Geography helps you to make sense of the world around you. It's hands on, relevant, and fun.
Geography is a broad based academic subject which will open up options for you in your future. Employers and universities see geography as a robust academic subject rich in skills, knowledge and understanding. As a subject linking the arts and the sciences it is highly flexible in terms of what you can combine it with, both at GCSE and A Level. If you choose to take geography on to university there are literally hundreds of courses to choose from and the range of career areas accessed by graduates of geography will probably surprise you.
Do not just take our word for it. The importance of the subject to your education is evident.
Pupils choosing GCSE courses are now often encouraged by schools to include courses which will enable them to achieve Ebacc as part of their Key Stage 4 education. This means that in addition to English, maths and science, pupils choose a modern foreign language and either geography or history. In addition to these choices pupils will continue to have additional option choices enabling them to pick more level two options which may include arts, technologies, additional languages, additional humanities subjects and vocational subjects.
Geography helps you to make sense of the world around you. It is hands on, it is relevant and it is fun. Current GCSE courses are a good mix of topics such as urban issues, world development, extreme environments, rivers and hazards – to name but a few. The course will give you the chance to get to grips with some of the big questions which affect our world, and understand the social, economic and physical forces and processes which shape and change our world.
There are so many ways of learning in geography. It is very practical, with opportunities to learn new skills such as modern computer based mapping (called GIS), map skills, interpreting photographs, fieldwork skills, presenting, role play and debating techniques. You will improve your literacy through your report writing and written work and make practical use of your numeracy skills when you interpret data and construct graphs. Fieldwork, or working outside the classroom, is a really important part of geography. Whether you go locally or get the chance to travel further away, it will be a brilliant opportunity to experience some of the things you have learnt about in class, see things differently and of course have fun.
Your teacher will be able to tell you more about the specific GCSE course offered in your school. Don’t forget to ask about what sort of topic you might cover in your controlled assessment and where you will do your fieldwork. There has never been a better time to study geography so make the choice to go places with geography by taking geography at GCSE.
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Geography combines well with both arts and science subjects. Geography is highly valued by universities as an A Level choice. The Russell Group report (PDF) 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. In 2015 The Guardian identified geography as the 'must-have A Level'.
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, using maps, GIS skills, data analysis, photos, videos, and podcasts, as well as attending lectures and study days. You will be encouraged to frame your own questions using higher level thinking skills and show your grasp of complex issues through report and essay writing. 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.
Geography is a broad based subject which provides lots of opportunities for future progression. For example, geography is an obvious choice for careers in sustainability and green issues, urban regeneration, energy supply, retail location, managing the effects of hazards and climate change. 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. Young Geographers and School Members have access to the full range of our award-winning resources.
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