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Geography at Gateshead College

Course description

Geography is concerned with an understanding of the real world and it best suits students who are observant, are interested in what is happening around them, enjoy active thought and problem-solving, and like to identify and explain patterns.

The subject touches on aspects of Biology,  Chemistry , Physics, History, Sociology, Politics, Mathematics as well as graphical skills and IT, but it is most important that you are interested in real world events.

Having travelled is useful – but so is regular reading of newspapers and watching news and the right television programmes.

Successful students need a good memory but, more importantly, they must be able to see the implications and significance of the material they are using. Answers demand analysis as well as description.

Examples of concepts and questions that will be addressed in Geography include:

  • With reference to examples, discuss the effectiveness of hazard management schemes in areas where earthquakes have taken place
  • 'Development and sustainability are incompatible goals.' Discuss.
  • 'Urban management issues are the same across the world.' Do you agree?
  • Critically evaluate the success of management schemes in fragile environments.

Course content

What does the AS consist of?

We follow the AQA syllabus. The AS specification bridges the gap between GCSE and A level, with structured shorter answer questions along with some extended writing. The main difference is that you are asked to analyse and question data more extensively than at GCSE.

There are two core (compulsory) sections:

  • 'Rivers, floods and management' and
  • 'Population change'

In addition to these we study

  • one further physical topic on Coasts and coastal management
  • one human topic on Food Issues which looks at associated problems of feeding a growing population.

The second of the two papers set in June of the Lower Sixth year requires fieldwork, and involves a greater emphasis on geographic skills.


What does the A2 consist of?

The A2 incorporates longer-answer questions and also essay writing – in which you must interpret a question, plan a relevant answer and include theory and detailed case studies.

  • Unit 3 is called 'Contemporary Geographical Issues and involves a 2-and-a-half hour written examination (60% of the A2 award). Students study 4 topics including at least one human and one physical; the choice is flexible and will reflect the interests of the groups.

Optional physical topics:

  • Plate tectonics and associated hazards
  • Weather and climate and associated hazards
  • Ecosystems: change and challenge
  • Optional Human topics
  • World cities
  • Development and globalization
  • Contemporary conflicts and challenges

Unit 4 is a 1-and-a-half hour written examination paper (40% of the A2 Award) that involves questions based on advance-released data supplied by the board (Unit 4B).

Will there be any fieldwork?

Yes – fieldwork is an important part of Geography: it brings the subject to life and gives students a chance to develop key skills that are tested both at AS and A2. However there isn’t a coursework component or fieldwork project to be handed in for examination - your fieldwork expertise is tested in paper two. 

There will be two compulsory field trips: one in March of the AS year and a second in October of year 2.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of four GCSEs A* to C
  • An equivalent Level 2 qualification
  • Diploma Level 2

Future opportunities

Geography at A level and at University is a valued qualification attracting such diverse employers as Accountancy firms to Media and Travel & Tourism.

The subject is valued not just because it increases knowledge of the world but also because it instils a wide range of skills. Geography teaches you to identify patterns in data, within maps and in graphs.

You learn how to analyse, express and communicate using numerical data and how to apply statistical techniques to test the reliability of theories.

Essay writing becomes an increasingly important part of the course as the A2 progresses. These skills are required in almost all employment.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 12 April 2016

Key information


  • More information
    • Gateshead College's Baltic Campus is located on the Gateshead quayside, just minutes from Newcastle City Centre and its attractions.

      The College is situated behind the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and The Sage Gateshead.

      The College has its own car park, but at busy times alternative parking is available nearby.

      There is a charge for parking. Students can apply for a permit to allow free parking during study time.