Senior school > Curriculum > Geography

What really is global warming? Why has London developed as it has? Why are the Maldives moving its population? What will happen when Yellowstone erupts? Why can culture clashes lead to terrorism? Who creates Places? What is ocean acidification?

Geography encompasses such a broad range of skills and subject matter that it links to almost every decision you make. Developing your ability to understand social, political and environmental challenges is the core of the subject; the answers Geography provides will give you an understanding of how the world may look beyond your time at Gresham’s.

Geography is the study of place, space and the environment. It is unique in bridging the Social Sciences (Human Geography – exploration of societies, people and cultures) and the Earth Sciences (Physical Geography – understanding of physical landscapes and environmental processes). It helps us to understand the relationships and impacts between people: the environment and its resources. Through an understanding of these issues, Geography enables us to contribute widely to the social, economic, political and environmental challenges which will shape your future.

Beyond Gresham’s, Geography is rated by universities as one of eight facilitating subjects (ones that are preferred by universities). It also has a high rate of employment on graduation, in a wide range of employment sectors too. We are very eager to support pupils considering a Geography (or related discipline) at university.

At Gresham’s our syllabuses engage pupils with contemporary and topical themes which are linked to the real world environment (both domestically and internationally) through case studies.


Geography in Year 9 is about pupils enjoying approaching new topics, material and concepts whilst upskilling pupils so they’re ready to tackle the rigour of GCSE. Pupils will have come from different Geographical backgrounds and thus part of this year is about getting pupils to the same level.

A brief overview of each topic can be found below. Within each topic there is an opportunity for pupils to engage in group work; and we regularly test understanding through informal knowledge quizzes and more formal end of topic tests.

Pupils undertake a valued coursework project in the summer looking at microclimates which prepares them for some of the investigative processes which they will tackle in Years 10 and 11 if they continue with Geography through until GCSE.

Term 1 – Locational Geography and Development

Pupils are exposed to unusual places and build their knowledge of the principle themes of Physical and Human Geography. They will explore the reasons why countries vary in levels of development; the causes and implications of this. There is a focus on Geographical Skills (cartographic, graphical and image based work) too.

Term 2 – The Fundamentals of Geology

Pupils explore the rock cycle, the three main categories of rock, the properties of these rocks, and landforms which result from weathering, mass movement, erosion and deposition. Pupils explore the Geology of Norfolk, exposing them to some more local Geography surrounding Gresham’s.

Term 3 – Weather and Associated Hazards (including microclimates fieldwork)

Pupils will explore the basics of how weather is measured and the principle theory of urban and rural microclimates. We start the GCSE syllabus in this term, with a small and exciting topic on weather hazards (e.g. tropical storms) and the climate/weather of the UK.


Exam board: AQA

The GCSE final grade is based on three exams and there is no coursework. Pupils have to attend two fieldwork days, which are close to the school.

Paper 1 exam: (1 hour 30 minutes, 35% of GCSE) This is concerned with the dynamic nature of physical processes and systems, and human interaction with them in a variety of places and at a range of scales. An understanding of the tectonic, geomorphological, biological and meteorological processes and features in different environments, and the need for management strategies governed by sustainability and consideration of the direct and indirect effects of human interaction with the Earth and the atmosphere. Topics – Tectonic and weather hazards, and climate change. Ecosystems, rainforests and hot deserts. UK physical landscapes, coastal and glacial landscapes in the UK.

Paper 2 exam: (1 hour 30 minutes, 35% of GCSE) This is concerned with human processes, systems and outcomes and how these change both spatially and temporally. They are studied in a variety of places and at a range of scales and must include places in various states of development, such as higher income countries (HICs), lower income countries (LICs) and newly emerging economies (NEEs). They develop an understanding of the factors that produce a diverse variety of human environments; the dynamic nature of these environments that change over time and place; the need for sustainable management; and the areas of current and future challenge and opportunity for these environments. Topics – Urban issues and challenges, the changing economic world, resource management, either food/water/energy resources.

Paper 3 exam: (1 hour 15 minutes, 30% of GCSE) Section A is a critical thinking and problem-solving assessment. Pupils have the opportunity to demonstrate geographical skills and applied knowledge and understanding by looking at a particular issue(s) derived from the specification using secondary sources. A resource booklet will be available twelve weeks before the date of the exam so that pupils have the opportunity to work through the resources, enabling them to become familiar with the material. Sources could include maps at different scales, diagrams, graphs, statistics, photographs, satellite images, sketches, extracts from published materials, and quotes from different interest groups. Assessment will consist of a series of questions related to a contemporary geographical issue(s), leading to a more extended piece of writing, which will involve an evaluative judgement.

Section B consists of two geographical enquiries, each of which must include the use of primary data, collected as part of a fieldwork exercise. The two enquiries must be carried out in contrasting environments and show an understanding of both physical and human geography. In at least one of the enquiries, pupils are expected to show an understanding about the interaction between physical and human geography.


Entry requirements: preferably a grade 5/C (or higher) in GCSE Geography, or a related discipline.

Geography is a broad academic subject that leads to banking, accountancy, law, planning, geology, hydrology and international development. Geography at university can be human (social sciences) or physical oriented (science) oriented.

A level Geography course overview:

Core Physical Geography

  • Hydrology and fluvial Geomorphology
  • Atmosphere and weather
  • Rocks and weathering

Core Human Geography

  • Population
  • Migration
  • Settlement dynamics

Advanced Physical Geography Options

  • Coastal environments
  • Hazardous environments

Advanced Human Geography Options

  • Environmental management
  • Economic transition

Field Trips:

There are a series of day trips run to complement the delivery of the course.

The department have previously run trips to Iceland and Morocco. We are currently looking into trips to Chamonix and British Columbia.


Paper 1 (25% final grade)
Paper 2 (25% final grade)
Paper 3 (25% final grade)
Paper 4 (25% final grade)


Entry requirements: Preferably a Grade 5/C (or higher) in GCSE Geography, or a related discipline.

Geography is a broad subject that leads to banking, accountancy, law, planning, geology, hydrology and international development. Geography at university can be human (social sciences) or physical (science) oriented.

Paper 1 (SL 2 of 3, HL 3 of 4)
Freshwater and drainage basins
Oceans and coastal margins
Geographical hazards

Paper 2 (SL & HL)
Changing population, Global climate vulnerability and resilience, Global resource consumption and security

Paper 3 (HL only)
Geographic perspectives—global interactions. Power, places and networks. Human development and diversity. Global risks and resilience

Internal Assessment:
Fieldwork, leading to one written report of 2,500 words based on a fieldwork question, information collection and analysis with evaluation.

Field Trips:
There are a series of day trips run to complement the delivery of the course.


Paper 1: (35% HL+SL) SL pupils only do 2 options, 45 minutes per option question. Total 2 hours 15 minutes. Each option has a structured question and one extended answer question from a choice of two: 20 (10 + 10) marks per option Total 60 marks.

Paper 2 (SL 40% and HL 25%) Section A- Three structured questions, based on each SL/HL core unit 30 marks Section B- Infographic or visual stimulus, with structured questions 10 marks Section C – One extended answer question from a choice of two 10 marks – Total 50 marks.

Paper 3 (HL 20%) Total 1 hour – Choice of three extended answer questions, with two parts, based on each HL core unit 28 marks – Part A 12 marks Part B 16 marks.
Internal Assessment (20% HL and 25% SL).


Electives and Enrichment
We run a series of slots each week so pupils can gain access to further support (whether this be skilled based, exam technique or around content). These run each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and there is a schedule of specific topics for GCSE support too.

After chapel on a Saturday pupils can also drop in to the department to catch up on work missed during the week; or get 1:1 support.

WorldWise Quiz
We are hosting the Norfolk/East Anglia WorldWise Quiz this academic year; and regularly enter teams into this event. This is aimed at our Year 9 pupils and is generally around their locational knowledge, both in the UK and wider afield.

The Geography Department runs international trips in order to provide opportunities for pupils to experience Geography in the real world and to expand their thinking.

We tend to run a trip abroad every three years, to Iceland, during the October half term, open to Years 9 to 13. The tour includes: Secret Lagoon, Gullfoss, Geyser Geothermal Area, Thingvellir National Park, Kerið Crater, Lava Centre, Sólheimajökull Glacier, Reynishverfi Beach, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant, Hveragerdi and Reykjavik.

The department is currently looking into cross-curricular trips with other academic departments in the next few years too.

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