Please note that this subject is in the process of being reformed for first teaching in September 2016. The information on this sheet reflects what we know about the new course at the time of going to print.

What is the course about?

Here at Esher College we firmly believe that geography is truly one of the most exciting, cutting edge and relevant subjects to study in today’s ever changing world. In 2015 it was referred to by The Guardian newspaper as ‘the must have topic at A Level’.

Issues that are currently in the news form a central focus to learning and you will be encouraged to deepen your understanding by making connections between different aspects of the subject. The new Pearson syllabus offers an issues based approach to studying geography, enabling you to explore and evaluate contemporary geographical questions and issues such as water insecurity and climate change. You will be given the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of physical and human geography, the complexity of people and the environment, and to become critical, reflective and independent learners. Geographical skills are developed and there are two compulsory fieldwork days each year.

What will I study in the first year?

The first year is split between Dynamic Landscapes and Dynamic Places. Dynamic landscapes comprises Tectonic Processes and Hazards and Coastal Landscapes. Although many of you will have studied these topics at GCSE, the A Level syllabus, whilst deepening your understanding, also focuses on disaster management and your ability to critically assess the effectiveness of a variety of management strategies including statistical analysis. Dynamic Places examines Globalisation and its impacts and consequences, and possible responses to it, in addition to how it shapes places. Here you will use two case studies to examine how and why places vary and you will critically assess attempts at regeneration and rebranding. There will be two fieldwork days at a local fieldwork centre (please note there will be a cost of approximately £120 for these days).

What will I study in the second year?

The second year comprises Physical Systems and Sustainability together with Human Systems and Geopolitics. Physical Systems includes the hydrological and carbon cycles, water and energy insecurity – key issues in today’s world. Human Systems explores the impacts and sphere of influence of global superpowers, in addition to the Global Development and Connections topic. This looks at Health, Human Rights and Intervention, including conflict and aid, and how these issues can be resolved. You will also develop the skills needed to complete the Issues Evaluation Paper and two more fieldwork days will feed into your Independent Investigation.

How is the course assessed?

80% of the marks are for three exams of 2 hours 15 minutes each. 20% of the marks are for an independant investigation of 3,000-4,000 words.

What skills will I need and develop in this course?

You will develop a variety of investigative, cartographic, graphical, ICT and statistical skills, through both fieldwork and assignment activities. You will develop a critical awareness of the appropriateness and limitations of different skills and resources and be able to apply them in an increasingly independent way. Wider skills will include undertaking research, analysis and teamwork on projects. You will be encouraged to keep up to date with current affairs by reading journals such as Geography Review.


​What can the course lead to in terms of higher education and future careers?

This subject is considered a competitive one in terms of university entrance. It attracts a lot of applicants for university as it combines the academic, creative and analytical skills which are so valued in many careers. Geography related jobs include cartography, surveying, environmental consultant, GIS officer and teaching. However, the transferability of geographic knowledge and skills make it one of the most sought after qualifications for many other careers such as international aid, logistics and distribution, finance, tourism and transport. Employers include local government; the Civil Service; the armed forces; Ministry of Defence; police service; private companies; environmental consultancies and protection agencies; utility companies; charities; information systems organisations.

Entry Requirements

​What are the formal entry requirements for this course?

In addition to the general entry criteria that the College requires, you will also need to achieve at least a Grade 4 in both GCSE English Language and GCSE Mathematics. If you are taking GCSE Geography you need to have at least a C grade and preferably higher. However it is possible to take Geography without having studied it at GCSE, providing you have a strong interest and enthusiasm for the subject.

Extra Support

​What extra support / enrichment activities are on offer?

In the first year there are two fieldwork days exploring human and physical geography with a further two days fieldwork in the second year. In recent years, there has also been a residential field trip to the Naples Bay area of Italy, which includes exploration of Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum. We are looking forward to exploring new opportunities for residential fieldwork in the future.

Subject combination advice

​Subject combination advice:

Geography is recognised as both a Science and an Arts A Level and therefore complements a wide variety of subjects. Geography has been defined amongst the key facilitating subjects in a guide compiled by the Russell Group of 20 leading UK universities.