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Geography

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes

Marcel Proust 1871-1922

Geography at the Cardinal Vaughan strives to foster in pupils a sense of awe in the physical and human world and the interconnections between them.

We believe that by encouraging and equipping all pupils to explore and make sense of an evermore complex and dynamic world, they then have the power to choose their own place within it and, in their own unique way, to change it for the better.

Pupils broaden their awareness of geographical locations, the natural and human formation of places and landscapes, the interactions between society and environment, and how communities, economies and environments are inextricably woven. This is achieved through considering the local and global dimensions of a variety of issues.

Unique its ability to fuse science and the humanities, geography provides pupils with the technical understanding as well as the more socio-economic awareness of the causes and effects of pressing global issues. Geographical enquiry is central to this and encourages a scientific approach to questioning, investigation and analysis.

Fieldwork and the use of ICT is an intrinsic part of geography at the Cardinal Vaughan. Fieldwork opportunities at KS3-KS5 enable pupils to apply the skills they are taught in thinking spatially and in using maps, images and new technologies, including geographical information systems (GIS), to collect, present and analyse information. In so doing pupils develop a broad range of transferable skills in computing, maths and literacy.

The Geography Department boasts excellent public examination results with a significant proportion of pupils deciding to pursue the subject to degree level and beyond. Geography, a traditionally respected academic discipline, is highly regarded by admissions tutors in Oxbridge and in all leading universities. The subject is also highly regarded by a diverse range of employers who welcome the breadth of perspective, problem-solving and other wide skills which the subject imparts.

Key Stage Three

Geography is taught in ability sets from First Form to Third Form (Years 7-8). The programme of study is based on the requirements of the National Curriculum and a range of up-to-date resources are used. Pupils are taught fundamental geographical skills, techniques and vocabulary. These skills are applied studying a range of topics spanning the physical, human and environmental branches of the discipline.

Fieldwork opportunities exist throughout KS3 and have included visits to a farm where pupils conduct soil and river measurements and understand food production as an economic system. Pupils have also visited the Earth galleries of the Natural History Museum as well as events organised in tandem with the Royal Geographical Society.

Key Stage Four (The Current Fourth and Fifth Form – Years 10 and 11) Geography

Geography at GCSE follows the Edexcel A syllabus. The course covers a wide range of issues and aims to build and extend upon KS3. The course is divided into four modular units each worth 25% of the final GCSE. All modules are assessed at the end of the Fifth Form.

There is no coursework.

Fieldtrip Opportunities: These have included a coastal survey around Sussex, exploring the regeneration of London Docklands, the Olympic redevelopment of Stratford and a visit to a mixed farm in Berkshire.

●  Unit 1: Geographical Skills (cartographic skills, investigative skills, data handling and presentation using ICT, GIS and report writing). Assessment: 1 hour exam.
●  Unit 2: Physical Systems (exploring a range of physical and environmental topics such as tectonics and glaciated landforms. There is also a study of global water supply and the surrounding conflict and management issues). Assessment: 1 hour examination.
●  Unit 3: Human World (exploring a range of human geography topics such as migration and population). Assessment: 1 hour examination.
●  Unit 4: Geographical Investigation (controlled assessment unit where pupils create a report based on data collected during a fieldtrip). Assessment: One day fieldtrip and 15-20 classroom hours of supervised work.

Coursework has been replaced by the Unit 4 controlled assessment within the school. This assessment is based on pupils writing up a report under supervised conditions using information collected during a fieldtrip visit. In previous years, the fieldtrip has been based upon the theme of urban regeneration and has included data collection in London Docklands and the London Olympic redevelopment in Stratford.

The New KS4 GCSE (The Current Third Form) Geography

Our exciting new GCSE follows the Edexcel GCSE Geography B syllabus. It consists of three papers which will be externally assessed at the end of Fifth Form. 

There is no coursework or controlled assessment. 

Component 1: Global Geographical Issues

Written examination: 1 hour and 30 minutes
37.5% of the qualification
94 marks

Content overview:

● Topic 1: Hazardous Earth
● Topic 2: Development dynamics
● Topic 3: Challenges of an urbanising world

Component 2: UK Geographical Issues (*Paper 2 code: 1GB0/02)

Written examination: 1 hour and 30 minutes
37.5% of the qualification
94 marks

Content overview:

● Topic 4: The UK’s evolving physical landscape – including sub-topics 4A: Coastal change and conflict and 4B: River processes and pressures.
● Topic 5: The UK’s evolving human landscape – including a Case Study - Dynamic UK cities.
● Topic 6: Geographical investigations – including one physical fieldwork investigation and one human fieldwork investigation linked to Topics 4 and 5.

Component 3: People and Environment Issues – Making Geographical Decisions

Written examination: 1 hour and 30 minutes
25% of the qualification
64 marks

Content overview:

● Topic 7: People and the biosphere
● Topic 8: Forests under threat
● Topic 9: Consuming energy resources

Key Stage Five 

Geography at AS and A2 level follows the Edexcel GCE syllabus. Geography at AS level is designed to introduce the geographical context of many of the key issues facing societies around the world. It also aims to provide the investigative skills needed to independently research and understand these issues.

This course includes a residential fieldtrip. Previous destinations have included the Pembrokeshire and Devonshire coastlines. There are also visits, careers advice and guest speakers organised in conjunction with the Royal Geographical Society.

Geography AS level is divided into two units (together representing 50% of a full A level):

●  Unit 1: Global Challenge (a range of social and environmental issues are considered at different scales. This unit will, in many ways, provide the in-depth understanding and context for many of the environmental and geopolitical stories found in the media; from the controversies surrounding the causes and effects of climate change, to the issues of resource loss and conflict around the world). Assessment: 1 hour 30 minute examination. 60% of final AS level (30% of full A level).
●  Unit 2: Geographical Investigation (fieldwork skills and research methods are taught through the medium of a range of human and physical geographical themes. These diverse topics include understanding extreme weather events, the concept of re-branding place and the management of coastal resources). Assessment: 1 hour examination based on pre-released theme. 40% of final AS level (20% of full A level).

Geography A2 level is divided into two units (together representing 50% of a full A level). The A2 level builds and extends upon the AS level and introduces many of the topics and methods studied at undergraduate level. This element of the course is comprised of two units:

●  Unit 3: Contested Planet (this unit considers crucial geographical issues surrounding topics ranging from national and global energy security, water resource management, global biodiversity, geopolitical changes and superpower geographies, development issues and the technological fixes to environmental changes). Assessment: 2 hour 30 minute examination. 60% of final A2 level (30% of full A level).
●  Unit 4: Geographical Research (a series of key geographical themes are explored and researched based upon a pre-released topic and reading materials. The aim is to introduce undergraduate level research and to an enable a more independent approach to learning. This unit culminates in a timed essay on the subject researched). Assessment: Timed Essay. 40% final A2 level (20% of full A level).

The New KS5 A-Level (The Current AS-Level) Geography

A-Level Geography from September 2016

The department will be launching an exciting new AS-Level course and A2-Level course in September 2016. This will follow the Edexcel GCE syllabus. These courses includes a number of fieldtrips. Previous destinations have included the Pembrokeshire and Devonshire coastlines. There have also been visits to the Olympic redevelopment in East London. There are also visits, careers advice and guest speakers organised in conjunction with the Royal Geographical Society.

Content and assessment overview

The Pearson Edexcel Level 3 Advanced GCE in Geography consists of three externally examined papers and one coursework component. Although assessed separately, the AS-Level course and A2-Level course are co-teachable and enable AS-Level pupils to move onto the A2-Level course at the end of the first year if they so wish. 

Pupils must complete all assessment in May/June in any single year.

Paper 1 (Paper code: 9GE0/01)

Written examination: 2 hours
50% of the AS-level (30% of A2-level qualification)
90 marks

Content overview

The AS-level comprises of Topic 1 and Topic 2 (50% of AS-level):

● Area of study 1 Topic 1: Tectonic Processes and Hazards
● Area of study 1 Topic 2: Landscape Systems, Processes and Change

The A2-level course comprises of the AS-level topics plus Topics 5, 6 and 7 below (30% of A2-level):

● Area of study 3 Topic 5: The Water Cycle and Water Insecurity
● Area of study 3 Topic 6: The Carbon Cycle and Energy Security
● Area of study 3 Topic 7: Climate Change Futures

Assessment overview

An externally-assessed written examination comprising four sections. Students answer all questions in Section A (Tectonic Processes and Hazards), Section C (The Water Cycle and Water Insecurity) and Section D (The Carbon Cycle and Energy Security). Students answer either Question 2 (Glaciated Landscapes and Change) or Question 3 (Coastal Landscapes and Change) in Section B (Glaciated Landscapes and Change and Coastal Landscapes and Change). 

The examination may include short open, open response and resource-linked questions. The examination includes 10-mark and 15-mark extended writing questions. Calculators may be
used.

Paper 2 (Paper code: 9GE0/02)

Written examination: 2 hours
50% of the AS-level (30% of the A2-level qualification)
90 marks

Content overview

The AS-level course comprises of Topic 3 and Topic 4 (50% of AS-level):
● Area of study 2 Topic 3: Globalisation
● Area of study 2 Topic 4: Shaping Places
The A2-level course comprises of the AS-level topics plus Topics 8 and 9 below (30% of A2-level):
● Area of study 4 Topic 8: Superpowers
● Area of study 4 Topic 9: Global Development and Connections

Assessment overview

An externally-assessed written examination comprising four sections. Students answer all questions in Section A (Globalisation) and Section C (Superpowers). Students answer one question from Section B (Regenerating Places and Diverse Places) and one question from Section D (Health, Human Rights and Intervention; Migration, Identity and Sovereignty).

The examination may include short open, open response and resource-linked questions. The examination includes 10-mark and 15-mark extended writing questions. Calculators may be
used.

Paper 3 (*Paper code: 9GE0/03)

Written examination: 1 hour and 45 minutes
20% of the A2-level qualification
60 marks

This paper is for the A2 course alone (20% of the A2-level).

Content overview

The specification contains three synoptic themes within the compulsory content areas:
● Players
● Attitudes and actions
● Futures and uncertainties
● 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.

Assessment overview

An externally-assessed written examination comprising three sections. A resource booklet will contain information about the geographical issue. Students answer all questions in Section A, Section B and Section C.

Sections A, B and C all draw synoptically on knowledge and understanding from compulsory content drawn from different parts of the course. 

The examination may include short open, open response and resource-linked questions. The examination includes 6-mark, 15-mark and 18-mark extended writing questions. Calculators
may be used.

Coursework: Independent Investigation (9GE0/04)

Non-examined assessment
20% of the A2 level qualification
60 marks

This paper is for the A2 course alone (20% of the A2-level).

Content overview

● The student defines a question or issue for investigation, relating to the compulsory or optional content. The topic may relate to any aspect of geography contained within the specification
● The student’s investigation will incorporate fieldwork data (collected individually or as part of a group) and own research and/or secondary data
● The fieldwork which forms the focus and context of the individual investigation may be either human, physical or integrated physical-human
● The investigation report will evidence independent analysis and evaluation of data, presentation of data findings and extended writing
● Students will be expected to show evidence that they have used both quantitative and qualitative data to support their independent investigation as appropriate to the particular environment and / or location.

Assessment overview

● The investigation report is internally assessed and externally moderated.
● The student will produce a written report of 3000–4000 words.

Career Paths and Courses

Geography is a broad based academic degree which is well respected by employers. Geography graduates have one of the highest rates of graduate employment. Geographers enter a very wide range of career areas and being a traditional academic subject as opposed to a vocational subject, there is no such thing as a geography job, there are jobs that geographers do. Studying geography provides students with a wide knowledge base and valuable transferable skills. Broadly, there are three broad career strands which can be followed by Geography graduates:
 
1) A career position directly related to their geographical knowledge and skills

A first degree in geography is an entry point to many careers, for example: town and transport planning, chartered surveying, land and water management, sustainability, environmental consultancy, development, tourism, conservation, demography, housing and social welfare. At some point these careers will require further qualifications leading for example to chartered status, but many will offer the opportunity to do these qualifications whilst working. 

2) A career position which uses geographers' wide range of transferable skills 

The majority of geographers chose careers which make use of their transferable skills. Graduates from other disciplines will also enter these areas. These include information technology, administration and management, the financial sector, marketing, research, and industry and manufacturing 

3)  Further full-time study or training 

To develop a career in research (Masters or PhD) or teaching (PGCE), or to advance qualifications for entry into more specialised professions (Masters or PhD). 

Useful Websites

A full overview of the KS3 National Curriculum can be viewed from the QCA website.

A detailed overview of the GCSE syllabus (GCSE Geography A) as well as the AS and A2 syllabi, are available on the Edexcel website. This website also contains advice, past papers and miscellaneous resources.

The websites below are a sample of the most commonly used in the Geography Department. They can be drawn upon to assist with homework, revision or to simply read around topics.

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