A Level Geography


What is it about at sixth-form level? 

Geography is a constantly changing discipline that reflects, describes and explains the dynamic world around us. It examines the interaction between people and the places in which they live in the context of technological change and social upheaval. Geographers have to think about social, economic and physical issues and how they conspire to shape the different environments and ecosystems on earth. They are involved in trying to think, understand and work towards the resolution of problems of global concern. Are the most socio-economically deprived societies best helped with aid or trade? Do we have a moral imperative to ensure genetic diversity or can we permit extinction and the destruction of environments if it raises our standards of living? When does tourism change from being an economic benefit to an environmental blight?

These are deep and fascinating questions. The subject will be particularly attractive to those who wish to find out more about them and similar issues, such as the development gap, the effects of globalisation on national economies, global warming and the severe risks to human activity posed by natural events.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will look at topics in two areas. In Core Physical Geography, you will focus on three topics: hydrology and fluvial geomorphology; atmosphere and weather; and rocks and weathering. In the Core Human Geography, you will look at population; migration; and settlement dynamics.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you will study advanced topics in both areas of Physical Geography and Human Geography. You will choose two topics in each area. For Physical Geography, the options are: tropical environments; coastal environments; hazardous environments; and hot arid and semi-arid environments. For Human Geography, the options are: production, location and change; environmental management; global interdependence; and economic transition.

Why study it and what Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Geography is a broad subject which asks students to see connections and explore links between social, political, economic and geographical factors. These synoptic skills will be extremely valuable across a wide range of university subjects and careers beyond. To perform well in Geography, students must be able to write fluently, manipulate numerical information and interpret maps, charts, photographs and satellite imagery. The acquisition and development of these skills is therefore a primary focus of the teaching. We provide students with fieldwork experience, which helps with the understanding of many of the concepts covered in the classroom.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

A grade B or above at (I)GCSE Geography is desirable. You should also have an interest in a broad range of geographical issues.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

For the AS, there is a single paper covering both Core Physical Geography and Core Human Geography. Students answer questions in three sections. In Section A, they must answer five out of six questions on the Physical and Human Core topics for a total of 50 marks. In each of Sections B and C, students answer one of three structured questions based on the Physical (Section B) and Human (Section C) Core topics, for a total of 25 marks in each section. The paper lasts 3 hours and is worth 100% of the AS level. Students may carry forward this result to the second year. It is worth 50% of the A level.

A level

For the A level, students combine the AS paper with two further papers. Paper 2 (Advanced Physical Geography) and Paper 3 (Advanced Human Geography) have the same format. In each paper, students will answer questions on the two optional topics they have studied. Each topic will consist of one structured question and a choice of essay questions. Each paper lasts 1 hour 30 minutes and is worth 25% of the A level.


Cambridge International A and AS Level Geography
By G. Nagel, P. Guinness
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 13: 978-1444123166


Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: Cambridge International AS 9696, A level: Cambridge International A level 9696



Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Warwick University (Chemistry)

“I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made. 


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”