Thinking about taking A Level geography?
Geography 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.
Your A Level geography course will cover both the 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 such as by using maps, GIS skills, data analysis, photos, videos, podcasts, as well as attending lectures and study days. You will be encouraged to frame your own questions using higher level thinking skills and showing your grasp of complex issues through report and essay writing.
Geography combines well with both arts and science subjects. You may already be thinking ahead to potential university and career choices so it is worth bearing in mind that geography is a broad based subject that really fits well for your future progression. For example, for careers in sustainability and green issues, urban regeneration, energy supply, retail location, managing the effects of hazards and climate change, geography is an obvious choice.
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.
To get a top grade you will need to read around the subject in newspapers and through magazine and internet articles. TV and radio documentaries are a rich source of current issues too. Joining the society as a Young Geographer (or if your school is a member of the Society) you will get access to our excellent Schools Member Area to help you with your studies.
Fieldwork will be an essential part of your A Level course. You may even get to go on a residential trip to experience a very different environment to the one where you live. For example you may visit an area famous for its coastal, river or glaciated scenery as well as carrying out enquiries relating to issues in your local environment.
In 2015 The Guardian identified geography as the 'must-have A Level'.