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A Level results published this morning, Thursday 13 August 2020, by the Joint Council for Qualifications show a decrease in the number of students sitting the examinations in geography.

30,198 students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland sat A Level geography this year, a decrease of 13.6% on 2019, and is mirrored by broadly similar declines in the number of students taking A Levels in other social science and humanities subjects such as history and political sciences.

Commenting, the Society’s Director, Professor Joe Smith, said:

“The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) congratulates all the students receiving their A Level geography results today, especially given the difficult circumstances they’ve faced over the last few months.

Despite the decrease in A Level entrants this year, we are pleased to see an uplift in the number of applications to geography degrees. However, the Society and the wider geographical community recognise that more needs to be done to support and encourage the record numbers of GCSE geography students to continue their studies at A Level and beyond.

The global health crisis has thrown into sharp focus the interconnected nature of social, economic and ecological systems at the local, national and international scales. Coupled alongside our post-pandemic recovery are important issues such as climate change, migration, racial inequalities and the UK’s role in the world following its departure from the EU.

Addressing all of these issues requires up-to-date knowledge about the world’s people, places and environments – which studying geography can provide. Having a solid understanding of geography is one way to equip young people to make sense of and contribute positively to these developing and challenging times.

In addition, any students considering their next steps today should remember that undergraduate geography courses have some of the best student feedback in the National Student Satisfaction surveys. And geographers are sought after employees with above average graduate employment and salary prospects. In short, it is a subject that is not only relevant to the real world, but also one you are more likely to enjoy, secure a job through and earn a reasonable wage with.”



Notes to editor

  • For further media enquiries please contact the Society’s Press Officer, Lucy Preston, on +44 (0)77 1478 3126 or  

  • The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830, our Royal Charter of 1859 is for 'the advancement of geographical science'. Today, we deliver this objective through developing, supporting and promoting geographical research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, public engagement, and geography input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer’.