Geography is about the world in which we live and on which we depend. It seeks to explain how landscapes, people, places and the fragile environment are all interwoven. Geography aims to foster a curiosity, awareness and understanding of our changing world.
“Geography illuminates the past, explains the present and prepares us for the future, what could be more important than that?” (Michael Palin CBE)
The Key Stage 3 curriculum is varied and engaging, aimed at promoting a love of the subject. It is carefully sequenced to enable students to achieve mastery in the subject. We introduce key geographical skills whilst exploring a wide range of physical and human units. Each topic offers opportunities to develop map work skills, GIS, literacy, numeracy, and decision making. Students carry out fieldwork trips in each year, experiencing both physical and human environments linked to the curriculum. In Year 7, we visit Cardiff Bay to assess the urban regeneration project and hear from local stakeholders involved. In Year 8, we head into the Black Mountains to investigate the economic change in South Wales. In the morning, we visit Big Pit, within the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, to learn about an example of primary industry. While in the afternoon, we collect fieldwork data on the Blorenge, a hill in Abergavenny, measuring the impact of tourism on footpaths. Year 9 come off timetable in half-year groups to compete in the World Trade Game in the Blake Theatre. The students are divided into groups and trade with each other within the free market economy of tariffs, quotas and other sanctions. We also use our urban environment of Monmouth to build in local fieldwork carried out within our lesson time.
At GCSE, our students follow the AQA Geography specification, and is a very popular option subject. Students carry out two fieldwork investigations – the human enquiry assesses the success of urban regeneration in Bristol harbourside, while the physical enquiry investigates the changing characteristics of the Blackpool Brook downstream. These days provide a fantastic opportunity for students to experience the theory in real life. The course consists of three exams and topics include:
Paper 1 ‘Living with the Physical Environment’ (35% – 90 minutes – 88 marks)
- Section A – The Challenge of Natural Hazards (Hazards + Tectonics + Weather/Climate Change)
- Section B – The Living World (Ecosystems + Tropical rainforests + Hot deserts)
- Section C – Physical Landscapes in the UK (UK landscapes + Rivers + Glacial)
Paper 2 ‘Challenges in the Human Environment’ (35% – 90 minutes – 88 marks)
- Section A – Urban Issues and Challenges (Urban change + HIC London + LIC Mumbai + Sustainability)
- Section B – Economic World (Global variations + Development gap + Nigeria + UK economics)
- Section C – Resource Management (Resource Management + Food)
Paper 3 ‘Geographical Applications’ (30% – 90 minutes – 76 marks)
- Section A – Issue Evaluation (resource booklet released 12 weeks before the exam)
- Section B – Fieldwork (students need to undertake one physical + one human fieldwork – see below)
In 2020, 87% of students studying Geography at Monmouth School gained a Grade 7-9, and 100% gained Grade 4-9.
Why study Geography?
The Edexcel course is designed to engage students critically with real world issues and places. Current world issues linked to North Korea and the USA, global trade and Brexit, the carbon cycle and climate change are integral to A level Geography. The course has a contemporary issues-based approach with an emphasis on geo-political issues linked to global trade, political institutions, global environmental issues linked to energy and water resources. Students also learn a wide range of geographical skills and fieldwork.
Being a social science, Geography has links with many subjects including: Biology, Business, Chemistry, Economics, Ethics, History and Mathematics. There has never been a more important time to study Geography with growing interest in issues such as resource use, climate change, migration and environmental degradation.
As a facilitating subject an A level in Geography opens doors. You will find that studying Geography is an excellent step towards a wide range of university courses and/or employment opportunities. Geographers are highly employable, possessing a wide range of transferable skills (problem solving, decision making, report writing and team work) essential to the modern work place. Geography graduates have one of the highest rates of graduate employment, pursuing a wide range of career paths.
Head of Department: Mr S Rentell
Board: Edexcel A level Syllabus Code: 9GE0
The course is broadly split between human and physical topics, however there is a constant interdependence between the two that is reinforced throughout the course. The topics include:
- Tectonics processes and hazards
- Landscape systems, processes and change
- Water Cycle and water insecurity
- Carbon Cycle and Energy Security
- Shaping Places – Regenerating places
- Migration, Identity and Sovereignty
All students will attend a residential field trip to meet the exam board requirement of 4 days of fieldwork, where they will investigate a range of locations and differing geographical techniques. The data they will collect will be used to develop an independent geographical investigation of 4,000 words.
Method of assessment
Unit 1 – Physical World 9GE0/01
You will be examined on all physical topics studied over the two year course. Written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes. 30% of the A level qualification.
Unit 2 – Dynamic Places 9GE0/02
You will be examined on all human topics studied over the two year course. Written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes. 30% of the A level qualification.
Unit 3 – Geographical Issues 9GE0/03
A synoptic style written examination supported by a resource booklet: 2 hours 15 minutes. 20% of the A level qualification.
Unit 4 – Independent Investigation 9GE0/04
4000-5000 word fieldwork investigation report. 20% of the A level qualification.
The department is a member of the Royal Geographical Society and Geographical Association. The local branch of the Geographical Association provides quizzes for lower school pupils as well regular opportunities for sixth formers to attend lectures at the University of Bristol and Cardiff Geography Departments.
We take pupils to Cardiff university each June to participate in the WelshWise Geography quiz, and hold our own inter-school competition in the Michaelmas Term. We organise a bi-annual ‘Awe and wonder’ trip to Iceland – a real highlight for all who attend! We promote online seminars and have great connections with local environmentalists who come into school and deliver talks on a range of topics including: regenerative farming, wine industry, the state and health of our local rivers, and migration issues.