Geography GCSE and beyond 

Geography GCSE and beyond 

Medline Claire is one of Spires professional online Geography tutors, she achieved the highest mark in England & Wales for Geography GCSE (AQA) and was awarded a gold medal by AQA, in addition to being made an honorary member of the National Geographic Society in recognition of the achievement. She also studied Geography at A-Level before going on to Cambridge University and later into lecturing and tutoring. 

Geography is a fantastic subject- there is so much more to it than meanders and ox-bow lakes! Ok, I might be a little biased – having done a GCSE, A Level, Degree, Masters, PhD, then lecturing and now tutoring in Geography!, but I believe that Geography is an excellent subject to study at GCSE level, A-Level and then beyond.

The task of choosing what subjects to take for your GCSEs can be an incredibly daunting one. I certainly found it very difficult as I was, what my teachers called, ‘a good all-rounder’; I was just as interested in the science lab as in English, or as in Maths classes or in the art studio. I think this was why I found choosing my GCSEs so tricky, I liked so many subjects, that I just didn’t know what to choose.

Because of its fascinating complexity, breadth, and requirement of both scientific analysis and theoretical insights, Geography was my subject of choice from GCSE through university and postgraduate study.

Geography continues to be an exciting field in light of global climate change, flooding from sea level rise, increasing urbanization, and an aging population, making Geographers and Environmental Scientists ever more in demand.

The geography GCSE courses (in most exam boards) offer a wide spectrum of modules that are extremely relevant to the contemporary world. Course content is mainly composed of physical geography (which includes modules such as climate change, coasts, glaciers, natural hazards, ecosystems, and environmental sustainability) and human geography (which includes modules such as globalisation, economic change, development, urban environments, and resource wasting). In addition to this, you will also get to participate in fun field trips as well as learn key research and cartography skills.

At A Level, Geography gives you the opportunity to explore these specialities at a greater level of depth, and a degree in Geography can give you the opportunity to study topics you may have never considered. While studying at the University of Cambridge, I had the chance to take modules on medical geography, biodiversity, and economic geography, along with courses on fashion and food geography.

You will also learn how to do both quantitative and qualitative analysis on most good degree courses, so that you can go out into the field and conduct your own research in your final year. Many good degree courses also allow you to travel. This year, while I taught in the Geography department at Queen Mary, University of London, my students went on international field trips to Boston, New Zealand, and India.

Students in their final year also have the option of going on to lots of exciting different career paths. Because of the contemporary importance of geographical issues, the ability for students to specialise in a wide array of topics and the skills acquired in analysis and research, Geography students are often attractive potential candidates to employers. Geography can go on to open up paths into some fascinating and varied industries; from environmental science to banking, from urban planning to tourism, or from financial analysis to coastal protection.

So if you are having some troubles on deciding on what GCSEs to pick, or if you are thinking of going to do a Geography degree or A Level – why not give Geography a go? With its fascinating range of contemporary issues you’ll be hard pressed to not find something that excites you. Plus its popularity with employers and excellent career options is an added boon. So – why Geography? Why on earth not?!!!!

A Geography Revision Guide

However, as it is such a broad subject it can be one that is difficult to revise for. Case study upon case study might leave you mind-boggled but hopefully this short revision guide will ensure that you are prepared and confident when revising for any geography exam! My 5 top geography revision tips:

  • Remember to link: Geography is a subject requiring you to understand the social, economic and environmental factors associated with a human or physical topic. Show that you are aware that geography is all about the relationship between the social and physical world. A volcano is not just a physical feature, it has an impact on the communities locally but also potentially worldwide. Human and physical geography do not have to exist separately, so draw links between concepts and topics.
  • Understand geography’s language: Geography is a subject rich in language, so get to know it. Tectonic plates do not move apart, they diverge. Some countries do not just have lots of people, they are densely populated. Once you are familiar with these terms, you will sound like a real geographer.
  • Draw diagrams: You can use diagrams for helping you remember important geographical concepts, whether it is a diagram of the hydrological cycle or a demographic traction model. If you use colorful pens, you’ll conform to the traditional geography stereotype of coloring while doing so. It’s okay to draw them in exam answers too- examiners love them!
  • Know your case studies: Geography is all about real world situations, so get to know your case studies. When discussing them in an exam answer, you should be specific because there is nothing worse than being vague- it indicates to the examiner that you do not know what you are talking about. That is definitely not what you want. Make sure that you can apply your theoretical knowledge to real-life situations, so you should memorize those dates and key facts. Flash cards and mind maps are extremely helpful here!
  • Practice, practice, and more practice! You can test your knowledge of geography by practising past papers. You must familiarize yourself with the paper’s layout and language in order to learn exam technique. Take note of how many marks the questions receive since this can give you a sense of how long and detailed your answer should be.

You may find these tips helpful when revising geography. Also, remember to keep things fun because it is such an exciting subject to become bored with! You can use your parents as pretend students and talk them through a particular topic. You never know, they might even learn something as a result. Best of luck.


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