, is that ok?

Whilst this is not ideal it is not uncommon. Each year we have a handful of students who wanted to do GCSE geography but were unable to for some reason. All we require is that you have a grade 6 or above in English language and a grade 6 in science. Every year there are always students who have not studied one of the topics at GCSE so we always assume no prior knowledge in all of our topics. However, these students do find the course particularly challenging and are expected to undertake a lot of additional reading.

Do you go on any field trips?

Yes, in Year 12 there is a trip to Seaford in East Sussex on the South coast where we investigate coastal processes and management; we also go to Southall in West London to investigate diverse places. Then at the end of Year 12 in the summer you will undertake two days of additional fieldwork to collect data for your coursework. There is also an optional trip to Iceland (run by Biology).

What careers can you do with a geography degree?

A geography degree provides students with strong research and analytical skills, which are highly regarded by employers. Also, if you want to make a difference to the world then studying geography is a good place to start. Careers include: climatologist; meteorologist; environmental consultant; cartographer, town planner; GIS officer; conservation officer; landscape architect; Civil Service; teacher/lecturer; charity/NGO sector. According to the RGS geography graduates experience relatively low levels of unemployment and have high levels of satisfaction with their degree course.

I am not sure whether to choose geography or another subject as my third subject...

Geography is always a good subject to choose because it is multidisciplinary and multi skilled. Geography is likely to compliment your other two subjects. However, we suggest that you choose the subject that interests you the most especially if you don’t have a specific career in mind.

How difficult is geography?

Students will inevitably find some parts of the course difficult. Geography requires students to be able to write critical essays, analyse resources and complete maths questions. All A levels are hard and require significant amounts of work. Your teachers can provide additional support and help outside of the lessons in weekly subject tutorials and your teachers are contactable via email and office hours.

What is a typical geography lesson like?

All lessons will be delivered via PowerPoint, and there will be a range of activities from discussion, analysis of maps and resources, exam practice, watching videos.

Is there coursework?

Yes, you have to complete a Non Examined Assessment (NEA). It is worth 20% of your final mark. You can choose a topic to investigate from the specification but most students choose to investigate issues concerning regeneration, gentrification or coastal management. Students produce a 4,000 – 6,000 word report based on data that they have collected themselves.

Is geography a facilitating subject?

Yes, the Russell Group of Universities have selected geography as one of their preferred A level subjects when applying to their degree courses.

Which university is good for studying geography?

The Guardian produces an annual university league table, St Andrews, Oxford, Durham, Cambridge and Warwick regularly taking the top spots, but you have to consider the course content, options for a year abroad, work experience, field trips, where you want to live.
The Compton School
“A level is a smooth continuation of your GCSE knowledge, but in a way that’s just so much more interesting. We are integrating the theories into everyday life and in the context of the whole globe. On one side we have historical politics and human geography, and on the other, very scientific geography – which ties in so well with my other subjects.
It’s much more independent and self motivated here and I prefer that because it allows me to do stuff at my pace. It’s also really welcoming and friendly, everyone will speak to you. I’m still making new friends in year 13.”

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