Background information about studying Geography
Geography is the study of the Earth, the place and space in the world around us. It can traditionally be spilt into two main strands, human and physical geography, although environmental geography is now commonly thought of as another branch.
How will it differ from GCSE?
AS is not that much different from GCSE, but the difficulty does seem to increase greatly in A2 year. The exams rely more upon how you can manipulate your own knowledge of the world to fit the questions they are asking you, especially when it comes to assessing and evaluating certain scenarios. You must be able to make informed judgements, from the wide knowledge of different case studies around the world that you are expected to learn.
I have found that, although the difficulty is similar to GCSE, A level requires a much better understanding of what the question is asking you. You have to understand the examiner a bit more, and you will find you're adding many more synoptic links than at GCSE.
In my own experience, it does have a large workload compared to some other subjects, but in the form of revision (there is a large amount to learn on the course, we have studied five topics in only six months) practise exam questions and further research in order to create a large bank of case studies for you to choose from in the exams. Many of the exam boards have gotten rid of the coursework part of the A level, but this does mean that there are January exams, the one for Edexcel is two and a half hours long.
Required Individual Study
As already mentioned, you are expected to research your own case studies as the exam boards will specify a certain amount that are compulsory, but also others that are suggested that your teacher may not actually teach to you. It is also advised to keep up to date with current affairs, Geography is one of the most current subjects and examiners like to see that you keep up with news and are interested with the world around you.
How is it assessed?
Geography is a largely exam based subject, though of course it will differ between exam boards. Without coursework however, there will be January exams, with the balance of points spread between this exam and the summer one. (Not always equally)
The new AQA course entails a January exam, unit 4, referred to as the AIB (Advanced Information Booklet). For this exam the booklet is released around 6 weeks before the exam, and it is recommended that you spend around 20 hours on preparation for this exam. The topics are chosen at random and can be human or physical geography. In January 2010 the exam was based on Cycling patterns in Guilford. Although you may get a topic that you dislike, this new type of exam means that you do not need to go back and revise previous topics, and instead can annotate and research information in the booklet. This can be a break from revision for other subjects. You will be given a new, blank copy of the AIB in the exam.
The OCR course is made up of four modules. F761, F762, F763 and F764.
The first two will be studied at AS. These cover four major topics each, with centres choosing three each.
F761 is largely Physical Geography, with topics in Semi-Arid Environments, Glacial + Periglacial Environments, River Environments and Coastal Environments.
F762 is largely Human Geography, with topics in Managing Rural Change, Managing Urban Change, The Growth Of Tourism and The Energy Issue.
The latter two will be studied at A2.
F763 is a mixture of Physical and Human Geography and is called 'Global Issues', although each section can be taught separately. The 'Physical / Environmental Issues' topics are - Earth Hazards, Climatic Hazards & Ecosystems and Environments Under Threat. The 'Human / Economic Issues' topics are Globalisation, Population and Resources and Development and Inequalities.
F764 is a 'Geographical Skills' Exam.
When the A levels changed, many exam boards stopped assessing the subject with coursework. There is no coursework with the OCR Specification.
Field trips and excursions
Geography is probably one of the best subjects for the amount of trips that are available, but this does not mean that they are all exciting and enjoyable! (Think walking along a nudist beach near Poole, during a storm, trying to measure the distance between sand dunes) Waterproofs soon become your best friend. Some of the trips are very important to your exams as you will use the data you collect within the exam - others are a little less important and therefore a little more fun. Examples of ones offered in my department include climbing Mt. Snowdon in Wales, Iceland and Jordan.
Where can I go with a Geography A-Level
Geography is a very employable subject. Degrees you could go on to do include conservation, ecology, geography (both human and physical), and environmental studies, although it is unlikely to count against you for any degree. Although fairly uncommon, some universities even count geography as a science. Employers like it for all sorts of jobs because of the amount of transferable skills you will learn, you can work in groups, your math skills are likely to be adequate, you have analytical skills and you are up to date with current affairs as well as being world wise.
This website has a list of real jobs that are currently being advertised for people who have taken geography - http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/pages/view.asp?page=8543
Finchux: (OCR, 2011)
What I like about studying this subject: The depth and wide ranging topics covered.
What I dislike about studying this subject: A distinct lack of learning about the ways in which different countries work & run.
Chipskylark: (Edexcel 2011)
What I like about studying this subject: The wide range of topics covered and relevance in the current world.
What I dislike about studying this subject: It's respectability (or lack of), the fact that I still can't locate obvious countries in the world.
Luketreherne (Edexcel 2012):
What I like about studying this subject:'" Is very much relative relevance to the world around us and enabled me to understand major issues
What I dislike about studying this subject: The lack of diagrams , this helps me to explain things better.
What I like about studying this subject:
What I dislike about studying this subject: