Geography at Gordonstoun aims to help students understand the complex relationship between humans and the physical world. It not only hopes to foster a responsibility that students have to the environment in which they live but also to help them develop cross-curricular skills that have a range of uses in all subjects.
Geography in Year 9 is a course of themes aimed at widening students’ geographical experiences and interests as well as preparing them for the GCSE course undertaken in Years 10 and 11. The course consolidates and advances knowledge, skills and understanding gained prior to senior school entry and furthers the students’ geographical understanding of the world around them. The course is designed both to provide a foundation for studying Geography beyond Year 9 and also to be an interesting and topical course in its own right.
Students will study elements of human and physical geography at both local and global scales. The course is subdivided into three integral themes, one for each term of study in Year 9:
Term 1 - Challenge of weather and climate
Term 2 - Globalisation
Term 3 - Glaciation
Students will be engaged in a variety of learning situations in which they will develop literacy, numeracy, spatial and enquiry skills. There will be opportunities for investigative studies using information technology and fieldwork. Local fieldwork is carried out in the Spring term, with visits to local industry as part of the Globalisation unit, and sometimes in the Summer term, the focus of which is decided each year to make best use of the resources on hand.
The department is very well resourced. We have our own computer room consisting of ten PCs, iPads, a printer and a scanner. There is also a moveable bank of laptop computers for in-class student activities. All rooms have computer and interactive white board technology which allows dynamic lesson delivery and offers the opportunity for students to lead their own learning. The department is also fully equipped for fieldwork investigations.
Year 10 is the start of the new two-year GCSE course. The course covers a wide range of human and physical geographical studies. In each area of study students will consider the values and attitudes of decision makers, consider their own values and attitudes to the issues being studied and support their learning of ideas through the study of specific case studies. Students will build upon and use the geography learnt in Year 9 course. Students will continue to broaden and deepen their existing knowledge and apply themselves with a greater degree of independence.
The new GCSE specification consists of three Units:
Unit 1 - Living in the UK Today
Topics studied are UK landscapes, People of the UK and UK environmental challenges. Assessment is a one hour paper worth 30% of iGCSE.
Unit 2 - The World Around Us
Topics studied are Ecosystems of the Planet, People of the Planet and Environmental threats to our Planet. Assessment is a one hour paper worth 30% of iGCSE.
Unit 3 - Application of Geographical Skills
This unit consists of questions based on resources such as maps, graphs, tables of information, photographs, satellite images and written material, followed by structured questions relating to fieldwork we have carried out. The unit is assessed at the end of Year 11 in a 1½ hour paper which constitutes 40% of the course.
In terms of geographical skills both for field work and class work, students can expect to use traditional skills such as photographic and map interpretation but also a substantial amount of information technology, using subject specific programs, information sources such as general purpose CD-ROMs and the internet.
Studying Geography in the Sixth Form offers students a varied diet of both timeless and contemporary subject matter. In focusing on the connections between disparate places, ideas and processes, the subject offers a holistic view of the world and is highly relevant to the needs of society today. Straddling the humanities and sciences, Geography is well equipped to act as a link between diverse subjects such as Maths or Biology, Economics or Politics, and it is a popular A Level choice at Gordonstoun. Geography fosters a responsibility that students have to the environment they live in but also helps them develop cross-curricular skills that have a range of uses in all subjects and walks of life.
The new A Level course is an exciting mix of major Physical and Human Geography themes which can be studied in conjunction with Arts or Science A Levels. Topics include: Hazardous Earth, Changing Places, Glaciation and Disease dilemmas in Year 1; Earth’s life support systems, Global migration and Power and borders in Year 2; in addition to the content-based assessment in both years there is also an assessment of core geographical skills and fieldwork experience - fieldwork will therefore play an important part in the course and visits to local areas, such as the Moray coast and the Cairngorms National Park, are a key feature of the course. There is also a personal investigation to complete which is based on an area which has been studied during the A Level course.
Many students do go on to study Geography at degree level and graduates are welcomed by a wide range of employers e.g. law, accountancy, surveying and planning or personnel management. Because of the variety of skills and knowledge acquired studying Geography, “geographers are especially successful at obtaining jobs in business, finance, marketing, personnel and administration”. (Royal Geographical Society industry survey).