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 study core topics in both areas of Physical and Human Geography. Core Physical Geography comprises three sub-topics: hydrology and fluvial geomorphology, atmosphere and weather, and rocks and weathering. Core Human Geography also comprises three sub-topics: 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. Each paper comprises four topics from which you will be assessed on two. At MPW, in Advanced Physical Geography we study hazardous environments and coastal environments. In Advanced Human Geography we study environmental management and global interdependence.

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. A Level Geography is an essay-based subject and to perform well, students must be able to write fluently and articulately, and demonstrate skills in evaluation and analysis. They will also be required to 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.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

A grade B or above at GCSE Geography is desirable. As the subject is essay-based, a grade B or above in GCSE English is also preferred. You should also have an interest in a broad range of geographical issues.

How is the course assessed?

AS level (worth 50% of the A Level)

For the AS, there are two papers: Paper 1 (Core Physical Geography) and Paper 2 (Core Human Geography). These have the same format. In Section A, students have three compulsory data response questions worth 10 marks each. In Section B, students choose one structured question from a choice of three. The question is worth thirty marks, including a 15-mark essay. Each paper lasts 1 hour 30 minutes and is worth 50% of the AS level (25% of the A Level). As we follow the CIE specification, students are assessed externally at the end of their AS year.

A2 level (worth 50% of the A Level)

For the A2, there are two papers: Paper 3 (Advanced Physical Geography) and Paper 4 (Advanced Human Geography). These 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 data response question worth 10 marks, and one 20-mark essay (from a choice of two). Each paper lasts 1 hour 30 minutes and is worth 50% of the A2 Level (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: CIE AS 9389, A level: CIE A level 9389

Elizabeth Ryan
Head of Department


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Royal Veterinary College (Veterinary Medicine)

"I have loved MPW. The class sizes are very small and it is easy to ask questions. The teaching is really interactive and they all care so much about the students. My Director of Studies helped a lot with my UCAS statement, suggesting what to include and perfecting it with me. I honestly don’t think I would have go any university offers without her help."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Law)

"I’ve had three fantastic years at MPW: I’ve had a happy time; I’ve met some amazing people; and, most importantly, I’ve left school knowing that I have fulfilled my potential, leaving with GCSE and A Level grades that I can be proud of. I feel that the teachers and Directors of Studies all care deeply about their students' futures and performance."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (History and Politics)

"All of my teachers have been great; they are experienced, friendly and treat us all like adults rather than teenagers. I’ve also enjoyed being in a city. There is so much to do and we’ve been on a lot of theatre trips after school which is something I hadn’t been able to do before. My favourite thing about MPW has been the people I have met."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King's College London (Biology)

"I would like to say a big thank you to my teachers. Everyone at MPW has been so warm towards me and my teachers are so friendly and willing. They also adapt to learning styles and have been sensitive about responding to my needs; they provide extra help when I need it but also give me space to absorb new topics or information when I need that."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bath (Mechanical Engineering)

"One of my favourite things about MPW is the people I have met, who are all really nice and really fun to be with. My Director of Studies was really enthusiastic which rubbed off on me. She also helped enormously with UCAS, taking the time to clearly explain what I needed to do and supporting me."