“Geography explains the past, illuminates the present and prepares us for the future. What could be more important than that?” – Michael Palin

Geography helps us to explore and understand space and place – recognising the great differences in cultures, political systems, economies, landscapes and environments across the world, and exploring the links between them. Geography also provides an ideal framework for connecting and bringing together other fields of knowledge. Geography is, in the broadest sense, an education for life and for living. Learning through geography – whether gained through formal learning or experientially through travel, fieldwork and expeditions – helps us all to be more socially and environmentally sensitive, better informed, and more responsible as people in the community.

Geography occupies a distinctive place in the world of learning, offering an integrated study of the complex relationships between people, places and the environment. Enhanced empathy and insight, an ability to work responsibly and ethically and a flexible and creative approach to problem solving are all attributes which geography students can expect to develop. Studying geography gives students an opportunity to develop a wide range of skills, some subject-specific, and others more general. Together, these skills provide a strong basis for employability, lifelong learning and making a positive difference in the world. Students learn ‘through’ geography in addition to learning ‘about’ geography.

Key information:

Curriculum Progression

Key Stage 3

By the end of KS3, Magnus students will have a strong foundation of the most important geographical concepts giving them a foundation to build on moving up the school. Students will have learning focus on nine key themes which are processes, perspective, pattern, interaction, change, sustainability, scale, place and observation. These key themes will be present throughout KS3 and then into KS4 and will provide the support for the geographical knowledge to be built onto. Geographical knowledge will range from very simple but important knowledge such as the continents and oceans and the difference between the British Isles, The United Kingdom and Great Britain, up to more complex ideas based and place and space and conflict. The students will experience a variety of both physical and human topics that will help them become more aware of the world around them and how they fit into it. During KS3, they will also practice a range of skills including describing and explaining, data analysis and evaluation when they reach year 9. All of these skills will set students up well for GCSE geography which builds on many of these concepts.

Key Stage 4 (GCSE)

The GCSE geography course at Magnus Academy has a good mix of topics including urban issues, world development, extreme environments, rivers, and hazards. The course gives students the chance to get to grips with some of the big issues which affect our world, and understand the social, economic and physical forces and processes which shape and change our world. GCSE geography is designed to allow a large number of topics to be studied and to provide an insight into a variety of the most important and relevant geographical issues. The course is called ‘Geography for Enquiring Minds’ so all the topics have an enquiry theme. The course is the split into Physical and Human geography with a range of topics in each section.

Within physical geography, students will explore themes of:

  • Global Hazards including both tectonic and climatic hazards
  • Climate Change focusing on the causes and effects
  • Distinctive Landscapes which includes rivers and coasts and how they are formed and managed by humans
  • Sustaining Ecosystems with particular focus on the tropical rainforest and Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems.

Within human geography, students will explore the themes of:

  • Urban Futures focusing on how urban areas have developed and changed over the last century and how they will change in the future with a specific focus on Birmingham and Rio de Janeiro
  • Dynamic Development which focuses on how countries have developed and why others have not focusing on Zambia
  • UK in the 21st Century which explores the UK and how the culture, demographics and many other aspects of life have change over the last century
  • Resource Reliance which explores whether the planet can sustain the growth in population and possible ways to feed nearly 10 billion people by 2100.

Across both physical and human geography, students will develop key skills such as evaluation, data analysis and critical thinking.

Key Stage 5

Our A Level geography qualification has been designed to help students understand develop their knowledge of locations, places, processes and environments, at all geographical scales from local to global across the specification as a whole. Students will also develop an in-depth understanding of the selected core and non-core processes in physical and human geography at a range of temporal and spatial scales, and learn about the concepts which illuminate their significance in a range of locational contexts. By the end of the course, they will be able to recognise and analyse the complexity of people–environment interactions at all geographical scales, and appreciate how these underpin understanding of some of the key issues facing the world today. Students will develop their understanding of, and ability to apply, the concepts of place, space, scale and environment, including developing a more nuanced understanding of these concepts. They will also gain understanding of specialised concepts relevant to the core and non-core content. These must include the concepts of causality, systems, equilibrium, feedback, inequality, representation, identity, globalisation, interdependence, mitigation and adaptation, sustainability, risk, resilience and thresholds. Students will improve their understanding of the ways in which values, attitudes and circumstances have an impact on the relationships between people, place and environment, and develop the knowledge and ability to engage, as citizens, with the questions and issues arising from this. They will become confident and competent in selecting, using and evaluating a range of quantitative and qualitative skills and approaches, (including observing, collecting and analysing geo-located data) and applying them as an integral part of their studies

In addition to the six topics covered at A Level, students will also complete a Non-Examined Assessment or NEA. This NEA is based on an area of the specification that the student is interested in researching further. For A Level Geography students to investigate independently, they need to be able to pose geographical questions that are worth investigating. They then need to pursue their questions as part of their own appropriate sequence of enquiry. This should draw on their own and others’ data, and wider reading, so that a student can research, analyse, summarise and contextualise their findings, while taking into account the specific circumstances of their investigation. The independent investigation is a unique opportunity for geography students, requiring their application of geographical knowledge and understanding to the context of a real-world location. Through this, they will develop their skills in careful observation and both primary and secondary data collection. Their experience of the ‘messy’ world beyond the textbook challenges them to appreciate and make sense of geographical complexity and to ‘think like a geographer’.