The Grey Coat Hospital

Church of England Comprehensive School for Girls


About the Subject : The Beauty and Challenge of Geography

At The Grey Coat Hospital we learn Geography through enquiry into issues that affect people and the environment both locally and around the world.

Geography is not only up-to-date and relevant, but it is one of the most exciting, adventurous and valuable subjects to study today. So many of the world’s current problems boil down to geography and need the geographers of the future to help us understand and manage them.

Global warming, sustainable food production, natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanoes, the spread of disease, the reasons for migration and the future of energy resources are just some of the challenges facing the next generation of geographers.

At The Grey Coat Hospital we stimulate the mind and impart a ‘go and see for yourself attitude’, rather than be told by others.

The subject is compulsory at Key Stage 3 and then becomes an option at GCSE and A level. Geography is recognised at A level for its academic ‘robustness’ and, importantly, it helps young people into the world of work as it contains a myriad of transferable skills.

Employers prize the skills that studying geography can provide, be it knowing how the world works, planning, research and report writing, working in a team, using new technologies and communication skills- and much more. The wide range of jobs geography can lead to include planning, the City, working in the environment, the travel and tourist industry, international charities, agriculture, retail and many more.

Throughout the curriculum there are opportunities to use map skills (traditional and digital) alongside extending literacy, numeracy and ICT skills. Our students are global citizens. We celebrate our ethnic diversity, learning reasons for inequality in the world whilst considering the type of actions to be taken to make the world a better place.

The Curriculum

Geography is compulsory at KS3

Key Stage 3 programme of study:

In Year 7 we investigate:
  • What is Geography?
  • Settlement
  • Rivers
  • Map skills
  • Weather and climate
  • Coasts
In Year 8 we investigate:
  • Our world cultures
  • Physical landscapes
  • Plate tectonics
  • Crime
  • Ecosystems
  • The environments of Africa
In Year 9 we investigate:
  • Inequalities in development
  • Globalisation
  • Food
  • Tourism
  • Cities & Population
  • Global warming

Key Stage 4 programme of study:

At GCSE we deliver the AQA syllabus A. Within this we cover two units each comprising of three topics and one piece of coursework related to one of the topics studied.

Physical paper: Restless Earth, Weather and climate and the Coastal zone. This has a 90 minute examination worth 37.5% of the total grade.

Human paper: Changing urban environments, the Development Gap and Globalisation. This has a 90 minute examination worth 37.5% of the total grade

Controlled assessment: This will change each year according to exam board regulations. After a field visit to Cambridge students carry out a study of sustainable traffic management within the city. This is worth 25% of the total marks. This coursework is completed in controlled examination conditions during school hours.

What is GCSE Geography about?

Students learn to consider a variety of aspects about the world they live in. In year 10 students are expected to challenge a variety of different viewpoints, tackle topical issues and problem solving.

Students learn about both the natural and man-made world and how these interact, not always with desirable outcomes. Fieldwork enables students to investigate a question and test the theory they have learnt in the classroom. This provides them with transferable skills which will be beneficial later in their working lives.

Key Stage 5

At A level we deliver the EDEXCEL syllabus.

At A level we continue the approach of learning about physical and human environments through studying issues based Geography.

Geography is about the natural world and the place of people within it. Studying geography involves developing a curious, questioning approach to the world at a local, national and global level.

Post-16 geography builds on and develops skills and knowledge developed at GCSE. It encourages students to focus on major global issues and provides a framework within which to investigate them.

There are two AS and two A2 units the content of which is outlined below:

  • AS1: Global Challenges – Going Global and World at risk. One half of the unit focuses on issues facing the natural world – e.g. global warming and natural hazards. The other half looks at issues such as ageing population, migration patterns, globalisation and world cities.
  • AS2: Geographical Investigations. In this unit students carry out several pieces of fieldwork some of which they will be expected to write up in their examinations at the end of the course. Currently we investigate rebranding in Barcelona, flash flooding and the impact of altitude on weather.

AS level Geography is assessed with two examinations at the end of the course. There is no coursework.

  • A2 1: Contested planet: this unit consists of 6 compulsory units which are: Energy Security, Water Conflicts, Biodiversity Under Threat, Superpower Geographies, Bridging the Development Gap and The Technological Fix.
  • A2 2: In this unit students have to choose one of the following and carry out structured research throughout the year: Tectonic Activity and Hazards, Cold Environments- Landscapes and Change, Life on the Margins – the Food Supply Problem, The World of Cultural Diversity, Pollution and Human Health at Risk, Consuming the Rural Landscape – Leisure and Tourism. Guidance on where to focus on the chosen topic is given four weeks prior to the final examination.

A2 level Geography is assessed with two examinations at the end of the course. There is no coursework.

AS and A2 Level Geography links many other subject areas. It contains elements of the Sciences through topics such as climate change and the management of hazards (earthquakes and volcanoes). It includes aspects of Psychology in understanding how human behaviour shapes places, especially in cities. It has links with Law, Politics and History in investigating how decisions are made and how this affects the places in which we live. It uses a variety of data sources which have obvious links with Maths, economic links and as the study of different countries Geography has links with Modern Languages.

To study geography at A Level we anticipate at least a B grade at GCSE.

Enrichment and Extra Curricular

We always endeavour to offer a wide range of enrichment and extra-curricular opportunities to complement the work in class.

We have always run a Geography Club and encourage students to attend lectures at the Royal Geographical Society Year 7 Investigate the local area and make a field visit to Eastbourne.

Year 8 visit the Museum of London in connection to the city’s cultural and diversity and also Kew Gardens as part of their African Studies.

Year 9 visit Borough Market and Shad Thames to investigate the local area and food cultures.

The GCSE fieldwork rotates according to Examination Board regulations. This year we studied traffic management in Cambridge – see above.

The A level geographers take part in two residential trips – one to north Wales and a second to a YHA close to London (TBC). These are alongside a number of local area investigations.