A-level Geography is spread over two years and divided into a number of modules. These aim to give students a balanced diet of both human and physical geography, as well as a sound understanding of geographic fieldwork and skills. It is aimed at those with a genuine interest in geographical issues and those who want to learn more about the way in which our world works.
You will study a range of contemporary geographical issues which focus on the inter-relationship between people and their environment. You will gain a deep understanding of local and global issues and enhance your ability to be analytical. You will develop your investigative skills and have many opportunities to participate in both day visits and residential trips.
Our exam board is AQA. Through each of the varied topics, you will be asked to question the impact of humans on natural systems and to consider the importance of maintaining those natural systems for humans to survive. From discussing who holds ultimate power in a world of differing ideologies and changing economies, to discovering the power of super-volcanoes and researching the methods used to manage them, our course at St Brendan's is as dynamic as the ever-changing world.
There are 3 components to the course:
Component 1: Physical Geography
Water and Carbon cycles
This section focuses on the major stores of water and carbon at or near the Earth’s surface and the dynamic cyclical relationships associated with them. These are major elements in the natural environment and understanding them is fundamental to many aspects of physical geography.
Hot Desert Environments & their Margins
This section focuses on drylands which occur at all latitudes and are characterised by limited soil moisture caused by low precipitation and high evaporation. The focus is on hot deserts and their margins, where the operation of characteristic aeolian and episodic fluvial processes with their distinctive landscape outcomes are readily observable.
This focuses on the lithosphere and the atmosphere, which intermittently but regularly present natural hazards to human populations, often in dramatic and sometimes catastrophic fashion. By exploring the origin and nature of earthquakes, volcanoes, storms and fires and the various ways in which people respond to them, you will be able to engage with many dimensions of the relationships between people and the environments they occupy.
Component 2: Human Geography
This section focuses on people's engagement with places, their experience of them and the qualities they ascribe to them, all of which are of fundamental importance in their lives. You will engage with how places are known and experienced, how their character is appreciated, the factors and processes which impact upon places and how they change and develop over time. From this, you will gain insight into how your own life and those of others are affected by continuity and change in the nature of places.
Global Systems and Governance
This section focuses on globalisation – the economic, political and social changes associated with technological and other driving forces which have been a key feature of global economy and society in recent decades. Increased interdependence and transformed relationships between peoples, states and environments have prompted more or less successful attempts at a global level to manage and govern some aspects of human affairs. You will engage with important dimensions of these phenomena with particular emphasis on international trade, access to markets and the governance of the global commons.
Population and the environment
This has been designed to explore the relationships between key aspects of physical geography and population numbers, population health and well-being, levels of economic development and the role and impact of the natural environment. Engaging with these themes at different scales fosters opportunities for you to contemplate the relationships between physical environment and human population and the relationships between people in their local, national and international communities.
Component 3: Geographical Investigation
Independent research project:
During the course you are required to undertake an independent investigation. This must incorporate a significant element of fieldwork. The fieldwork undertaken as part of the individual investigation may be based on either human or physical aspects of geography, or a combination of both. They may incorporate field data and/or evidence from field investigations collected individually or in groups. What is important is that you work on your own on contextualising, analysing and reporting on your work to produce an independent investigation with an individual title.
How is the course assessed?
Assessment is by 2 written exams at the end of the second year of study. Each exam counts for 40% of the final grade. A further 20% is awarded for an independent research project mainly completed in the summer break between the first and second year of study.
Methods Of Teaching & Learning
Our aim is to ensure that every student reaches their potential. As such, the department endeavors to support all students regardless of their starting point. Methods of teaching include the use of a range of interactive learning software, 1:1 and group workshops and discussion-based learning. Students are also given time to reflect and work independently, as well as within groups and often lead in their own learning and the learning of others.
Students will develop a wide variety of transferable skills, many of which are based in numeracy and literacy. They will also develop a critical awareness of a wide range of literature and be able to assess them in an increasingly independent way. We expect our students to be up to date with current affairs and the latest geographical developments.
Independent learning is vital at A-level and students are expected to carry out a minimum of four hours study per week. Our A-level library enables students to access a wide range of text books, journals and geographical literature, including Geography Review Magazine, to name a few. We also have a well-populated and up to date virtual learning environment, where you can access our lesson materials and lots of wider reading. Below are a few websites to get you started! World mapper Gapminder British Geography
Geography is recognized as both a Science and an Arts A-level and therefore complements a wide variety of subjects. Geography is one of the 'facilitating' A-levels because of its academic rigor and the skills it arms students with and as a result is often appreciated as one of the three A-levels that a graduate should have. The breadth that geography offers makes it a very desirable subject for a wide variety of careers, including environmental management, humanitarian and development work, engineering, architecture and town planning, journalism, law and business management and GIS applications (digital mapping).
Our aim is to ensure that you reach your potential. The department will support you regardless of your starting point. We pride ourselves in our commitment to all our students and offer individual tutorials in order to help you beyond the classroom. Our teaching and subject expertise provides you with the individualised support that you need, whether in aspiring to an A* or achieving your own highest level.
We have close links to a number of businesses, charities and universities, and during the year you will have the opportunity to hear from these subject experts. For instance, last year we were visited by CAFOD's climate change advisor.
In June of their first year all students will visit the Eden Project in Cornwall. This trip will cost approximately £100 (bursary support can be applied for).
In the past we have undertaken a number of residential fieldtrips, most recently students spent a week studying volcanic activity and landscape in Iceland. Next year will study volcanism within the Amalfi Coast, Italy. We are also investigating the possibility of a trip to Morocco, so students experience a hot desert environment.