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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.

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Lower sixth
Upper sixth

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?

The assessment is divided into two parts: AS Level and A Level which are combined to determine the final A Level grade.

AS level (worth 50% of the final A Level)

For the AS, there are two papers: Paper 1 (Core Physical Geography) and Paper 2 (Core Human Geography) and these papers are taken at the end of Lower Sixth, with the opportunity to retake in the Autumn. The papers have the same format. In Section A, students have three compulsory data response questions worth 10 marks each (one question on each of the three subtopics of study). In Section B, students choose one structured question from a choice of three (one question per subtopic of study). The question is worth thirty marks, divided into 7, 8 and 15 mark questions (the 15-mark question being an essay). Each paper is marked out of 60, lasts 1 hour 30 minutes and is worth 25% of the A Level.

A Level (worth 50% of the final A Level)

At A Level, there are two papers: Paper 3 (Advanced Physical Geography) and Paper 4 (Advanced Human Geography), each worth 60 marks and the papers are taken at the end of Upper Sixth. The papers have the same format: 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 is marked out of 60, lasts for 1 hour 30 minutes and is worth 25% of the final 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 and A level: CAIE 9696

Duncan Chamberlain
Head of Department

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