The Student Room Group

Geography or Sociology?

i need to pick my a levels before the 11th february!!

i really want to take 100% : english literature , art , psychology

however the dilemma is my fourth option ( before you say it , my sixth form requires me to take four!)

i adore geography - i always do good (grades 7 and above) and its so interesting to me im just not sure how i will benefit from geography in the future , im not really sure of my career choice.

sociology sounds very interesting however i did not study it at gcse , so i am concerned that i may not be as interested and may find it hard but i feel as though it fits in better with my other options.

so baffled on what to take and time is running out!

any advice is appreciated <3
Sociology is often viewed as 'less academic' by some universities, whilst geography is counted by some unis (such as Liverpool) as a science. Honestly, it depends on whether you want to continue this a level full-term, neither are easy but they have different requirements.

Geography will require you to do an NEA (coursework, worth 20% of your final grade), this can be physical or human but often human is easier. Wide range of topics - link well together (synoptic questions).

Sociology is 100% exam, there's plenty of sociologists and studies to remember which is where the difficulty lies - if you don't use studies you are SEVERELY capped on 10, 20 and 30 mark questions. With only 4 and 6 marks being obtainable without. For instance, 20 markers often require a minimum of 2-3 studies/examples per paragraph, coming up to a minimum of 8-12 in one essay. Topics are broad but like well together, you really do see a full picture.

Both are good social sciences, with sociology complimenting psychology very well. The choice is entirely up to you.
If it's any help I didn't do sociology GCSE either but I'm studying it at uni next year with an A* predicted :smile:
Geography is a really good choice. There’s a lot of potential topics to study for human and physical geography.

Just to give you a breakdown of what kind of things you would study the topics at my sixth form (OCR specification) are:

Places human geography, talking about the identity and perception of places and how that changes with time/developments/government policies
Coasts physical geography, looking at coastal landforms and their formation, as well as the larger scale impacts of climate change
Earth Life Support Systems physical, looking at the flows and stores of the carbon and water cycles in two opposing areas (e.g. Tropical Rainforest and the Arctic Tundra) as well as climate change and mitigation strategies
Migration human, studying flows of migration on a regional and international scale, and the different challenges countries of varying levels of economic development face
Hazardous Earth physical, looking at hazards and their impacts on human populations as well as mitigation strategies
Oceans physical, looking at physical ocean systems, and ocean landforms (links to Coasts and Hazards) as well as biological systems (biodiversity and ecosystems)
Power and Borders human, looking at state sovereignty, conflict, etc. The most political of the topics.

Obviously your college might offer a different exam board though, which would have different topics and areas of focus.

Not sure how the different exam boards structure their papers, but ours is split into 3 papers and the NEA (coursework).

The range of questions can be anywhere from low-tariff 1, 3, and 6 mark questions, to medium-length 10, 12 and 16 mark questions and then the final 33 mark questions. For example, our Paper 3 has only oceans and hazards, and you get a choice of one of two 33 markers for each topic. The 33 mark questions sound scary but they’re not too bad (got 29/33, essentially an A* level, in my most recent mock).

There are plenty of other topics OCR does, off the top of my head there’s disease, food security and climate change.

But aside from the topics it is basically typical geography with a really nice mix of politics, biology and sociology.

Looking at your current subjects, and as @isabelbelle said, sociology could go a bit better with psychology than geography would. Again though, geography has that mix of other subjects that sociology can’t offer.
Geography us a very useful for Uni applications as its classed as both a science and a social science - this gives you lots of options. And if you really enjoy it, then you'll probably get a good grade.
Reply 5
Original post by marcusking77
Geography is a really good choice. There’s a lot of potential topics to study for human and physical geography.

Just to give you a breakdown of what kind of things you would study the topics at my sixth form (OCR specification) are:

Places human geography, talking about the identity and perception of places and how that changes with time/developments/government policies
Coasts physical geography, looking at coastal landforms and their formation, as well as the larger scale impacts of climate change
Earth Life Support Systems physical, looking at the flows and stores of the carbon and water cycles in two opposing areas (e.g. Tropical Rainforest and the Arctic Tundra) as well as climate change and mitigation strategies
Migration human, studying flows of migration on a regional and international scale, and the different challenges countries of varying levels of economic development face
Hazardous Earth physical, looking at hazards and their impacts on human populations as well as mitigation strategies
Oceans physical, looking at physical ocean systems, and ocean landforms (links to Coasts and Hazards) as well as biological systems (biodiversity and ecosystems)
Power and Borders human, looking at state sovereignty, conflict, etc. The most political of the topics.

Obviously your college might offer a different exam board though, which would have different topics and areas of focus.

Not sure how the different exam boards structure their papers, but ours is split into 3 papers and the NEA (coursework).

The range of questions can be anywhere from low-tariff 1, 3, and 6 mark questions, to medium-length 10, 12 and 16 mark questions and then the final 33 mark questions. For example, our Paper 3 has only oceans and hazards, and you get a choice of one of two 33 markers for each topic. The 33 mark questions sound scary but they’re not too bad (got 29/33, essentially an A* level, in my most recent mock).

There are plenty of other topics OCR does, off the top of my head there’s disease, food security and climate change.

But aside from the topics it is basically typical geography with a really nice mix of politics, biology and sociology.

Looking at your current subjects, and as @isabelbelle said, sociology could go a bit better with psychology than geography would. Again though, geography has that mix of other subjects that sociology can’t offer.

ahh thank you for so much of your advice!! it is much needed.

unfortunately my exam board is edexcel for geography but it was helpful to know what sort of things to expect! and i can recognise a few things from that list as edexcel also does powers and similar things.

i do agree with sociology going better but im thinking maybe it doesnt need to ?? i just really want to enjoy my a levels and take subjects that i enjoy as i have heard that they are difficult and can be really frustrating for people! i feel like geography really diversifys my options ? not sure if thats correct but it adds something different i feel :smile:

thank you so much!!! <3
Original post by call1a
i need to pick my a levels before the 11th february!!

i really want to take 100% : english literature , art , psychology

however the dilemma is my fourth option ( before you say it , my sixth form requires me to take four!)

i adore geography - i always do good (grades 7 and above) and its so interesting to me im just not sure how i will benefit from geography in the future , im not really sure of my career choice.

sociology sounds very interesting however i did not study it at gcse , so i am concerned that i may not be as interested and may find it hard but i feel as though it fits in better with my other options.

so baffled on what to take and time is running out!

any advice is appreciated <3

i think both are really good and about current affairs and stuff, so i feel like they are both useful. If you are so passionate about geography i would say take it because i think it's really helpful. you learn about like the economy as well as political systems and the environemnt. I'd say it's a really good subject to take
Original post by call1a
i need to pick my a levels before the 11th february!!

i really want to take 100% : english literature , art , psychology

however the dilemma is my fourth option ( before you say it , my sixth form requires me to take four!)

i adore geography - i always do good (grades 7 and above) and its so interesting to me im just not sure how i will benefit from geography in the future , im not really sure of my career choice.

sociology sounds very interesting however i did not study it at gcse , so i am concerned that i may not be as interested and may find it hard but i feel as though it fits in better with my other options.

so baffled on what to take and time is running out!

any advice is appreciated <3

i do sociology and with your given subjects geography may be the best option as it is seen as a facilitating subject and can open many doors you can study sociology at uni without having done it at a level at some uni's
Reply 8
If you’re college offers Edexcel geography then I really recommend it as lots of different topics are taught and is more varied and has lower mark questions HOWEVER, if it’s AQA geography then I recommend that you don’t pick it because it had the most boring specification and we were only taught 6 topics that were so deep and boring. I preferred to learn about other stuff in geography just like how it was at gcse and that’s why Edexcel is the most similar to gcse aqa geography. But for me I was pretty miserable with geography, writing essays, having terrible teaching. The only fun part for me was the coursework which I got an A* on because I understood it and it just made sense for me.
If it’s aQA alevel geography then pick sociology over it because I’ve heard it’s really really interesting!
Reply 9
Original post by Honey57
If you’re college offers Edexcel geography then I really recommend it as lots of different topics are taught and is more varied and has lower mark questions HOWEVER, if it’s AQA geography then I recommend that you don’t pick it because it had the most boring specification and we were only taught 6 topics that were so deep and boring. I preferred to learn about other stuff in geography just like how it was at gcse and that’s why Edexcel is the most similar to gcse aqa geography. But for me I was pretty miserable with geography, writing essays, having terrible teaching. The only fun part for me was the coursework which I got an A* on because I understood it and it just made sense for me.
If it’s aQA alevel geography then pick sociology over it because I’ve heard it’s really really interesting!

ahh thank you!!! luckily my sixth form does edexcel geography! :smile:
Hi, I do AQA Sociology & Edexcel Geography A-Level, and this might just be me but I 100% prefer Geog.
I didn't do GCSE sociology and honestly it's ALOT of content to learn and remember, I find geography far more interesting and easier to manage if the workload is something you are worried about. Either are interesting subjects and both well regarded as 'social sciences' - but if you enjoyed GCSE Geography, its really not much harder & the coursework is quite easy to waffle and do well in (hopefully..)
Applied to study geog at uni, so it can't be that bad haha - not too worried about the future, just following a subject that I enjoy and I think a degree in geog will be well respected - good luck, either choice will work well with your current choices! :smile:
Original post by call1a
i need to pick my a levels before the 11th february!!

i really want to take 100% : english literature , art , psychology

however the dilemma is my fourth option ( before you say it , my sixth form requires me to take four!)

i adore geography - i always do good (grades 7 and above) and its so interesting to me im just not sure how i will benefit from geography in the future , im not really sure of my career choice.

sociology sounds very interesting however i did not study it at gcse , so i am concerned that i may not be as interested and may find it hard but i feel as though it fits in better with my other options.

so baffled on what to take and time is running out!

any advice is appreciated <3


****** jones
Reply 12
Original post by call1a

so baffled on what to take and time is running out!

What did you end up choosing? I take both Geog and Soc and I prefer Geog, but best of luck with whichever one you chose!
Reply 13
i chose geography in the end! about to sit my gcse's next week so lets hope i do well enough to take it a-level!

Original post by -han-
What did you end up choosing? I take both Geog and Soc and I prefer Geog, but best of luck with whichever one you chose

Quick Reply