Aim of the course
A level geography provides an opportunity to work and think independently. We strongly believe fieldwork is an essential component of the subject as reading around the discipline forms a core part of the learning and helps students build skills ready for life at university and beyond.
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.
Students study a mixture of human and physical geography throughout the Lower Sixth – glaciated environments and Earth’s life support systems on the physical side and the geographies of place and space, migration and geopolitics on the human side.
Early in the Lower Sixth, students participate in urban fieldwork in London, culminating in a curry evening on Brick Lane. At the end of the year, students complete some investigative fieldwork through a compulsory three-day residential field trip to Birmingham and Snowdonia where they explore a mixture of fieldwork techniques in contrasting environments. This is the launchpad for students to start exploring an issue of their choosing in their non-examined assessment/independent investigation.
In the Upper Sixth, students are given the opportunity to look at the biggest and most complex issues of our generation.
Topics include 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. Students grapple with the complicated interplay of the physical processes in action, the decision-making at a variety of spatial scales, the geopolitics and more. This gives students the tools to be able to write extensively, substantiate their arguments and give well-reasoned conclusions.
The two topics are then linked back to material covered in the Lower Sixth, including how climate change has influenced migration and caused climate change refugees. We also look at how tectonics hazards have influenced people’s sense of place.
For students who love learning in the outdoors, be it in cities or the countryside, geography A level is an obvious choice. As well as the residential trip to Birmingham and Snowdonia and Brick Lane field trip, students also conduct their own fieldwork, which can be done locally or even in far-flung destinations such as Singapore and Switzerland.
The department runs a series of evening trips to lectures run by the local Geographical Association (GA) and the University of Cambridge. This includes an opportunity to participate in or attend the GA’s annual GeogMeet. In previous years, Perse students have presented on topics such as conflict in the South China Sea, resolving geopolitical disputes in Mali and climate refugees in Kiribati.
We encourage wide reading to stimulate intellectual curiosity and develop new interests, understanding and skills. The department is stocked with its own geography library and students have access to extensive digital materials.
Sixth Form geographers participate in an annual debating competition; a fiercely competitive knock-out competition with opportunities to enrich their learning beyond the curriculum and hone their evaluative skills.
At the end of the Upper Sixth, students sit three examinations: Physical systems, Human interactions and Geographical Debates. These combine a mixture of resource response questions, short responses and lengthier essay based questions.
Students submit their non-examined assessment (20% of A level geography) in the Michaelmas term of Upper Sixth, having collected data over the summer.