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Geography

Head of Department: Mr A Buckingham

Why choose Geography at A Level?

Geography is a respected and valuable academic discipline. It has the advantage of being accepted by universities equally as a science or arts subject, and this ‘bridge’ nature allows it to be combined successfully with any other AS or A Level subject. Students can enjoy the extremely varied content of the course and develop a wide range of skills and knowledge that will serve them well at university and in the world of work.

Here are some comments by Upper Sixth Geography students at QEGS:

  • What I’ve enjoyed about A Level Geography is applying the theory taught in lessons to events currently reported in the media
  • There are a number of trips during the A Level course. These are enjoyable and offer the opportunity to observe classroom geography occurring in real life
  • Excellent facilities
  • Geography lessons are interesting and fun, with lots of discussions
  • I’m learning interesting new skills, such as analysing data, and team work
  • Several interesting topics of great relevance to recent events, e.g. urban burglary and the study of HIV. I would recommend studying Geography at A Level ... a subject which is dynamic and interesting
  • Geography is a good choice since it complements many other subjects

What does the Geography course involve?

Students will be prepared for the AQA AS/A2 Level Specification A examination. The content is varied, up-to-date, and challenging.

The AS course comprises modules in Physical and Human Geography and Geographical Skills. Content includes important and topical matters such as causes and management of flooding; cold environments, reasons for and implications of refugee movement to the UK; health and disease; and energy supplies.

Further challenging and modern topics follow in the A2 course: these include plate tectonics theory and related hazards; climate change and hazards; management of cities in rich and poor countries; and a study of current conflicts in the world including access to resources, international boundaries, and ethnic differences.

How will I study Geography?

The material studied and the approach to it lean towards the scientific in the Physical Geography teaching, whilst the Human Geography course has a close affinity with the social sciences. Skills obtained by students include problem-solving and decision-making, data analysis, and report and essay writing.

Three experienced, specialist Geography staff teach the AS/A Level course. Much of the teaching is within the purpose-built and well-equipped Geography classrooms in the Queen’s Wing and Singleton House. Students receive up-to-date textbooks for individual use. They have access to an excellent collection of maps, DVDs and videos, magazines, fact-sheets, and modern reference books. There is a rapidly expanding bank of resources on the school computer network. Fieldwork equipment is available for students’ use. The main school Library has a large selection of Geography reference books which may be borrowed.

Lessons may include discussion, debate, role-play: methods range from traditional to experimental! Fieldwork is an important element of Geography. In the Lower Sixth there is a day visit to the Forest of Bowland, to study the River Hodder, to investigate its social, economic and Historical Geography. We also spend a day visiting the City of London and the Docklands. There is a residential course at A2 lasting six days in which field research techniques are learnt. The U6th fieldwork is conducted in Majorca. The visit provides the basis for a fieldwork report, and questions about the report will be answered under examination conditions in summer 2011. There is also likely to be visits to local sites of Geographical interest.

How will I be assessed?

The AQA specification is taught. This will involve two AS modules which will be tested in examination conditions at the end of the Lower Sixth year, and two further modules at the end of the Upper Sixth. Candidates may re-sit AS modules in January and May / June of the Upper Sixth year.

What qualifications do I need to start the Geography course?

A high grade in GCSE Geography is desirable, but the able, well-motivated student who has not attempted GCSE in the subject is welcome and should not be greatly disadvantaged. Recently one candidate who had not studied Geography at GCSE gained grade A at A Level.

With what other subjects does Geography fit?

By virtue of its ‘bridge’ nature between sciences and arts it should be possible for a student to study Geography with any subject offered in QEGS at AS and/or A2 Level.

What can I do at University with an A Level in Geography?

Universities accept Geography as either a science or an arts subject. Students who have studied A Level Geography at QEGS have gone on to study a wide range of subjects at university including medicine, law, sports science, modern languages, aeronautical engineering, landscape architecture, economics, business management ... and many have chosen to take a degree in Geography!

How will A Level Geography help me in my future life and career?

Geography students with good A Level or higher qualifications are found in a wide variety of careers. The breadth of skills and knowledge possessed by a Geographer is a positive advantage. David Rhind, Chief Executive of the Ordnance Survey, said, ‘Employers rarely need narrow specialists. They need bright, committed, inquisitive, and determined individuals with the ability to draw on what is happening elsewhere in the world. The best geographers are stars in this respect’.

Finance (e.g. banking, accounting, and insurance) is a popular career destination, with substantial numbers entering town and country planning, surveying, estate management, central and local government, civil engineering, leisure and tourism, and education. Major areas of global concern such as economic development and environmental engineering will undoubtedly provide more and more career openings for well-qualified Geographers.

Geographers make Good Citizens!

Perhaps the best motivation for studying Geography is an enjoyment of the subject, and an intellectual curiosity that leads the student to seek an understanding of why places differ from each other, and why they change. Whatever the reason for choosing AS/A2 Level Geography, the student will develop valuable communication skills and become uniquely equipped to gain insights into environmental, economic, ethnic, social, political, and moral issues and to contribute to debate and decision-making in these areas. The eminent Geographer, L. Dudley Stamp, recognised that ‘Geographers make good citizens’.