GCSE Geography


Geography is a course which familiarises students with this particular scientific field as well as providing them with a broad range of skills, from a knowledge of geological processes, environments repartition and spatial awareness, to the an understanding of the interactions between economic, social and cultural factors. Geography is therefore a course which merges the scientific and social disciplines, and is therefore ideal for those looking for a compromise between those.

Why study Geography?

It gives a full and well rounded understanding of the world and is therefore would give any students valuable insight providing transferable skills and knowledge in any field, but is particularly recommended in helping students make choices concerning vocational career path in Geography or related fields.

Which syllabus do we follow?

We follow the AQA specification for Geography.

How many units are there?

There are 4 units in total.

What is each unit about?


Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4

Living with the physical environment

Section A: The challenge of natural hazards

  • The global distribution of natural hazards and the natural processes causing them
  • How natural hazards affect countries according to their level of development
  • Human activities and its impact on natural hazards
  • Predicting and reducing the impact of natural hazards
  • Evidence for climate change and its possible causes
  • The impact of climate change on people and the environment
  • How can climate change be managed

Section B: The living world

  • The interrelationships and balance between the components of small and large ecosystem
  • The characteristics of a range of ecosystems, and how human development of those ecosystems create both economical opportunities and challenges to the environments
  • How can those challenges be managed to minimize risks of damage to the environment

Section C: Physical landscapes in the UK

  • The UK’s diverse landscape, including coastal landscapes, river landscapes, glacial landscapes
  • The way coastal landscape is shaped by natural physical processes
  • Rock types and the processes of deposition and erosion
  • How coasts landscapes can be managed and protected
  • River landscape and how rivers change and affect the landscape
  • How can river lanscape be managed to avoid the risks of flooding
  • How the Ice Age shaped the landscape through a range of processes

Challenges in the human environment

Section A: Urban issues and challenges

  • The growing urbanisation of the world’s population
  • The opportunities and challenges created by urbanisation and how can those be managed, including case studies of UK cities
  • How to promote urban sustainability by managing resources and transports

Section B: The changing economic world

  • The global variations in economic developments and quality of life and how they can be measured using various factors
  • The causes and consequences of uneven development as well as the different strategies to reduce it
  • Countries experiencing rapid development and the changes this creates
  • How changes in the UK’s economy affect employment patterns and regional growth          
  • Section C: The challenge of resource management
    • Resources and their relationship to human development
    • The changing demands for resources in the UK
    • The rising demands for food and water resources and the issues arising from supply deficit
    • The different strategies to increase supply


Geographical applications

Section A: Issue evaluation

Students will evaluate a range of sources and answer a series of unseen questions by producing a piece of writing, drawing from their broader geographical knowledge and understanding. Students will have to weight different view points, issues, disagreement and, geographical context.

Section B: Fieldwork

This unit comprehends two geographical enquiries based on units 1 and 2 plus the collection of primary data on the field. Students will have to show an understanding of the interaction between physical and human geography.

Geographical skills

Students will develop a range of geographical skills, including cartographic, graphical, numerical, statistical skills, the use of qualitative and quantitative data, formulating enquiry and argument, literacy skills.

Those skills will be assessed across the three exam papers.

How is each unit examined?

Paper 1Paper 2Paper 3

Living with the physical environment

Students sit a 1 hour and 30 minutes written exam. Students answer a range of questions (multiple choice, short answer, extended answer).

88 marks, 35% of GCSE

Challenges in the human environment

Students sit a 1 hour 30 minutes written exam. Students answer a range of questions (multiple choice, short answer, extended answer).

88 marks, 35% of GCSE

Geographical applications

Students sit a 1 hour 15 minutes written exam. Students answer a range of questions (multiple choice, short answer, extended answer).

76 marks, 30% of GCSE. Resources booklet made available 12 weeks before the exam.

When do the exams take place?

The exams take place in June.

Which Ashbourne teachers teach this course?

Jerry Evans
BSc Hons (Aberystwyth), FSI (City University, London) Geography (HoD), Business Studies

Ashbourne College London Geography teacher - Jerry Evans

Jerry has a degree in Geography from the University of Aberystwyth. He worked in investment banking for many years, before completing his PGCE and turning to teaching. He holds an FSI and is a Fellow of the Securities Institute. He is also a member of the advisory board for the School of Management and Business of the University of Wales. Jerry is extremely well travelled and has visited almost every country on the globe.

Beyond GCSE for Geography students

Geography A level is a good foundation for Geography A Level and for many degree courses. It is particularly useful for students planning to study Geology, Environmental Science, Environmental Management, Planning, Social Anthropology and courses related to Travel and Tourism.