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Geography A Level at PETROC

Course description

This is a broad Geography course that will help you make sense of what is happening in the world today. The content will inspire and develop your geographical understanding, to engage critically with real world issues and places. You will grow as an independent thinker and as an informed and engaged citizen, who understands the role and importance of geography as a key discipline.

Geography makes use of text books, journals and up-to-date newspaper articles. Increasingly current resources are sourced from the web. Students have excellent access to IT, all classrooms have fully interactive smartboards and trolleys of wireless laptops which allow us to access the internet and Geography VLE website whenever we need to.

The Geography VLE website is extremely well resourced with lots of interactive revision aids, past exam papers and mark schemes and interactive software that you can access from college or home.

Course content

Year 1 (AS)

  • Tectonic Processes and Hazards - a key concept for you because earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis represent a significant risk in some parts of the world, especially where there are high population density and low levels of development.
  • Coastal Landscapes and Change - helps you understand this key physical landscape because it is threatened by physical processes and human activity, and there is a need for management of these areas both inside and outside the UK. This will involve completing a 1-day fieldwork enquiry into a coastal issue in the local area. 
  • Globalisation - As globalisation and global interdependence continue to accelerate it causes opportunities for businesses and people but also results in inequalities. By recognising these tensions you will be able to evaluate solutions. 
  • Diverse Places - Putting North Devon into a global context and studying how it is influenced by people, capital, information and resources. This will involve completing a 1-day fieldwork enquiry into the contrasting diversity of a rural and urban area.

Year 2 (A2)

  • The Water Cycle and Water Insecurity - This is fundamental to supporting life and operates at a variety of scales. You will study the physical processes control the circulation of water and gain a knowledge of the global issue of water insecurity and approaches to managing water supply.
  • The Carbon Cycle and Energy Security - You will see how physical processes move carbon from stores on the land, ocean and atmosphere and how the reliance on fossil fuels has created significant changes to these stores. You will be able to evaluate a variety of adaptation and mitigation strategies on a local and global scale. 
  • Superpowers - You are affected by the world's Superpowers because they have a very significant impact on the global economy, politics and the environment. These powers are frequently contested and this has global impacts. 
  • Migration, Identity and Sovereignty - Globalisation involves the movements of capital, goods and people. You will determine the environmental, social and economic impacts both internationally and locally. 

A level - all three core themes, all the geographical skills, and all fieldwork requirements relating to both physical and human themes
1. Water and carbon cycles - understanding how water 

and carbon are cycled between the land, oceans and atmosphere. Forests, soils, oceans and the atmosphere all store carbon and yet they are threatened and altered by human activity.
2. Landscape systems - integrated study of earth surface processes, landforms and resultant landscapes through coasts, deserts or glacial landscapes.
3. Global Systems and Global Governance - Within global systems you will study a range of topics that investigate the environmental, political, legal, economic, financial and cultural systems that help to make and re-make the world. Within this topic you will also study the rules and laws that humans use to control these systems through global governance. 

Your competence in using geographical skills will be developed throughout your studies. These will be introduced to a roughly equal balance of quantitative and qualitative across all topics. e.g. being able to interpret graphs and maps and identify key trends and patterns.

During your A level studies you will undertake a minimum of 2 days fieldwork each year, across human and physical geography topics. For the A level you will complete an investigation that will lead to a 4000 word coursework document that forms 20% of your overall mark.

Entry requirements

To be accepted onto a two-year A Level programme, all entrants must hold at least a grade 5 in GCSE Maths and a grade 5 in GCSE English Language, as well as at least 3 other GCSEs at grade C or above. Certain subjects require a minimum of GCSE grade B; these are detailed in this prospectus and on the Petroc website.
Continuation onto Year 2 of the A2 programme will be dependent on achieving at least a grade D at AS in the subjects being continued to A2.


At AS level there will be 2 exams - your fieldwork will be assessed within the exam. 
Physical Geography - 50% of total AS grade
Human Geography - 50% of total AS grade 

At A level there will be 3 exams 
Physical Geography - 30% of A level grade 
Human Geography - 30% of A level grade 
Synoptic Resource Paper - 20% of A level grade
Independent investigation - 3-4000 word report worth 20% of A level grade

With the new specification the marks gained in AS are not carried forward to the overall A level grade. All material covered for the A level will be examined at the end of the 2 year course.

In addition we will set you regular homework and end of topic tests to provide you, your teacher and your parents or guardians with feedback on your progress. We also give you access to exam papers and mark schemes and set you mock exams before the real thing. Extra revision classes are also provided to ensure that you are fully prepared for your exams.

Future opportunities

Geography is a key A level subject and an excellent foundation subject for many degree courses in both the sciences and humanities as it provides many opportunities for you to develop your skills and problem solving ability. Most geography degree students specialise in particular aspects of the subject. You could also progress onto a Foundation Degree at Petroc for example Environmental Management. 

Careers can be found in the following areas: 
Environment and sustainability - conservation work, environmental health work, environmental consulting
Society - teaching, campaigning, marketing 
Business World - law, economic advising, insurance
Development and Global Issues - aid work, diplomat, human rights
Geographical Techniques - GIS specialism, surveying
Settlement - planning, estate agents
Travel, Tourism, Leisure and Culture - travel writing, travel agents

Further information

Q. Will there be much homework?
A. Compulsory homework questions are set each week to give the students preparation in the style of the examinations they will encounter. Students are expected to spend at least two hours per week outside class to enable them to succeed. 

Q. Will there be any trips?
A. The AS students will have two day trips. The A2 students will undertake fieldwork to support their investigations and as part of the coasts module that they study. All students will have the option to take part on an international field trip - in 2016 this trip is going to Iceland.

Q. I have already studied coasts at GCSE, will it be boring?
A. Students find that GCSE gives them a general understanding of topics but this is rapidly built upon and developed and allows students to become more questioning of facts that they previously took for granted. 

Q. Is there any coursework?
A. There is 20% coursework for A level Geography, although it is not part of the marks on the AS level course. 

Q. What subjects does Geography go well with?
A. Geography fits well with a wide range of both science and humanities subjects. If you are interested in physical geography you may study geography alongside biology, chemistry, physics, maths or environmental studies. If you are more interested in the human geography elements you may study geography alongside history, sociology or economics and business.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact PETROC directly.

Last updated date: 17 February 2017

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