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:
  • Skills for Geography
  • Map skills
  • Settlement
  • Weather and climate
  • Russia
  • ICT Skills for Geography
In Year 8 we investigate:
  • World cultures and landscape formation
  • Earthquakes and volcanoes
  • UK population - migration and change
  • Ecosystems
  • The environments of Africa
In Year 9 we investigate:
  • Coasts
  • The climate crisis
  • Development 
  • Gloabalisation
  • The Middle East


Key Stage 4 Geography

Why Study Geography at GCSE?

“So many of the world’s current problems boil down to Geography, and we need the geographers of the future to help us to understand them... Geography illustrates the past, explains the present and prepares us for the future...what could be more important than that?”

Michael Palin, Immediate Past President of the Royal Geographical Society

At GCSE, we deliver the Edexcel B Geography course which covers a wide range of both human and physical geography topics. Students will learn how human and physical processes bring about changes and interactions at different scales. Topics we cover include earthquakes and volcanoes, climate processes, rivers and coastal processes (physical) as well as changing urban environments, development studies and consumption of resources (human).

Students develop a range of skills such as data interpretation, report writing, statistics, fieldwork and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).  These elements all contribute to the well-rounded skills and knowledge base that the subject provides and this in turn means that graduate geographers (who continue the study at university) experience some of the lowest rates of graduate unemployment and the highest rates of satisfaction with their studies.​​​​​​​

Geography is the subject that spans the Arts and Sciences. It helps us to better understand the world around us and provides the ability to prepare well for the future. In the GCH Geography department, we love teaching about and continuing our own studies in Geography – it is a never-changing, relevant and exciting subject and we want you to choose to study it too.


​​​​​​​Geography provides students with a range of skills, and by the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • make a concise report (communication skills)
  • handle data (graphical and cartographical skills) - technological skills, including ICT and GIS
  • ask questions and find answers (interpersonal skills through debate and discussion)
  • solve problems (analysing materials)
  • improve literacy and numeracy skills
  • entrepreneurial skills and awareness of career possibilities  

Some examples of the type of work covered are given below:

  • A recent section of the Hazardous Earth unit looked at the causes of and how to respond to a volcanic eruption. A decision-making and role play exercise investigates how different agencies needed to co-ordinate information and respond to the crisis situation when the Montserrat volcano erupted in 1995.
  • In addition, we study aspects of human geography. While studying urbanisation, we look at a range of problems and solutions caused by rapid urban growth in cities such as Mumbai. This involves a virtual field-trip to the city making use of Google Earth and Street View to explore two contrasting neighbourhoods.
  • On a global scale, we investigate the ever-growing demand for resources in a rapidly developing world. We examine the environmental, economic and social costs and benefits of consumption of resources and look at local and global impact of habitat destruction.


Edexcel B

Component 1

Global Geography

Component 2

UK Geography

Component 3

Making Decisions

The challenge of urbanisation

Hazardous Earth - Plate tectonics

Development Dynamics

Weather and Climate - includes tropical cyclones and climate change

The UK's evolving physical landscape (rivers, coasts, glaciation and geology)

The UK's dynamic cities

Fieldwork - rivers or coasts plus rural or urban

Ecosystems - Tropical Rainforest and Tundra

Energy and Resource Use

90 min exam


90 min exam


75 min exam


Key Stage 5

Introduction to the course

The A Level geography course will cover both physical and human environments and the complex interaction of processes that shape our world. It will also, importantly, show the applied side of the subject - how human intervention affects the environment and how people adapt and mitigate the effects of processes on their environment. This is complex and dynamic and varies from place to place depending on people’s resources, technology and culture. There is plenty of room for discussion and extended research, which will help you become an independent thinker and learner. By the time you get to your exams, you will be able to show your understanding of a range of opinions and be able to illustrate your answers with case studies from local, national and international examples.

You will learn in a wide variety of ways, using maps, GIS skills, data analysis, photos, videos, and podcasts, as well as attending lectures and study days. You will be encouraged to frame your own questions using higher level thinking skills and show your grasp of complex issues through report and essay writing. Fieldwork will be an essential part of your A Level course. You will be offered the chance to go on a residential trip to experience a very different environment to the one where you live.

What skills will I need and develop in this course?

  • Recognise and be able to analyse the complexity of people–environment interactions at all geographical scales, and appreciate how they underpin understanding of some of the key issues facing the world today
  • Improve your understanding of the ways in which values, attitudes and circumstances have an impact on the relationships between people, place and environment, and develop the knowledge and ability to engage, as citizens, with the questions and issues arising (‘circumstances’ in this case refers to the context of people's lives, and the socio-economic and political milieu in which they find themselves)
  • Become confident and competent in selecting, using and evaluating a range of quantitative and qualitative skills and approaches, (including observing, collecting and analysing geo-located data) and applying them as an integral part of your studies
  • Understand the fundamental role of fieldwork as a tool to understand and generate new knowledge about the real world, and become skilled at planning, undertaking and evaluating fieldwork in appropriate situations
  • Apply geographical knowledge, understanding, skills and approaches in a rigorous way to a range of geographical questions and issues, including those identified in fieldwork, recognising both the contributions and limitations of geography


What enrichment activities are on offer?

We currently offer a four day residential trip to Barcelona where students have the chance to learn more about sand dune succession and urban regeneration. In addition to this we run local fieldwork to Stratford and other parts of London in order to make comparisons between different places local to us. When the opportunity arises, we attend lectures at the Royal Geographical Society and encourage students to attend their annual “Going Places With Geography” Higher Education event. The Geography Prefect has been arranging for guest speakers to visit students. There is an opportunity to attend online conferences in the run up to exams in order to hear advice from current and past examiners. Sixth form students support younger students by mentoring GCSE students.

What can the course lead to in terms of higher education and future careers?

Geography is a broad based subject which provides lots of opportunities for future progression. For example, geography is an obvious choice for careers in sustainability and green issues, urban regeneration, energy supply, retail location, managing the effects of hazards and climate change. For careers in the world of business, an understanding of global economics forms an important part of geography. If you are thinking of a career in law, human rights, international relations or welfare, then geography gives you the opportunity to consider relevant issues such as; How do we measure development? What are the consequences of migration on societies? If you are working towards a future course in medicine or veterinary medicine then geography is a good choice to give your A Level options the breadth that universities seek, as you will gain a clear understanding of how the environment affects health and survival of people, animals and ecosystems as well as enhancing your skills of writing essays and extended reports.

Of course many A Level students do not yet have a clear idea of what kind of career they might want to pursue. If you are in this position, remember that geography as an A level gives you the chance to keep your options open, as it covers both arts and science components. It is quite likely that when you choose geography your classmates will all be doing different combinations of A Level subjects – this adds to the interest when it comes to discussions on issues as everyone will have very different ways of thinking and expressing their opinions

Geography combines well with a wide range of subjects. It is highly valued by universities as an A Level choice. The Russell Group report published in 2011 names geography as one of the eight facilitating subjects. This is a subject most likely to be required or preferred for entry to degree courses and choosing facilitating subjects will keep more options open to you at university. In 2015 The Guardian identified geography as the 'must-have A Level'.

Programme of study

Paper 1

Tectonic processes and hazards

The water cycle and water insecurity

The carbon cycle and energy security

Coastal landscapes and change

2hrs 15mins exam

105 marks – 30% of qualification

Paper 2



Regenerating places

Health, human rights and intervention

2hrs 15mins exam

105 marks – 30% of qualification

Paper 3

Synoptic investigation

The synoptic investigation will be based on a geographical issue within a place-based context that links to the three synoptic themes and is rooted in two or more of the compulsory content areas.

2hrs 15mins exam

70 marks - 20% of the qualification

Paper 4

Coursework (Independent investigation)

Non-examined Assessment

70 marks – 20% of the qualification