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 issues others of their kind raise, 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 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 extensive fieldwork experience, including a residential field course. This not only helps with the understanding of many of the concepts covered in the classroom but also provides training for the fieldwork investigation component of the specification.

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 are two papers. Paper 1 (Core Physical Geography) and Paper 2 (Core Human Geography) have the same format. In Section A, students have three data response questions. In Section B, students choose one structured question from a choice of three. Each paper lasts 1 hour 30 minutes and is worth 50% of the AS level.

A level

For the A level, students combine the AS papers with two further papers. Paper 3 (Advanced Physical Geography) and Paper 4 (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

Paul Turner
Head of Department