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

GCSE Geography course overview:

Paper 1* 35% of GCSE  

  • The challenge of natural hazards, The living world, Physical landscapes in the UK.
  • Written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 88 marks (including 3 marks for spelling, punctuation, grammar and specialist terminology [SPaG]

Paper 2* 35% of GCSE   

  • Urban issues and challenges, The changing economic world, The challenge of resource management
  • Written exam: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 88 marks (including 3 marks for SPaG)

Paper 3* 30% of GCSE   

  • Issue evaluation [Pre Release Booklet] and Fieldwork
  • Written exam: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 76 marks (including 6 marks for SPaG)
  • Pre-release resources booklet made available 12 weeks before

*Geographical Skills are examined throughout all three papers.

How the course is delivered at Gresham’s:

Year 10 topics: Tectonic hazards, Climate change, Tropical Rainforests and Hot Deserts. Coastal and River landscapes in the UK.

Fieldwork Project: Local coastal fieldwork on the North Norfolk coastline.

Year 11 topics: Urban issues and Challenges, The changing Economic world, Food, Water and Energy Resource management.

Fieldwork Project: Local urban fieldwork in Norwich.

There is no formal coursework project which is submitted as part of their final grade. Instead, the coursework component is assessed through questions in the Paper 3 exam. The fieldwork is assessed in ‘unseen’ fieldwork as well as questions based on the fieldwork they completed in Years 10 and 11.


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

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.


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

IB Geography course Overview:

Pupils can choose to opt for Standard Level (SL) or Higher Level (HL):

Paper 1

  • Each option has a structured question and one extended answer question from a choice of two.
  • Freshwater
  • Oceans & Coastal Margins
  • Geophysical Hazards              
  • SL: 35%
  • HL: 35%

Paper 2

  • Three structured questions, based on each SL/HL core unit. Infographic or visual stimulus, with structured questions. One extended answer question from a choice of two.     
  • Population distribution; changing population.
  • Global climate; vulnerability and resilience.
  • Global resource consumption and security   
  • SL: 40%
  • HL:25%

Paper 3 [HL only]

  • Choice of three extended answer questions, with two parts, based on each HL core extension unit.        
  • Power, places and networks
  • Human development and diversity
  • Global risks and resilience     
  • HL: 20%

Independent Assessment [Internal]

  • One written report based on fieldwork question from any suitable syllabus topic, information collection, and analysis with evaluation.
  • At Gresham’s, we do fieldwork based on the local river Glaven. 
  • SL: 25%
  • HL: 20%

How the course is delivered at Gresham’s:

Year 12: The Global Climate, Population, Freshwater and Oceans topics are covered from Paper 1 & 2. Pupils start the IA, which must be completed by the October Half Term of Year 13. Those opting for HL will cover two of the three topics during the Summer Term alongside the IA.

Fieldwork Project: The river Glaven

Year 13: Those completing SL will have a little more time to complete the IA, otherwise the remaining topics are covered along with a comprehensive revision programme.


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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A level
IB Diploma