Lead/Summary Section “The study of Geography is about more than just memorising places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exist across continents. And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together”. Barack Obama
Geography has never been more relevant than it is today, offering students an insight into a complex and dynamic world. For millions of years, natural processes have been at work shaping our planet into the home we recognise today. However, the recent explosion of the human population has had a profound and often damaging effect upon the Earth and the wealthiest generation ever now lives on Earth, yet the gap between the richest and poorest nations has never been greater. Geography gives students the opportunity to investigate some of these issues.
Key Stage 3
In Geography, pupils have opportunities to develop geographical knowledge and understanding of people, places and environments. They explore the interaction between physical and human processes and investigate the importance of sustainability and the part they can play in protecting the environment around them. Pupils develop a sense of place by studying topical issues at local, national and global levels and they investigate how societies differ across the globe.
Pupils develop a range of geographical skills, such as map work, decision making and fieldwork skills.
This qualification builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills developed throughout KS3.
In studying the CCEA GCSE specification students will study the natural world around them, populations and the built environment. They will have the opportunity to evaluate river management strategies and the forces that create earthquakes and volcanic activity. They will explore challenges facing refugees and the environmental impact of increasing consumption, all of which encourages them to consider how they can contribute to a more sustainable planet.
Students apply the knowledge, understanding and skills gained in the Rivers topic to complete a fieldwork investigation, in conjunction with Magilligan Field Centre. This allows them to develop not only their fieldwork and geographical skills but also to apply what they have learned in the geography classroom, to the real world.
The CCEA GCE Geography specification gives students a broad knowledge and understanding of the processes and challenges facing our world.
At AS level, students investigate physical and human geography themes. They explore the processes that shape weather, investigate local and global ecosystems and the management of river systems. They also explore the relationships between population and resources, how to protect the countryside and differing levels of development across the globe. They undertake a fieldwork study investigating plant succession along a sand dune transect and an urban study where they survey land use and shopping habits of passers-by. These activities allow the students to develop their geographical and fieldwork skills including the ability to plan fieldwork investigations, collect data, present, analyse, interpret and evaluate their findings. They also have the chance to develop their ability to apply cartographic and statistical techniques.
At A2 level students explore plate tectonics and tropical ecosystems and investigate issues in ethnic diversity and tourism. They develop decision-making skills and apply these in a real life scenario.
We invite speakers and workshop facilitators into the school so that our pupils have the opportunity to attend presentations and participate in workshops where possible. These have included workshops on COP26 by RPS; collaboration between the Conservation Volunteers and our Eco-committee; a presentation from NI Water on using refillable bottles as part of their ‘Refillution’ campaign and a Career Pathways in Geography Talk by past pupils and a guest speaker from the Ulster University.
Attendance at some of the annual Geographical Association lectures in Queens University allows our senior pupils the opportunity to hear about current geographical issues and to gain some first-hand experience of university lectures.
Fieldwork is an essential element of the Geography curriculum. We give students the opportunity to visit places in Northern Ireland and abroad. We work closely with the Advisory Teachers at Magilligan Field centre to tailor fieldwork investigations to the curricular needs of our students at all Key Stages. We have also travelled to Italy and to Iceland to study natural hazards and physical features.
There is an Eco-committee run by the Geography Department, where students are encouraged to support the sustainable development of the school. Their work to date has involved an Environmental Review of the College identifying areas of focus such as Biodiversity, Waste, Energy and Healthy Living; a competition for Key Stage 3 classes to create an Eco-Code for the College based upon three key areas identified in the environmental review and a wide range of activities including: planting trees and wildflowers, creating window boxes for local residents, installing bird and bat boxes, focusing on reducing the College’s energy consumption, increasing classroom recycling including plastic bottles and litter picking both within the school grounds and in the local area. We have also collaborated with other schools to collect and recycle old stationery. All of these activities have led to the college being awarded the prestigious ‘Eco-Schools Green Flag’, on three different occasions.
A’ Level students are also encouraged to adopt the role of ‘Geography Ambassadors’ and to encourage sustainable practices amongst the school community.
Where to next?
A Level Geography students have progressed to further study in areas such as : Accountancy; Architectural Studies, Business of Real Estate, Sports Science, Dentistry, Social Work, Civil Engineering, Law, Medicine, Town & Country Planning, Environmental Planning, Teaching and Actuarial Science.
Geography is an interdisciplinary subject, bridging the gap between the arts and sciences. The Russell Group, which represents 24 leading UK universities, lists Geography as a “facilitating subject”. Facilitating subjects are the subjects most commonly required or preferred by universities to access a range of degree courses. Geography can therefore assist students obtaining a desired place, as many of the top universities will ask you to have at least one A-level in a facilitating subject when you apply.