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A level geography?

Could you tell me everything about it, all the pros and cons , I haven’t done gcse geography but find that most say it’s common sense and simple, I will after my GCSEs start looking over gcse geography etc, how hard is it? is it fun to learn about?

Also I heard they have to do coursework which is 20% of final grade, could you tell me more about that? Is that a downside or is it a good thing?
Original post by og-iconx
Could you tell me everything about it, all the pros and cons , I haven’t done gcse geography but find that most say it’s common sense and simple, I will after my GCSEs start looking over gcse geography etc, how hard is it? is it fun to learn about?

Also I heard they have to do coursework which is 20% of final grade, could you tell me more about that? Is that a downside or is it a good thing?

When I did geography, it was structured as half physical geography and half human georgraphy.

The common sense and simple aspect is referring to human geography specifically referring to people who hate maths and science, and prefer essay writing subjects such as English, History, Philosophy. If you can't articulate well, human geography is going to be rough.

Physical geography is like an easy going version of science, It involves quite a bit of facts, terminology, and memorisation, I always found physical easier than human.

A Level geography is definitely a step up from GCSE, but if you like the subject then you should be OK in it.

The things that I find fun about it were the field trips and the physical aspects of it. Having said that, the teachers do try to squeeze as much in on the trips where possible. I was fortunate to have a good physical geography teacher, and I liked my human geography teacher.

When I did geography, we were able to have 100% exams and coursework was optional. Those who did coursework had to undertake their own independent geography research projects (you don't get any free rides in geography). You need to go out there and do your own stuff, usually without supervision (so most of the time you would be wondering whether you were doing something right, and wondering how in blazes you were supposed to know).

The marking criteria is never made explicit, so most of the time it feels like a guessing game, just like most essay based subjects (for me at least). It's also difficult to tell whether your essays were done correctly and what you can do to improve on your grades.
If you can get your hands on model answers, compare it to the mark scheme and analyse the h*ck out of it. Also model and get advice from people who get high grades in geography for second opinions on your work. It's pretty much invaluable.
I really loved the subject and it was one of the things i was considering to study for a degree. I liked the subject because it was a mixture of everything from a hint of mathematics, some essay writing, history and cultural aspect and a chunk of science. It was something that helped me to improve a lot of my skills and gain a lot of general knowledge about things I wouldn't typically look at, but regardless it was very interesting and fun.

There is a coursework element to it - I wasn't able to complete it properly (class of 2020 covid situation) but it is honestly the best thing to have some if not all coursework for a subject because it can help bring your exam grade up and isn't as stressful - you will also have a better chance at getting a good grade for the subject because you can ask teachers for feedback and advice on the coursework whilst working on it.

For geography our coursework was called an NEA = Non- examined - Assessment and we had to do some research and write a report on an geographical subject; tourism impacts on an area, the physical aspects of an area etc. From what I did for it - the process was really straightforward and that meant we had more trips for the subject compared to other A level subjects. I had a great experience studying it nd a lot of good memories on trips, it also gives you a greater appreciation for the environment itself.

It's not a particularly hard subject it's very 'down-to earth' :colone:

Good luck with it!
Original post by og-iconx
Could you tell me everything about it, all the pros and cons , I haven’t done gcse geography but find that most say it’s common sense and simple, I will after my GCSEs start looking over gcse geography etc, how hard is it? is it fun to learn about?

Also I heard they have to do coursework which is 20% of final grade, could you tell me more about that? Is that a downside or is it a good thing?


I agree too with the poster above ^^ A-Level geography is quite a bit of work but it’s definitely worth it! I also didn’t study it at GCSE but found A-Level really interesting and you get used to the type of learning and exam pretty fast. I really enjoyed both the physical and human sides and you get to learn so much about so many different and varied topics.

Do you know which exam board you would be using for geography? Perhaps you could have a look at the topics provided and see what you think about them! Don’t worry at all or feel at a disadvantage because you will pick it all up very fast, so if you like the look of the course then go for it!

Personally, I was on the AQA exam board and we had the topics below:

Human

- Changing Spaces, Making Places
- Human Rights
- Disease
- Migration

Physical

- Glaciers
- Hazardous Earth
- Water Cycles
- Earthquakes

I found these very interesting to study and heard of people at other sixth forms really enjoying other topics too!

At my sixth form we had to do coursework as part of our final grade at 20%, this was called our NEA (non-examined assessment) and we had to choose a topic to research in either human or physical geography. I knew of people who did topics such as the change in water pH due to pollution in the local city centre for example or researching human demographics for school students or elderly people. For my project I studied a petition into the use of green belt land for a new housing estate (which probably sounds a bit boring haha) but it was really cool to do a project that you can choose all by yourself and to gather the information and data to present what you find! I was a bit worried at first to start the NEA but you get a lot of support in it and it becomes a lot easier.

I hope you really enjoy your A-Levels no matter what you decide! You really get to see what you enjoy and hopefully that will help you to decide the future too! I wish you the best of luck :-)
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 4
Original post by Bean_cat
I really loved the subject and it was one of the things i was considering to study for a degree. I liked the subject because it was a mixture of everything from a hint of mathematics, some essay writing, history and cultural aspect and a chunk of science. It was something that helped me to improve a lot of my skills and gain a lot of general knowledge about things I wouldn't typically look at, but regardless it was very interesting and fun.

There is a coursework element to it - I wasn't able to complete it properly (class of 2020 covid situation) but it is honestly the best thing to have some if not all coursework for a subject because it can help bring your exam grade up and isn't as stressful - you will also have a better chance at getting a good grade for the subject because you can ask teachers for feedback and advice on the coursework whilst working on it.

For geography our coursework was called an NEA = Non- examined - Assessment and we had to do some research and write a report on an geographical subject; tourism impacts on an area, the physical aspects of an area etc. From what I did for it - the process was really straightforward and that meant we had more trips for the subject compared to other A level subjects. I had a great experience studying it nd a lot of good memories on trips, it also gives you a greater appreciation for the environment itself.

It's not a particularly hard subject it's very 'down-to earth' :colone:

Good luck with it!


Thank you! So with the coursework, would you say it’s not that challenging and that actually if all it helps grades out?
Reply 5
Original post by juniper_542
I agree too with the poster above ^^ A-Level geography is quite a bit of work but it’s definitely worth it! I also didn’t study it at GCSE but found A-Level really interesting and you get used to the type of learning and exam pretty fast. I really enjoyed both the physical and human sides and you get to learn so much about so many different and varied topics.

Do you know which exam board you would be using for geography? Perhaps you could have a look at the topics provided and see what you think about them! Don’t worry at all or feel at a disadvantage because you will pick it all up very fast, so if you like the look of the course then go for it!

Personally, I was on the AQA exam board and we had the topics below:

Human

- Changing Spaces, Making Places
- Human Rights
- Disease
- Migration

Physical

- Glaciers
- Hazardous Earth
- Water Cycles
- Earthquakes

I found these very interesting to study and heard of people at other sixth forms really enjoying other topics too!

At my sixth form we had to do coursework as part of our final grade at 20%, this was called our NEA (non-examined assessment) and we had to choose a topic to research in either human or physical geography. I knew of people who did topics such as the change in water pH due to pollution in the local city centre for example or researching human demographics for school students or elderly people. For my project I studied a petition into the use of green belt land for a new housing estate (which probably sounds a bit boring haha) but it was really cool to do a project that you can choose all by yourself and to gather the information and data to present what you find! I was a bit worried at first to start the NEA but you get a lot of support in it and it becomes a lot easier.

I hope you really enjoy your A-Levels no matter what you decide! You really get to see what you enjoy and hopefully that will help you to decide the future too! I wish you the best of luck :-)


Thank you so much, I thought I was disadvantaged with not doing gcse geography, Im doing AQA too, is the exam papers challenging? I was looking through them and saw 20 mark essays etc
Reply 6
Original post by MindMax2000
When I did geography, it was structured as half physical geography and half human georgraphy.

The common sense and simple aspect is referring to human geography specifically referring to people who hate maths and science, and prefer essay writing subjects such as English, History, Philosophy. If you can't articulate well, human geography is going to be rough.

Physical geography is like an easy going version of science, It involves quite a bit of facts, terminology, and memorisation, I always found physical easier than human.

A Level geography is definitely a step up from GCSE, but if you like the subject then you should be OK in it.

The things that I find fun about it were the field trips and the physical aspects of it. Having said that, the teachers do try to squeeze as much in on the trips where possible. I was fortunate to have a good physical geography teacher, and I liked my human geography teacher.

When I did geography, we were able to have 100% exams and coursework was optional. Those who did coursework had to undertake their own independent geography research projects (you don't get any free rides in geography). You need to go out there and do your own stuff, usually without supervision (so most of the time you would be wondering whether you were doing something right, and wondering how in blazes you were supposed to know).

The marking criteria is never made explicit, so most of the time it feels like a guessing game, just like most essay based subjects (for me at least). It's also difficult to tell whether your essays were done correctly and what you can do to improve on your grades.
If you can get your hands on model answers, compare it to the mark scheme and analyse the h*ck out of it. Also model and get advice from people who get high grades in geography for second opinions on your work. It's pretty much invaluable.

Thank you for the info, would you say it’s a subject most get As or A*s compared with other subjects like maths, physics etc
Original post by og-iconx
Thank you! So with the coursework, would you say it’s not that challenging and that actually if all it helps grades out?


Yeah, it's honestly not that bad and teachers will provide feedback on the coursework also, to make sure that you're on the right track. It's something to work on, but not something I'd describe as challenging - because you're essentially making sure you've got all the points down and that you've done a detailed analysis on it. It would definitely help your grade out, because it can pull someone up a grade if they didn't do too well in the exam - I had 2 excellent teachers and they also emphasised on this a lot.
Original post by og-iconx
Thank you so much, I thought I was disadvantaged with not doing gcse geography, Im doing AQA too, is the exam papers challenging? I was looking through them and saw 20 mark essays etc


Hi, you’re welcome! I found that the exams were okay and there is definitely structures that you get taught to follow which is really helpful. The essays do seem quite intimidating at first but the questions are laid out in a really good way in that they flow on from eachother and you feel prepared for the bigger ones when you get to them. I think as long as you go over the content and recall some of the key points and facts you can’t go wrong at all! :-)
Original post by og-iconx
Thank you for the info, would you say it’s a subject most get As or A*s compared with other subjects like maths, physics etc


No, it's not a subject where most people get As and A*s. However, it's one of those subjects where people respect (in academia at least; you can sometimes get snide comments from history students).

If you want an easy subject to get A/A* in, sociology might be your best bet.

Whether you will get A/A* in it depends on you as an individual person. If you work hard, use the right exam strategies, use the right approach, take on the feedback, use the right resources, you should likely be fine.
I couldn't really do much on the human geography side, since writing essays and vague concepts isn't my thing. I am more of a science person, so naturally I can get A/A*s in the sciency subjects without sweating too much. Ask me to do something like literature, history, music, where the feedback is vague and there's no clear outline of how you should approach the task, and I will be sweating. I don't know whether this applies to you.

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