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should i take alevel ECCONOMICS or GEOGRAPHY?

currently in y12, is it too late to swap and should I? has anyone taken both?
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 1
edexcel for geography and ocr economics, took both at gcses
Not very clear - Are you studying one of those subjects already for A-level?

You could give some more details and to why you might be having second thoughts... What are your job/university prospects, etc.
Reply 3
I've been in the same situation as you. I decided to take geography in the end. Regret nothing about it. Here's a heavily biased list of why geography is superior:

Economics is based off geography: The key to understanding an economy is by understanding how it's people work and how the environment is based off it. For example, a simple model of the insane growth between 1980 and 2010 dubbed the "Chinese Miracle" is because of liberalisation of the economy, allowing easier foreign investment. However, there are many other factors that aid in that growth such as china's abundant natural resources as well as china's demographic bubble. It's a complicated story, but viewing it wholly through the lens of economics is inappropriate

Economics is too abstract for it's own good: Economics as a study relies to heavily on these abstract concepts, and schools of thought, and complex mathematical modeling. The field has almost a maths envy, and deploys maths in sometimes inappropriate situations. For example, I would argue that the middle income trap shouldn't exist as a model as it neglects a bunch of socio-cultral aspects in the name of economic growth. In essence I would argue at times it neglects humanity.

Geography teaches you how to think: There's a key theme in A-Level geography called synoptic links. This is linking two different things and seeing how they link up. This could how natural disasters cause down stream effects on socio-economic dynamics of a country, or how globalization causes death of culture. This is contrasted with economics applying the demand and supply graph for the 9th time in an exam and then explaining how asset price bubbles are caused (which now that I think about it, that does sound interesting).

Geography is the human story: In geography, every natural hazard, landscape topography and even geological maps in given in the context of how humans will interact with it. I think this is the most misunderstood aspect of geography.


However I'm not saying economics is all bad. A-Level economics gives a good foundation into economics, fiscal management and consumers. It can introduce you to the business world of trading and stocks. For me though, I felt geography is the best choice. I'm in my first year of Sixth Form and I hope to do a degree in economics or some other humanitarian degree. My Sixth Form doesn't do economics and I didn't want to travel to the nearest Sixth Form that does economics. Most universities don't require A-Level economics to do it as a degree. Hope this helps :smile:
Reply 4
We need more context. Why are those your two options? Is your choice limited by your school? What do you want to study at uni? What are your other A Levels?
Reply 5
sorry shoud've given more context. I'm currently doing economics, maths and computer science for alevel in y12, planning to do a degree apprenticeship in the tech field. My school offers both geography and economics for alevels.

Chose econ because I felt like it was more interesting but as Saidist above had mentioned I feel like it is a lot more abstract with content, originally thought it would have a lot more of the human aspect of geography (seems to feel more analytical, like you take an outward approach- whereas I prefer how geography takes into account more of the human and social sides).

I was good at geography for gcse's and still feel like I would be but some of the content just seems like a bit of a drag, whereas economics seems more interesting as a whole. Had the first econ topic type of exam this week and just felt like it was repeat of the gcse exams where I struggle with exam technique/ the style of exams for economics.

Honeslty just dont know if I should carry on with it in case I regret swapping to geography later
Reply 6
I'm only 3 months into the geography course so take my advice with a pinch of salt. GCSEs compared to A-Levels are a different ball game. I agree, at GCSE, stuff like oxbow lakes and discordant coast lines are kinda irrelevant. In A-levels they test much more on synoptic links: the ability to link one aspect of the world to another. in practice, this means that the exam is much less focused on knowledge (AO1) and more on the ability explain things (AO2) and the ability to see how that can effect other things (AO3). Okay, that's enough talking, let's see a question from this paper:

3. ii. c) Evaluate the impact of government decisions on the economic and social characteristics of either urban or rural places. (20)

Look at how much nicer this is. You can probably answer a bit already. It's questions like these that help decision makers decide on what to do next. What can economists do? Get excited over seeing points hitting their curvy lines! Seriously, why teach these kids this stuff. Like for example the Netherlands. I lived there for 6 months. I thought the public transport was great. The education (while in private school as there are no state english schools) was great. The immigration was awful. Never have I thought about how the Dutch economy is unable to grow more because of a lack of land supply, and how the economy has reached Production-possibility frontier. Sorry I got distracted.

So you did Edexcel so if I recall right you had to tick two of the three topics. To compare it between GCSE geography, here are some points

The biggest difference I would say is that the exam is geared towards humans. The big 25 markers in the first papers are always about how humans interact with the environment. Stuff like explaining social vulnerability in hazard zones, or droughts lead to regional instability. You're expected to know how the process works as well as how the process effects humans.

While the exam is still reliant on the same command words to test skills. Still sucks.

The questions themselves allow for lots more flexibility in what you can say. For example, you can discuss going into the above question about the effect of land management would have a knock on the crime rates of an area. You can argue more passionately about how processes effects humans.

I would say all the knowledge for physical geography you have to learn is the same as learning all three of those topics and a bit more. However if the sixth form your going to does Edexcel A-Level geography that means they'll be starting off with Plate Tectonics which isn't covered by the GCSE course at all... You'll have a tough time switching courses.

And human geography, knowledge is a lot more, but it's actually interesting and relevant, so it's a lot less :wink:. If you were to join now we're leaning about Globalization, easy stuff compared to economics.


Really, it's up to you what you want to do. Looking at the AQA A-level economic course, it does give you a good foothold into the world of economics. As much as I want to hate on economics, I would say its especially good if you want to make investments. If I were you, I would just stick. They're really strong subjects that complement each other well. Geography is more for the Arts and Humanities people who "wants to travel the world", or "wants to help people" like myself. To be honest though, sometimes it is a bit alienating being the only one in my class who takes maths, German and physics.
Reply 7
Original post by Saidist
I'm only 3 months into the geography course so take my advice with a pinch of salt. GCSEs compared to A-Levels are a different ball game. I agree, at GCSE, stuff like oxbow lakes and discordant coast lines are kinda irrelevant. In A-levels they test much more on synoptic links: the ability to link one aspect of the world to another. in practice, this means that the exam is much less focused on knowledge (AO1) and more on the ability explain things (AO2) and the ability to see how that can effect other things (AO3). Okay, that's enough talking, let's see a question from this paper:

3. ii. c) Evaluate the impact of government decisions on the economic and social characteristics of either urban or rural places. (20)

Look at how much nicer this is. You can probably answer a bit already. It's questions like these that help decision makers decide on what to do next. What can economists do? Get excited over seeing points hitting their curvy lines! Seriously, why teach these kids this stuff. Like for example the Netherlands. I lived there for 6 months. I thought the public transport was great. The education (while in private school as there are no state english schools) was great. The immigration was awful. Never have I thought about how the Dutch economy is unable to grow more because of a lack of land supply, and how the economy has reached Production-possibility frontier. Sorry I got distracted.

So you did Edexcel so if I recall right you had to tick two of the three topics. To compare it between GCSE geography, here are some points

The biggest difference I would say is that the exam is geared towards humans. The big 25 markers in the first papers are always about how humans interact with the environment. Stuff like explaining social vulnerability in hazard zones, or droughts lead to regional instability. You're expected to know how the process works as well as how the process effects humans.

While the exam is still reliant on the same command words to test skills. Still sucks.

The questions themselves allow for lots more flexibility in what you can say. For example, you can discuss going into the above question about the effect of land management would have a knock on the crime rates of an area. You can argue more passionately about how processes effects humans.

I would say all the knowledge for physical geography you have to learn is the same as learning all three of those topics and a bit more. However if the sixth form your going to does Edexcel A-Level geography that means they'll be starting off with Plate Tectonics which isn't covered by the GCSE course at all... You'll have a tough time switching courses.

And human geography, knowledge is a lot more, but it's actually interesting and relevant, so it's a lot less :wink:. If you were to join now we're leaning about Globalization, easy stuff compared to economics.


Really, it's up to you what you want to do. Looking at the AQA A-level economic course, it does give you a good foothold into the world of economics. As much as I want to hate on economics, I would say its especially good if you want to make investments. If I were you, I would just stick. They're really strong subjects that complement each other well. Geography is more for the Arts and Humanities people who "wants to travel the world", or "wants to help people" like myself. To be honest though, sometimes it is a bit alienating being the only one in my class who takes maths, German and physics.

Thank you for the in depth reply! I'd agree w how geo focuses more on the human aspect which is why I want to swap. I just don't want to regret swapping though, since I'd have to go through the topics by myself but I have actually done plate tectonics at gcse's because I did the edexcel spec.

can I ask what the depth of content is like compared to gcse's (so what the added bits are that youve realised so far), I'm not sure if we did the same exam board though so it's fine if you can't really answer.

also what's the wider reading liek that you need to do about the topic, are case studies taught in class where we all do the same ones or do we liek read articles and watch news to pick things we find relevant into the essays?
Reply 8
Hey, sorry for the late reply.

In terms of knowledge, I would say the entire course is double in terms of content. That is, the course builds on no pre-existing knowledge: everything is retaught. In practice, you would know some odd bits of info so you don't have to learn as much. For reference I would say the jump in Maths and Physics would be three times, while German would be 2.5 times. However all of those courses build on knowledge. Entirely rough approximations.

Okay perhaps a better way of visualising things is looking things through a plane. You do a lot of these things in geography. If we were to say the x-axis is breadth of knowledge, and the y-axis is the depth of knowledge, we can give profiles of the subject. Therefore, the area is the content of the course. In this regard, I would say the breadth of knowledge of the geography is three times, while the depth stays the same, making the knowledge you need to learn 3 times as much. This is compared to maths and physics where I would say the breadth doubles while the depth triples, making the knowledge 6 fold. And in German where the breadth is while the depth is 2×. Yet again entirely approximations.

In terms of wider reading, it changes between physical and human:

In human the wider reading is often the news and stuff from media. Really easy. If you want good examples just look at anything from the FT, Economist or Guardian. I'm serious. Just remove anything involving the word "interest rates" ,or worse, "investors" and that covers about 40% of literaly the Human course. Have a focus on world news as we leave domestic news to the politics students.

In terms of physical, as physical events such as earthquakes or droughts aren't really covered in media. In class, we read a mix of the news, research papers and government reports. Things like this UN risk report or the uncommon case that natural disasters are reported. It varies and you have much more technical vocab. It's harder to read, but it's much more orientated to academia.


In terms of case studies, you have to relearn them. It sucks but honestly it's better. I hated my GCSE case studies as they were so boring. You also get to use anything as long as it's relevant. Massive bonus I'd say. I get motivated to learn my own thing my own way.
I take both economics and geography a levels

i personally prefer economics to geography as i find it a lot more interesting but there is a fair amount of overlap

i only really care about human geography so i really hate physical geography as i find it really hard to care about things like tectonics and coasts
also i don't like learning case studies

however it may just be personal experience especially since my geography teachers set so much work which makes it harder for me to enjoy it as i feel like i am always doing geography hw

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