Curriculum Leader

Mr J Tucker

Awarding Body

AQA Course Specification

Entry Requirements

Students will be required to have achieved a minimum of a grade 5 in either English Literature or English Language and a grade 5 in Geography. For students completing early entry GCSE geography the geography grade should be a minimum of a B.

Why choose Geography?

How often do we stop and look at what we are passing by and question how it was created? How often do we think about the legacy and impact of our actions on others?

Geography at A-Level provides an opportunity for you to consider your constant involvement and interaction with the world and its people. Studying contemporary hazards, population change, globalisation and coastal processes amongst others, you will develop a deeper understanding of your inter-connectedness with both the natural and human environments.

Both human and physical geography topics are delivered by a team of subject specialists. By choosing geography you will gain a wide range of skills including map, numerical, communication, problem solving, research and report writing skills. These skills will be useful in higher education and your chosen career.

Geography at McAuley in 2017 offered students the opportunity to take part in two residential fieldtrips, one to gather fieldwork skills and data in North Yorkshire and to look at the geographical landscapes created by tectonic processes in Iceland. The subject also took students to Sheffield University to take part in master classes related to the specification and we have recently attended a lecture by Tim Marshall author of ‘Prisoners of Geography’ to explore cutting edge ideas on geopolitics.

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What will I learn in A-Level Geography and how will it be assessed?

Course Overview

The course will be delivered over two years and exams will be completed at the end of Y13. An independent geographical investigation will also be submitted at the end of Y13. There will be two exams, with content divided into physical and human geography exam papers. Both will have equal weighting. Throughout the course geographical skills will be studied and these will be incorporated into both exams and the geographical investigation. What will I learn in Year 12 Geography and how will it be assessed?

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What will I learn in Year 12 Geography and how will it be assessed?

In Y12 you will complete a mixture of human and physical geographical topics to prepare you for the external exam at the end of Y13. You will also undertake geographical fieldwork to support your independent geographical investigation. Throughout your learning in Y12 you will look at the core geographical skills that are identified in the specification and tested in your examinations. Assessment will be regular throughout the course and will be ‘stepped’ in nature – each assessment building on the last and covering content learnt across the whole year up to the point of the assessment. Towards the end of the year you will complete a mock examination.

Physical Geography:
Coastal Landscapes – focusing on coastal systems, processes, landforms created and issues for future sustainable management.
Hazards – focusing on volcanic and seismic activity and their management. Storm hazards will also be explored.

Human Geography:
Changing Places – focusing on the character of places and the communities that live there. This will also look at how identities (national, regional etc…) are formed and maintained.
Population and the Environment – focusing on natural population growth and the impacts of migration on the population structures of different countries.

Fieldwork and Geographical Skills:
You will develop your ability to formulate hypotheses, data collection methods, presentation, analysis and evaluation. You will also interpret maps and graphs and complete statistical analysis on geographical data.

This is a new specification subject. The school’s policy is that students enrolling onto new specification courses will not be entered for external AS examinations at the end of Year 12. Please visit the FAQs for more information on new specifications, their UCAS tariff points and the ‘decoupling’ of AS/A2 grades.

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What will I learn in Year 13 Geography and how will it be assessed?

In Y13 you will complete the remaining human and physical topics that constitute the A-Level. You will also complete your NEA (non-examined assessment) based on the fieldwork you have collected. You will also further develop your use of a wide range of geographical skills as per the specification. Assessment will build upon Y12 and will again be ‘stepped’ so that Y12 work is regularly assessed throughout Y13. At the end of Y13 external assessments will be completed and further detail can be found below.

Physical Geography:
Water and Carbon Cycles - focusing on case studies of a rainforest and river basin.

Human Geography:
Global systems and global governance – focusing on the rapid globalisation of the world and the impacts this has had. We will look at this through changes to trade relationships and the growth and impact of large political organisations like the UN and EU.

Fieldwork and Geographical Skills:
You will complete the write-up for your geographical investigation, conducting further fieldwork where necessary. You will also complete learning the range of geographical skills.

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How are you assessed in external examinations?

Component 1: Physical Geography

This paper will examine:
Water and Carbon Cycles
Coastal Landscapes

Assessment: 2hr 30 minutes written examination in June 2019. Question format will include multiple choice, short answers, longer levelled answers and essays.

Weighting: 40% of the A-Level.

Component 2: Human Geography

This paper will examine:
Global Systems and Global Governance
Changing Places
Population and the Environment

Assessment: 2 hr 30 minutes written examination in June 2019. Question format will include multiple choice, short answers, longer levelled answers and essays.

Weighting: 40% of the A-Level.

Component 3: Non-Examined Assessment

You will be required to complete a geographical investigation that will be based around fieldwork you have collected. This will be an independent research task where you will develop your own research question, data collection techniques and analysis of information. Your teachers will advise you on suitable approaches to your investigations.

Assessment: Completed report of 3,000 – 4,000 words. This will be marked by your teachers and moderated by the exam board.

Weighting: 20% of the A-Level

Geographical Skills

Throughout all three components you will be asked to complete, interpret and analyse information using a range of geographical skills you will develop on the course. These will be examined in all three components.
The skills you will develop are broken down into 4 key areas:

  • Cartographic Skills – completing/interpreting information from/on maps.
  • Graphical Skills – drawing, selecting and analysing different types of graph.
  • Statistical Skills – testing data to identify how significant and reliable it is.
  • Use of ICT – using GIS (Geographical Information Systems) to analyse patterns in data, maps etc…

This is a ‘new specification’ subject. The overall result for each student completing this course to full A level standard will be based on the final Year 13 A level examinations only. Please visit the FAQs for more information on new specifications, their UCAS tariff points and their ‘decoupling’ of AS/A2 grades.

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How will I learn?

You will learn through a wide variety of methods:

  • Independent reading around the topics covered
  • Research – particularly through case studies
  • Work independently on written tasks
  • Discuss your work in pairs and groups
  • Practice exam style questions
  • Revision sessions
  • Visiting Speakers
  • Attending master classes run by universities
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There are many degrees that geography at A Level would complement. These include Geography, Environmental Science, Natural Science, Geology, Town Planning, Architecture, Sociology and Cultural Studies.

This is a useful subject to complement other A Level subjects, in particular, Economics, Science, Sociology, and History.

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Geography graduates have long had amongst the highest rates of employability. This is due to the wide ranging skills you learn during study, including essay and report writing, analysis, data collection, statistical and numerical data manipulation and mapping. As a result geographers are employed in a wide range of areas.

Directly related careers include: Geology, Town and Transport Planning, Meteorology, Chartered Surveying, Land and Water Management, Environmental Consultancy, Development Officer, Teaching, Tourism, Conservation and Housing and Social Welfare.

Indirectly related careers that high numbers of geography graduates pursue include: Politics, Civil Service, Law, Accountancy, Finance, Marketing and Research.

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Further Course Information

There will be a compulsory residential fieldtrip and a government required minimum number of days of fieldwork that all A-Level students must complete. Fieldwork is essential to complete your independent geographical investigation. This will include fieldwork in both physical and human environments.

Home learning is set regularly and assessment is a strong feature of the course.

Geography is a very contemporary subject and much of what we talk about can be read about in the newspapers or seen on television on a daily basis. A strong interest in current affairs will increase your success in lessons and in formal examinations.

Visit our departmental twitter page to see how we are developing student awareness of contemporary geographical issues and news to gain a further flavour of our ethos and approach at KS5. 

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