GCSE Geography

Geography is an optional GCSE at the Fernwood School. We believe it is a vital subject for making sense of the world we live in today. Geography is one of the most relevant subjects for our time. We want to enable students to become more aware of the environmental, social, political, and cultural issues facing our ever changing globally interdependent world.

The AQA GCSE Geography builds on the knowledge and skills already developed in KS3. The qualification consists of six major units that cover both the natural parts of our planet and how it works, along with aspects of human society and how we interact with one another and our planet. Alongside these six units, students also learn how to conduct geographical enquiries and the course involves two fieldwork days (one in the Peak District National Park) looking at geographical aspects and issues out in the real world.

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Physical Geography

  • Challenge of Natural Hazards
  • The Living World
  • Physical Landscapes of the UK

The physical geography half of the course covers challenges of natural hazards and how planet earth can create dangerous natural events. Students examine earthquakes, volcanoes, and tropical storms. Alongside this, GCSE geographers will also look at the relevant ways that our planet’s climate has changed and the wider impacts of this on society today and in the future. The second of our physical geography units looks at how largescale ecosystems provide both challenges and opportunities for people living there, with a particular focus on cold environments such as polar and arctic regions. The final part of the physical geography section looks at the physical landscapes of the UK with a focus on river and coastal landscapes and how physical processes and human interactions can shape our land.


Human Geography

  • Urban Issues and Challenges
  • Changing Economic World
  • Challenge of Resource Management

The other half of the course focusses on human geography. Students will learn about how and why our world is becoming more urbanised, with a particular focus on a world city in a developing country. In the UK, students will look at why there has been industrial change then the need for regeneration how this has changed the physical and economical landscapes of all UK cities. After focussing on our increasing urban world, students will study our changing economic world and acquire an understanding of global development. Students will learn about the development gap and consider how the lives lived by people all over the world can be radically different to each other. The final aspect of the human geography part of the course focusses on the increasing challenge of managing Earth’s natural resources of to provide for increasing populations environmental challenges both in the UK and across our world. At Fernwood, students focus on the challenge of water management and will look at different scales of water management schemes.

Throughout your lessons you will develop the skills and framework to make sense of our planet’s different features and a variety of scales and the interactions between our human and physical world. Our aim is that through taking GCSE geography, students will leave feeling equipped with the confidence and skills necessary to make sense of world beyond Fernwood and make a positive impact to our wider society.

Routes to employment

Studying Geography enables students to develop a wide range of transferable skills including independent thinking, investigation, analytical and presentation skills, critical thinking, the ability to think about moral and ethical issues, team work, communication, project management and problem solving.

Students who have studied Geography go on to study a wide range of courses at college, sixth forms and universities within both the Arts and Sciences. For instance the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) states that for students who have studied Geography at A level and who are “working towards a future course in medicine or veterinary medicine then geography is a good choice to give your A Level options the breadth that universities seek, as you will gain a clear understanding of how the environment affects health and survival of people, animals and ecosystems as well as enhancing your skills of writing essays and extended reports”. According to the RGS, “in a recent analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) in 2018 placed Geography among the top subjects for graduate earnings”.

Students who have studied Geography have access to a very diverse range of careers and employment opportunities working in a variety of environments – such as working for central & local government in Town & Country Planning or Policy making, or for Environment Agency, the HM Armed Forces, careers in business, engineering, development and global issues, and in the travel & tourism industry, to name but a few.

If you have any further questions, please speak to your Geography teacher.


Is there setting in the GCSE geography groups?

There is no setting in the GCSE groups. There is no foundation or higher paper, only one paper that everyone sits.

How much homework is there?

You will receive homework once a week from your class teacher. These will mostly consist of producing revision resources or practicing examination questions.

Is there a lot of writing?

Yes there is a lot of writing, but remember all GCSE’s have a significant amount of writing. The structure of the exam questions are similar to the feed forwards and assessments you have done at KS3. You won’t be making lots of notes in lessons, as lessons are focused around discussion points and understanding key concepts.

Are there any trips?

Yes! You will go on two fieldtrips outside of school. One will be a river study in the beautiful Peak District – if you’re lucky we might buy you an ice cream when you’re there. The second trip will be looking at a city in the Midlands and the history and impacts of urban regeneration there. We haven’t decide the final destination for this trip yet.

I’m stuck between geography and history. Which one should take?

Choose the subject you enjoy more, not the one you think is easier. It is more likely you will achieve a better grade if you enjoy the lessons.


The Fernwood School
Goodwood Road, Wollaton
Nottingham, NG8 2FT

0115 9286326