Studying A level geography at The Perse provides an opportunity to work and think independently, supported by contemporary, relevant, interesting and creative teachers. We strongly believe that fieldwork is an essential component of the subject. Reading around the discipline forms a core part of the learning and helps students build skills ready for life at university or in further study.
At Sixth Form and beyond, geography is highly valued by universities and employers as a broad-ranging and real-world subject which exercises a wide range of skills. Students have ample opportunity to develop literacy skills such as critical assessment, argument and essay writing, debating and communication, numeracy skills such as the use of graphs and statistics, digital skills such as the use of GIS and communications skills of research, analysis and presentation.
See the Geographical Association for more detail about the role of geography and our ‘what’s on’ guide for a one page overview of the opportunities we provide to enthuse students about the subject.
- Learning journey - Lower Sixth
Students study a mixture of both human and physical geography. They study glaciated environments and earth’s life support systems on the physical side and they investigate the geography of place, migration and geopolitics on the human side. At the end of the year they do some investigate fieldwork, through a compulsory residential fieldtrip to Birmingham and Snowdonia where we explore a mixture of fieldwork techniques in contrasting environments.
- Learning journey - Upper Sixth
The major topics are macro scale geography; an exploration into the causes, impacts and management of climate change, as well as an insight into hazardous earth and the management of large scale natural disasters. These then link back to material covered in the Lower Sixth; for example, how climate change has influenced migration and caused climate change refugees or how tectonics hazards have influenced people’s sense of place.
- Providing stretch
For students who love learning in the outdoors, be it in cities or the countryside, geography A level is an obvious choice. During the sixth form course students take part in a residential trip to Birmingham and Snowdonia as well as a fieldtrip in to London’s Brick Lane.
The department also runs a series of evening trips to lectures run by the local Geographical Association in and around Cambridge. This includes an opportunity to participate in or attend the GA’s annual Geog Meet where, in 2019, Perse students presented on topics such as conflict in the South China Sea and resolving geopolitical disputes in Mali.
We encourage wide reading to stimulate intellectual curiosity and develop new interests, understanding and skills. Geography students are encouraged to consider delving into Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, James Lovelock’s Gaia and Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us , among other works.
The department supports the Missing Maps programme. This involves students in all age groups contributing to open source mapping software and helping map previously unmapped parts of the planet. In turn, non-Government organisations, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Clinton Health Foundation use these maps to facilitate getting aid supplies to people in need on the ground. This can be in the form of emergency aid to areas suffering in the aftermath of natural hazards or those that where mapping will increase future resilience. Missing Maps runs in the school’s ICT suites after school and students can continue contributing at home. Older and keener students have been trained to assist new mappers. The school was the first in the country to establish such a programme.
- Beyond the classroom
Eminent geographers give lunchtime lectures as part of our 42 society programme of inspiring lunchtime talks. For example volcanologist Dr Mel Rogers gave a fascinating lecture on the on endlessly complex reasons why volcanoes erupt: ‘Volcano – will it blow or will it flow: why volcanoes behave in such different ways’, followed by a workshop for sixth form geographers. Read former student Izzy Picton-Turbervill’s report.
G6 – our Sixth Form Geography Society – provides a vibrant student-led forum for discussion and debate about current affairs and includes article discussion, interviews, debates, reading and more. We run a geography debating competition for all members of the Sixth Form to grapple with geographical material that is not on the specification. There is a knock-out competition for the Crabtree Memorial trophy.
Geography Ambassadors are sixth form geographers who help teach lower school classes and brush up on their skills at the same time. Some become mentors to younger students and the most confident have even taught segments of lessons with geography staff.
Upper Sixth geographers participate in a mock UN Climate conference which stimulates the challenges of reaching global agreements over climate priorities.
- Geography at university
We support students who wish to apply for geography at university through a range of specially arranged activities including mock interviews, seminars, lectures and study-day visits. The University Geography Group meets weekly during the Michaelmas term for students to share their reading, consider journal articles and discuss geography in the news. The department also helps with applications for related disciplines including geology, earth sciences or environmental studies.