Geography

Geography is a dynamic subject. At HMSG we aim to make our classes thought-provoking and fun in order to inspire and develop girls’ understanding of the world around them. We encourage pupils to ask questions about current affairs and think about how important their lives are on a local, national and global scale.  Enquiry is at the very heart of the subject and this is demonstrated by the extensive fieldwork programme offered to all year groups. Lessons include role-play, ICT, map skills and atlas work and the subject is a popular subject at GCSE and A Level. The Department also organises trips to Iceland and Morocco.

Years 7-9

We believe that geography taught in Years 7-9 should inspire our pupils to learn more about the world in which they live.  Geography can deliver vital life skills enabling pupils to make concise reports, handle and analyse data, make decisions about issues and think creatively.

We aim to develop the girls’ geographical skills, literacy, numeracy, ICT and independent learning skills.  The department uses a variety of teaching strategies and techniques that gives all girls the opportunity to study geography with enjoyment and a sense of achievement.

Through Years 7-9 we also help to develop pupil awareness of citizenship through the study of moral, economic and environmental issues.

Overview of teaching topics: 

Year 7

The focus of Year 7 is to provide a broad introduction to the subject of geography.

Year 7 explore the following topics:

  • Introduction to geography
  • Exploring Britain – human and physical geography
  • Making and mapping connections – map skills
  • Changing the way we shop – the influence of out-of-town shopping centres and internet shopping
  • Coping with floods and settlement – how settlements grow and change.
  • The destination of the Year 7 field trip is Cardiff Bay where pupils explore the regeneration of the dockland area.

Year 8

The focus of Year 8 is to further develop pupils’ geographical skills and to explore important global issues, such as climate change, energy use and deforestation of tropical rainforests.

Year 8 explore the following topics:

  • Oi Brazil! – an exploration of life in 21st century Brazil
  • Tropical rainforest ecosystems and the threats they face
  • Natural hazards and energy – a key resource, climate change, sustainable living and weather and climate
  • The current destination of the Year 8 field trip is Southerndown Beach and Barry Island area where pupils investigate coastal processes, landforms and management issues.

 Year 9

The focus of Year 9 is one of global issues and processes.  Pupils explore poverty and third world debt, globalisation and the influence of global companies, sustainable tourism and China’s growing influence.

Year 9 explore the following topics:  

  • Poverty and development through an investigation of Ghana
  • Cadbury – a multinational company
  • Fair-trade, global fashion and child labour
  • China – a 21st century superpower
  • Antarctica – the last great wilderness

Individual fieldwork projects

Years 7-9 produce an individual fieldwork project linked to their field trip activities.  This gives pupils some independence and control over their learning and the means to develop important academic skills.

GCSE

Since September 2009 we have taught the OCR B Geography GCSE. This is an exciting course, presenting a ‘modern’ approach to the subject.  A range of human and physical topics are investigated over two years.  Pupils study four periods of geography each week and are allocated a textbook written specifically for the course.

Why choose geography?

Geography tackles the big issues of today. The world in which we live is expected to witness great change over the next 50 years due to important geographically related issues, such as climate change, changing global markets and rapid urbanisation. Studying geography helps explain these changes and it will help you prepare you for the changes that will affect your life.  GCSE geography bridges the gap between the humanities and sciences; it therefore has links with many subjects, including biology, chemistry, history and mathematics.

So what will studying geography give you?

Geography offers you opportunities to develop a wide range of essential life skills: spatial awareness – map skills, enquiry skills – asking questions and finding answers, data collection, presentation and analysis skills and also communication, ICT and report writing skills. Geography also encourages problem solving and decision-making. In a competitive world this broad range of skills is essential.

How is the course structured?

The course addresses current global issues and topics; there is a focus on the environment and how societies around the world should be using the Earth’s resources and environments in a sustainable way.

The two-year course is based on four themes: Rivers and Coasts; Population and Settlement; Natural Hazards and Economic Development.

How is the course assessed? (Separate drop-down?)

Examination

Duration

Weighting

Unit B561: Sustainable Decision Making

One hour and 30 minutes exam

25%

 

Unit B562: Geographical Enquiry

Controlled assessment – report linked to field work

25%

 

Unit B563: Key Geographical Themes

One hour and 45 minutes exam 

50%

 What is the Sustainable Decision Making Exercise (SDME)?

This element of the course gives you the opportunity to develop decision-making skills.  The exam topic is presented as a booklet of resources which is used during the examination.

What does the Geographical Enquiry involve?

This unit is entitled Fieldwork Focus and requires pupils to produce a 2,000 word report. Pupils use fieldwork data they have collated to complete this work in lesson time.

What Fieldwork opportunities are there?

Fieldwork is a very important aspect of the course and pupils are offered a full range of fieldwork activities.  In Year 10 pupils explore Newport as an urban case study, and in Year 11 there is a residential field trip to Slapton Ley Field Studies Council Centre, South Devon, to explore rivers, coasts and tourism, and to collect data for the geographical enquiry.

For further information about the OCR B specification see: www.ocr.org.uk

AS and A Level

A level

Board: Edexcel

Why study Geography?

There has never been a better or more important time to study geography.  With growing interest in issues such as climate change, migration, environmental degradation and social cohesion, geography is one of the most relevant courses you could choose to study. Geographers are also highly employable.  The subject enhances communication skills, literacy and numeracy, ICT skills, spatial awareness, team working, problem solving and environmental awareness.  Whatever your passion for the world – fascination with landscapes or concerns about inequality – geography will provide you with knowledge and transferable skills that will reward you personally and advance you professionally.

What will I learn?

At AS level, you will study global themes, including globalisation and climate change.  You will discover how your own actions can relate to the wider world, be it your local area or a country far away.  You will study two units:

Unit 1: Global Challenges ― In this unit you will study a range of topics such as global hazards, climate change, globalisation, global connections and managing change in megacities.

Unit 2: Geographical Investigations ― This gives you an opportunity to undertake geographical research, including fieldwork.  You will investigate two topics in depth: crowded coasts (physical geography), and rebranding urban and rural places (human geography).

At A2 level, you will also study two units:

Unit 3: Contested Planet ― In this unit you will consider five key world issues and in the sixth topic discuss possible technological solutions to the problems identified:

–  Energy Security

–  Water Conflicts

–  Biodiversity Under Threat

–  Superpower Geographies

–  Bridging the Development Gap

–  The Technological Fix?

Unit 4: Geographical Research ― This unit will allow you to further develop the investigative skills gained at AS level and prepare you for the demands of higher education or employment.  You will choose one topic from these six options:

–  Tectonic Activity and Hazards

–  Cold Environments   

–  Life on the Margins: the food supply problem

–  Pollution and Human Health at Risk

–  Consuming the Rural Landscape

–  The World of Cultural Diversity

How will I be assessed? (Separate drop-down)

AS Unit 1: Global Challenges6GEO1

One hour and 30 minutes written examination, including a colour resource booklet.

AS Unit 2: Geographical Investigations 6GEO2

One hour written examination, including a colour resource booklet.  You will be asked about your fieldwork skills in this examination.

Unit 1: Global Challenges

Unit 2: Geographical Investigations 

1.5 hour exam

30% of the A Level

1 hour and 15 minutes exam

20% of the A Level

 

A2 Unit 3: Contested Planet 6GEO3

Two hours and 30 minutes written examination, including pre-released resources (four weeks in advance) and a colour resource booklet in the exam.  Part 1 of the examination will cover five of the six Unit 3 topics; Part 2 will cover the sixth topic in a synoptic context (i.e. pulling together aspects of the other five topics).

A2 Unit 4: Geographical Research 6GEO4

One hour and 30 minutes examination, including a pre-released ‘research focus’ (four weeks in advance). You will be asked to answer one question on the option of your choice.

Unit 3: Contested Planet

Unit 4: Geographical Research 

2 ½ hour exam

30% of the A Level

1 ½ hour exam

20% of the A Level

 

Fieldwork

AS Unit 2: Geographical Investigations offers the opportunity to undertake a range of interesting and relevant fieldwork activities. Students currently participate in a four day residential fieldwork programme at the Nettlecombe Court Field Studies Council Centre in North Somerset.

The Geography Department is a member of the Geographical Association and Royal Geographical Society this entitles students to attend associated events and lectures.

Beyond HMSG

An A level in geography opens doors. You will find that studying geography is a brilliant step towards a wider range of university courses and/or employment opportunities.

Further education

Geographers can go on to study a wide variety of higher level courses at university ranging from earth and environmental sciences to oceanography and global change: environment, economy and development.

Employment

Geographers have access to a wide range of careers, including:

Advertising

Environmental management

Law    

Planning/government     

Education

Finance

Retailing/Marketing

Social/health services

For further advice concerning studying geography at university and information on the careers into which geography can take you, visit: www.rgs.org


Y11 at Slapton 2016;  Eithne’s film of the Y11 Geography field trip.

In October 2016 GCSE geographers from HMSG went on a field trip to Start Bay and Slapton Sands in Devon. Y11 filmmaker Eithne captured the highlights of the trip in this film.