Subject Information - Geography

National 4/5

Head of Department: Ms Catriona Fletcher

Course Progression: Geography

Learning and teaching in Geography encourages pupils to develop a sense of place, both local and global. Through a variety of areal contexts, Geography helps to cultivate an understanding of the physical and human processes which shape our world and make different places distinctive.

The development of geographical knowledge will help to prepare pupils for the 21st century in a world where population growth, rapid development, global environmental change, social and economic inequality, and resource depletion pose serious challenges for the planet.

Increasing international travel serves to illustrate the interconnected nature of the world and associated globalisation and economic dependence. Understanding of such issues and responsibilities, together with the need for the sustainable management of resources and landscapes, are necessary for citizens and employees of the future, and are central to Geography.

Learning and Teaching

All geography courses employ a range of learning and teaching resources and seek to develop transferable skills such as literacy, numeracy, presentation skills, ICT, problem solving and team work.

Fieldwork activities, ranging from local visits to foreign excursions, are integrated into all courses.
Regular homework will involve one or more of the following activities:

  • completion of notes, diagrams or questions from course textbooks.
  • more formal written homework assignments
  • revision for Unit Assessments as required
  • on-going learning of classwork
  • writing up fieldwork reports.

 

Geography (S3/S4) National 4/5

Course Details

The National 4/5 Geography course has wide appeal. It covers a range of themes and case studies from different locations relating to both Human and Physical Geography. Physical Geography is about the natural world: how landscapes evolve, the Earth's atmosphere and the hydrological cycle. Human Geography is about people and the man-made environment in both towns/cities and the countryside. The Global Issues Unit emphasises the broad nature of geography as a subject, which develops an understanding of the changing inter-relationships between people and places.

A number of local fieldwork visits are incorporated into this course. The optional foreign fieldwork visit at the end of S3 has proved to be relevant and extremely popular with pupils taking Geography. (Please note that the number of places may depend upon the level of interest).

All pupils will begin to study for the National 5 qualification, although some pupils may find the demands of National 5 too challenging and therefore, the National 4 qualification may be more suitable. For these pupils there will be an opportunity to transfer to the National 4 course at some point during S3/S4.

Unit 1: Physical Environments

Landscapes and Land Use
Learners understanding of landscape types will be developed through a basic understanding of earth science.  Geology, weathering, erosion and climate change help explain the landforms associated with coasts (eg arches, spits), upland glaciation (eg corries, arêtes) and rivers (eg waterfalls, meanders).  Pupils will also focus upon examples of the rural land use and management issues associated with these landscape types including forestry, recreation and tourism. Case studies will be drawn from the Jurassic Coast, Dorset; Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park; and various river landscapes.

Weather
The weather has been in the news more than ever in recent years, it has a major influence upon human activity worldwide.  There are also obvious links with weathering rates impacting upon landforms and the impact of weather on human land uses as described above.  Learners will be encouraged to develop a holistic view of: the factors affecting weather (e.g. altitude), air masses affecting the UK, and how air pressure affects weather conditions in the UK.

Unit 2: Human Environments

World population
Scotland has an ageing population which has serious implications for the country's future. Why? What influences birth and death rates in a country and what are the consequences? The factors affecting World population distribution, density and change are considered in this topic, which also examines China's One Child policy.

Living in Cities
Most of us live in towns and cities, and the urban environment plays an enormous part in our lives. The study of urban geography examines a variety of related issues associated with retail services, housing, transport and environmental quality in the contrasting cities of Edinburgh and Mumbai (India).

Changes in the Rural Landscape
Rural landscapes produce the World’s food.  Modern developments in farming have a big impact upon how our food is produced; and upon the rural landscape itself.  Examples of changes and issues are drawn from both developed and the developing countries including: farm diversification, GM, the impact of new technology and biofuels. 

Unit 3: Global Issues

Environmental Hazards
The devastation of parts of eastern Japan by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 and the more recent impact of Hurricane Matthew upon Haiti and Florida were stark reminders that we remain at the mercy of nature's awesome power. Earthquakes, volcanic activity and tropical storms are all products of the earth's physical environment. This topic develops a knowledge and understanding of their distribution, causes and impact through case studies of each environmental hazard.

Development and Health
Inequality of social and economic development is a major feature of the contemporary World. Indicators of development are used to highlight variations between Developed and Developing Countries before examining some of the many factors which influence different levels of development including climate, resources, natural disasters, trade, and industrialisation.

Physical and human factors affect the distribution of diseases such as heart disease, malaria and HIV/AIDS. What are these factors and what strategies are used in managing and improving disease control?

National 5 Assignment

25% of the National 5 Geography course award is assessed by the National 5 Assignment. In Geography, pupils are given the opportunity to select an independent research topic which will be primarily fieldwork based, e.g. a weather study. Pupils use a range of methods to collect data, which is then processed to reach conclusions. The processed information and conclusions are presented in a format of their choice. The formal assessment of the Assignment is a 1-hour report written up in class under exam conditions.

Progression

• S5 – Higher

 

Higher

Head of Department: Ms Catriona Fletcher

Course Progression: Geography

Learning and teaching in Geography encourages pupils to develop a sense of place, both local and global. Through a variety of areal contexts, Geography helps to cultivate an understanding of the physical and human processes which shape our world and make different places distinctive.

The development of geographical knowledge will help to prepare pupils for the 21st century in a world where population growth, rapid development, global environmental change, social and economic inequality, and resource depletion pose serious challenges for the planet.

Increasing international travel serves to illustrate the interconnected nature of the world and associated globalisation and economic dependence. Understanding of such issues and responsibilities, together with the need for the sustainable management of resources and landscapes, are necessary for citizens and employees of the future, and are central to Geography.

Learning and Teaching

All geography courses employ a range of learning and teaching resources and seek to develop transferable skills such as literacy, numeracy, presentation skills, ICT, problem solving and team work.

Fieldwork activities, ranging from local visits to foreign excursions, are integrated into all courses.
Regular homework will involve one or more of the following activities:

  • completion of notes, diagrams or questions from course textbooks.
  • more formal written homework assignments
  • revision for Unit Assessments as required
  • ongoing learning of classwork
  • writing up fieldwork reports.

 

Geography (S5/S6) Higher

Recommended Entry

  • National 5 Geography
  • National 5 or a Higher in another social subject

Pupils who have not taken Geography since S2 should consult Mr Pyper prior to choosing this course.

Course Details

The Higher course comprises three units.

Unit 1 Geography: Physical Environments

This unit aims to provide pupils with a sound knowledge and understanding of the physical environment. Although the unit is sub-divided into four sub-sections there is in fact a strong emphasis upon raising awareness of the inter-relationships between the components. The need for sustainable use of the physical environment has never been more important and pupils with a broad education in the role of these physical systems will be well placed to engage in the environmental debate.

The four sub-sections of this unit contain the following topics:

Atmosphere:
Global weather and climate; patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation; the nature and causes of climatic variation in Equatorial and Savanna regions of Africa.

Hydrosphere:
The global hydrological cycle; drainage basin hydrology and the interpretation of hydrographs.

UK Landscape and Scenery:
Formation of erosion and depositional features in glaciated and coastal landscapes.

Biosphere:
Soil properties and formation processes.

Unit 2 Geography: Human Environments

This unit aims to provide pupils with a sound knowledge and understanding of the patterns and processes of human activity on different scales and with reference to real places. Topics such as the UK's ageing population and the quality of the urban environment will have a direct impact upon the life of pupils, therefore an understanding of these issues makes an important contribution to citizenship education.

The 3 sub-sections of this unit contain the following topics:

Population geography:
Population structures; demographic transition; causes and impacts relating to forced and voluntary migration

Rural geography:
An understanding of the physical, economic and social opportunities within rural areas such as the Cairngorms National Park allows pupils to explore issues such as land use conflicts and rural land management. A one day field visit to Cairngorm and Rothiemurchus Estate will enable pupils to gain first hand experience of these management issues. A case study of the impact and management of rural land degradation in the developing world is also covered.

Urban geography:
Management of urban change in cities of the developed and developing world.

Unit 3 Geography: Global Issues

This unit aims to further develop an understanding of the relationship and interaction between people and the environment within specific applications and areal contexts.

The two issues studied are:

Development and Health:
How is development measured and how useful are these indicators? Inequality of social and economic development is a major feature of the contemporary world. Geographical patterns of development are explained. Did you know that 1 billion people in the world do not have access to clean safe water? Case studies of specific diseases such as malaria and cholera illustrate the challenges facing people in many countries.

Global Climate Change:
A detailed examination of the physical and human causes of climate change; local and global effects; the management strategies employed to tackle climate change, and their limitations.

Higher Assignment

33% of the Higher Geography course award is assessed by the Higher Assignment. The nature of the assignment is very similar to National 5 in that pupils will be required to research, process and analyse information from a range of sources to reach conclusions about their chosen topic or issue. The skills, knowledge and understanding gained are written up in a one and a half hour formal assignment write-up under exam conditions, which is externally marked by the SQA. Topic areas will be suggested, but pupils will also be given greater freedom to select their own geographical topic or issue in consultation with their teacher. Apart from the greater mark allocation, the main differences between N5 and Higher focus upon the range and effectiveness of research methods; the processing skills employed; level of knowledge and understanding; and the depth of analysis.

Progression

• S6 – Advanced Higher Geography

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Advanced Higher

Head of Department: Ms Catriona Fletcher

Course Progression: Geography

Learning and teaching in Geography encourages pupils to develop a sense of place, both local and global. Through a variety of areal contexts, Geography helps to cultivate an understanding of the physical and human processes which shape our world and make different places distinctive.

The development of geographical knowledge will help to prepare pupils for the 21st century in a world where population growth, rapid development, global environmental change, social and economic inequality, and resource depletion pose serious challenges for the planet.

Increasing international travel serves to illustrate the interconnected nature of the world and associated globalisation and economic dependence. Understanding of such issues and responsibilities, together with the need for the sustainable management of resources and landscapes, are necessary for citizens and employees of the future, and are central to Geography.

Learning and Teaching

All geography courses employ a range of learning and teaching resources and seek to develop transferable skills such as literacy, numeracy, presentation skills, ICT, problem solving and team work.

Fieldwork activities, ranging from local visits to foreign excursions, are integrated into all courses.
Regular homework will involve one or more of the following activities:

  • completion of notes, diagrams or questions from course textbooks.
  • more formal written homework assignments
  • revision for Unit Assessments as required
  • ongoing learning of classwork
  • writing up fieldwork reports.

Geography (S6) Advanced Higher

Recommended Entry

Pupils would normally have attained Higher Geography or Higher in another social subject. The skills based nature of AH provides an excellent preparation for further education and is beneficial to a wide range of courses.

Course Details

Unit 1: Geographical Methods and Techniques
This unit includes:

  • Fieldwork Methods and Techniques: a wide range of fieldwork techniques in Physical and Human Geography, such as hydrology studies, soil analysis, questionnaires and urban land use mapping. Several practical fieldwork visits will be undertaken.
  • Statistical Awareness: applying numeracy skills in a geographical context such as sampling, graphical presentation of data, descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.
  • The production and interpretation of maps and diagrams (1:25000 scale): developing cartographic skills.

Unit 2: The Geographical Study
In this investigative exercise, pupils examine a research topic in depth. This may be undertaken in the local area and will usually involve practical fieldwork. For example it could relate to glacial landforms, coastal vegetation, a shopping centre or Edinburgh planning issues. Candidates would be required to plan and research the geographical study; select and use appropriate techniques to analyse and evaluate the information which they have gathered; present the study.

Unit 3: Geographical Issues
One geographical issue is studied in this unit – based on the main ideas of the Higher course Geography Applications unit. Pupils are required to:

  • Identify different viewpoints relating to their chosen geographical issue.
  • Produce analytical summaries of the viewpoints taken from different sources.
  • Present a critical evaluation of viewpoints on key geographical issues.

Topics selected in previous years have included the issue about retaining green belts in the face of the housing crisis, fracking in Scotland, Chinese investment in Latin America and UK migration.

Progression

The Advanced Higher Geography course is particularly useful to those going on to further education in the social sciences, environmental sciences. It is also an excellent qualification containing, as it does, numerous transferable skills relevant to most University subjects and careers.

Methods of Study

Unit 1 is formally taught. A variety of practical techniques and written assignments have to be completed outside class time including 5 short Internal Assessment items. Units 2 and 3 are more pupil-centred and involve relatively little formal teaching. However, much of the work towards these units must be completed out of class.

External Assessment

The Advanced Higher assessment is worth 150 marks. The exam makes up 33% (50 marks) of the external assessment and this is based upon Unit 1. The Geography Project Folio has two parts - A: The Geographical Study (60 marks) and B: The Geographical Issue (40 marks).

This subject is also offered within the IB Diploma Programme, please refer to the IBDP Subject Choice Booklet for further details on course content and assessment.

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Environmental Science (S5)

Head of Department: Ms Catriona Fletcher

Course Progression: Geography

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary subject which draws from the sciences and social sciences. Environmental scientists are involved in tackling issues such as global climate change, pollution, use of land and water resources, and changes in wildlife habitats. Environmental science courses encourage the development of skills and resourcefulness which lead to becoming a confident individual. Successful candidates in environmental science think creatively, analyse and solve problems. Studying relevant areas of environmental science such as the living environment, the Earth’s resources and sustainability produces responsible citizens.

National 5

Recommended entry

The course requires no specific prior learning.

Course Details

The National 5 Environmental Science course is practical and experiential and develops scientific awareness of environmental issues. The purpose of the course is to develop candidates’ curiosity, interest and enthusiasm for environmental science in a range of contexts. The skills of scientific inquiry are integrated and developed throughout the course, as well as investigative and experimental skills. The course develops a scientific understanding of environmental issues. It provides a broad and up-to-date selection of ideas relevant to the role of environmental science in society. This develops an understanding of environmental issues and possible solutions to preventing or reversing environmental degradation, and of sustainable practices. The course provides a range of opportunities for candidates to investigate key areas of the living environment such as biodiversity and interdependence.

The course content includes the following areas of Environmental Science:

1.Living Environment
The key areas covered are: investigating ecosystems and biodiversity; interdependence; human influences on biodiversity.

2. Earth’s Resources
The key areas covered are: an overview of Earth systems and their interactions; the geosphere; the hydrosphere; the biosphere; the atmosphere.

3. Sustainability
The key areas covered are: an introduction to sustainability; food; water; energy; waste management.

Assessment 

There are 2 parts to the assessment.

  1. All pupils will sit a question paper worth 100 marks at the end of the course.
  2. National 5 Assignment This is worth 20 marks. This assignment allows assessment of skills which cannot be assessed through the question paper, for example, the handling and processing of data gathered as a result of experimental/fieldwork and research skills. Candidates apply skills, knowledge and understanding by carrying out an experiment or fieldwork procedure and investigating a topic relevant to environmental science. The topic should draw on one or more of the key areas of the course, and should be chosen with guidance from the teacher. The skills, knowledge and understanding gained are written up in a one and half hour formal assignment write-up under exam conditions, which is marked externally by the SQA.

Higher Environmental Science

The Higher Environmental Science Course develops learners’ interest and enthusiasm for environmental science in a range of contexts, as well as their investigative and experimental skills. The Course provides a broad and up-to-date selection of ideas relevant to the central position of environmental science in society, as learners investigate key areas of the living environment such as biodiversity and interdependence. This allows a deeper understanding of the environmental issues and possible solutions to these.

Recommended entry

The course requires no specific prior learning. 

Course details

The course content includes the following areas of Environmental Science:

1. Living Environment: 
The key areas covered are investigating ecosystems and biodiversity, interdependence, and human influences on biodiversity.

2. Earth’s Resources:
The key areas covered are the geosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere, and the atmosphere.

3. Sustainability:
The key areas covered are, food, water, energy, and waste management.

Assessment

There are 2 parts to the assessment.

  1. All pupils will sit a question paper worth 100 marks at the end of the course.
  2. Higher Assignment: This is worth 20 marks. The nature of the assignment is similar to that at National 5 as it requires the pupils to apply skills, knowledge and understanding to investigate a relevant topic in environmental science. The topic should draw on one or more of the key areas of the Course, and should be chosen with guidance from the teacher. The skills, knowledge and understanding gained are written up in a one and half hour formal assignment write-up under exam conditions, which is marked externally by the SQA.

Some pupils may find the demands of Higher too challenging and therefore, the National 5 qualification may be more suitable. For these pupils there will be an opportunity to transfer to the National 5 course at some point during the Spring Term.

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