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


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Medicine)

The teachers have been amazing and have all gone over and above everything I needed. Coming to MPW is the best decision I ever made, I’m just so glad I came here. I would never have got these grades without the support of MPW and my fantastic teachers.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (Philosophy and Mathematics)

MPW felt more like a university than a school for me. I really liked having the freedom to plan my own time around the set periods of lessons and there is also a real focus on doing your work on time, being methodical and preparing well so there is no last-minute stress at the end of the year. Unlike at some schools where it can be a lottery who your teachers are, at MPW they are all first-rate. If, like me, you change your mind after school about what you want to do and need to get some new A levels there is nowhere better to cater to your needs. I would recommend MPW. It is a fantastic school. 


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (History and Innovation)

The teaching is amazing. It’s so relaxed and if there is anything you don’t understand it is easy to ask. I wanted to do a course that is not usually taken by History students at MPW (Tudor Rebellion) so they tailored a course for me and I had one-to-one tuition for that part. It’s been really good to boost my grade.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Medicine)

I chose MPW because my brother came to MPW, loved his time here and came out with really good grades. When I didn’t do so well in my AS levels I knew something had to change. I came for an admissions meeting and it felt like a good fit for me. It’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve never had an exam period before where I wasn’t stressed, panicky or not feeling prepared but at MPW they have changed that. The exam preparation that you do throughout the year has helped me so much.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Cellular and Molecular Medicine)

I retook my A levels because I had my heart set on going to Bristol and I knew that I could do better than BBB. My parents chose MPW for me because of its fantastic reputation. MPW has been so much better than I expected. The teaching is so enthusiastic, they do exactly what you want and are really focussed at the same time as being very personable and taking a genuine interest in you.