16-18 Courses, 16-18: A Levels

Geography (A Level)

Course Overview

Entry requirements

GCSE Average Points Score: 4.3, Grade 5 English Language GCSE, Grade 5 Maths GCSE, GCSE Science 4

Course information

The importance of studying Geography at A Level

The Russell Group of universities has recognised A Level Geography as one of their preferred facilitating subjects, which supports an application into a wide range of undergraduate courses. Geography graduates are, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency's 'Destination of Leavers from Higher Education' survey, less likely to be unemployed after their degree course than those studying almost any other subject.

The A Level course

Geography is a current and relevant subject. Studying Geography helps us to understand many of the issues we face in Britain and globally, such as how we might respond to the impact of global warming and climate change as it affects countries and regions, food security, the degradation of land and soils from over-use and misuse, the spread of disease, the causes and consequences of migration, and the impacts of economic change on places and communities. It is the new research undertaken by geographers that is informing the debate about these challenges and helping us to navigate through the world's geographically complex people, places and environments.

The importance of transferrable skills is embedded within the scheme of work. Geography students are numerate; literate; good team workers; can think analytically and critically; have cultural agility; are socially and environmentally aware; and are creative.

Geographers have the ability to integrate ideas effectively, problem solve, are highly computer literate and have wider experience due to their fieldwork experiences.

Statistical skills such as standard deviation, spearman's rank and chai squared analysis are all taught on the course. The majority of students incorporate statistical skills into their NEA projects enabling critical analysis and access to higher grades.

What you can expect to study - first year units include:

Water and carbon cycle (core unit)

  • The hydrological
  • The carbon cycle
  • Global climate change (global warming) and life on Earth
  • Tropical rainforest (such as the Amazonian & Indonesian rainforests)
  • Case study of a river catchment of the River Easan (Isle of Arran fieldtrip) at a local scale to illustrate and analyse key themes, engage with field data and consider the impact of precipitation upon drainage basin stores and transfers and implications for sustainable water supply and/or flooding.
  • Case study of the river catchment area of the Ganges Bangladesh as a non-UK river catchment

Changing places (core unit)

  • The nature and importance of place
  • Changing places - relationships, connections, meaning and representation
  • Relationships and connections
  • Meaning and representation
  • Local place study of Havering
  • Contrasting place study exploring the developing character of a contrasting and distant place.

Landscape systems: Coastal systems and landscapes (core unit)

  • Coasts as natural systems
  • Systems and processes
  • Coastal landscape development
  • Coastal Management
  • Case studies of Canvey Island and the Holderness Coastline as UK coastal environments at a local scale to engage with processes and the challenges of sustainable management.
  • Case study of the Sundarbans, Bangladesh as a contrasting landscape beyond the UK.

What you can expect to study - second year units include:

  • Global systems and Global governance (core unit)
  • Hazards
  • Population and the Environment

Fieldwork is a compulsory part of the course. All students have to submit a form, signed by the college, to confirm that they have completed 4 days of fieldwork or they will not be eligible to enter the exam.

The college will look to run a compulsory 4-day residential trip primarily to meet this requirement and to set up and collect field data for the non-exam assessment (NEA) investigation (but also in support of subject topics). There is a cost requirement with this trip (usually around £400, all-inclusive). This will be collected in instalments during the first study year, with the trip commencing April/May. (If the student is usually funded for school meals/trips the college may cover the trip cost. Please contact the student finance team or ask your subject teacher for details).

Fieldtrip Details

The Geography fieldtrip to the Lochranza Outdoor Education and Activity Centre https://www.lochranzacentre.co.uk/ involves a residential stay to conduct geography fieldwork on the Isle of Arran, Scotland. The trip is primarily to set up and collect field data for the NEA investigation but also in support of Core topics 3.1.1 Water and Carbon cycles, 3.1.3 Coastal systems and landscapes and in support of Core topic 3.2.2 Changing places. 

The NEA investigation is an independent investigation covering the majority of the assessment for assessment objective 3. (AO3 - relevant methods and techniques to: investigate questions and issues, interpret, analyse and evaluate data and resources, and communicate findings). The NEA investigation constitutes 20% of the final course mark (and represents the assessed coursework element for geography). 

This trip represents an excellent opportunity for A Level Geography students to engage with physical and human landscapes and to use the study of the River Easan drainage basin as a case study of a water cycle (river catchment) environment at a local scale. The trip will also give the opportunity to engage with field data and challenges represented in sustainable management and will help to reinforce what is being learnt in class, with the unit Coastal systems and landscapes.  

The fieldwork experience will help students to prepare and refine their methodology and undertake data collection for their independent geography fieldwork investigations (which form 20% of the total A Level final mark). Students will undertake their independent investigations between July-January with some time put aside in class following the trip for the commencement and completion of this. 


The Physical Geography component will be assessed in a two and a half hour written exam, as will the Human Geography component. These exams will be sat at the end of the second year of the course. Each exam will be worth 40% of the final mark. Students will also complete a Geography Fieldwork investigation (Non-Exam Assessment NEA) of 4,000 words (suggested word limit), which will be assessed by teachers and will account for 20% of the final mark.

Suggested Resources

Course book (loaned from the College library)  

AQA A-level Geography, Fourth Edition Paperback, Hodder Education pub. 29 Apr 2016 by Ian Whittaker Et. Al. IBSN 978-1-4718-5869-7

To explore the specification further, please use the following link:




  • How you are assessed

    The Physical Geography component will be assessed in a two and a half hour written exam, as will the Human Geography component. These exams will be sat at the end of the second year of the course. Each exam will be worth 40% of the final mark. Stud

  • Why study at NCC?


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What Can This Course Lead To

Progress to university, further study, a higher level apprenticeship or employment.

Geography is a facilitating subject for Russell Group universities. Choosing Geography will leave open a wide range of options for university courses in the Humanities, Arts and Sciences. Students go on to study Geography or related degrees such as environmental science, geology and urban planning. Geography graduates have one of the highest rates of graduate employment with careers including transport planning, environmental consultancy and geography teaching. Other students have gone on to internships, apprenticeships or direct into employment.

Life At NCC

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Facilities for Students

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Financial Support

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