Geography Department


Geography at Bryntirion is designed to offer the students the widest range of experiences as possible; we are firm believers in the value of fieldwork and enquiry based learning, leading to the development of the best independent geographers.

From the outset we attempt to develop enquiry based learning opportunities where pupils can develop their own ideas as fully as possible; this enables pupils of all abilities to access the curriculum, produce work of the highest levels stretching and challenging all pupils.

The enjoyment and engagement of pupils within Key Stage 3 is reflected in the very high take up of the subject at GCSE and beyond, with over 50% of the cohort choosing to study Geography after Year 9. The Geography Department has provided a firm bedrock for many pupils continuing their study of geography or related subjects once they have left school and going on to pursue careers within similar fields.

The department maintains a proud legacy of both academic-based residential fieldwork and overseas visits, something which it is keen to continue in the future. During Key Stage 3 visits include locally based fieldwork, visits to Kenfig dunes to study the Sand Dune ecosystems and Porthcawl to study the coastal defences and impacts of tourism. At GCSE there are least two days of fieldwork, one based around Human Geography issues, the second is designed around Physical Geography. At ‘A’ level there are several days of data collection and a three day residential visit to Pembrokeshire, which culminates in a morning of coasteering.

The strong foundations which are established during Key Stage 3 have led to continuing success at GCSE; this is reflected in our results, the most recent from last year where 48% of all students achieved either A or A* grades and the 100% overall pass-rate was maintained.

Our Department Aims are:

To provide our students with a broad depth of knowledge, skills and experiences to help them investigate, understand and explain our complex and changing world.

To provide the opportunity for students to develop as responsible global citizens, able to understand the challenges facing them today and in the future.

To develop the range of skills which reflect a successful geographer; including enquiry, decision making, thinking and problem solving, communication, literacy, numeracy and ICT skills.

Key Stage 3

During Key Stage 3, Geography is taught as a discrete subject, following a skills based focus adhering to National Curriculum guidelines, incorporating literacy and numeracy skills tracking and assessments. In Year 7 pupils study the World, Mapskills, Weather and Climate and Rainforests, in Year 8 pupils begin with the study of Natural Hazards, focussing on Hurricanes, Development Issues, Rivers and Flood Management, Coasts and Environmental Issues. The Year 9 curriculum is structured around the demands of the GCSE course and so lays down the foundation of some of the more important topics, they include Population and Migration, Tectonic Zones and Tourism.

Key Stage 4

The department offers GCSE Geography and follows the WJEC specification A.

The enquiry approach taken by WJEC GCSE Geography, in both classroom and fieldwork contexts, should enable learners to develop the ability to think ‘like a geographer’ if they are given opportunities to: 

think creatively, for example, by posing questions that relate to geographical processes and concepts that include questioning about spatial pattern and geographical change  

think scientifically by collecting and recording appropriate evidence from a range of sources, including fieldwork, before critically assessing the validity of this evidence and synthesising their findings to reach evidenced conclusions that relate to the initial aim of their enquiry 

think independently by applying geographical knowledge, understanding, skills and approaches appropriately and creatively to real world contexts. In so doing they should appreciate that geography can be ‘messy’ i.e. that real geography does not always match typical or predicted outcomes.

The course has 2 exams, taken in year 11 and a fieldwork enquiry report.

Unit 1 (40%) assesses Physical and Human Landscapes, using structured data response questions and an extended written question on either Coasts or tectonic zones and their management.

Unit 2 (40%) assesses Environmental and Development Issues, again it uses structured data response questions to look at the core themes and has an extended written response on Environmental Challenges.

Unit 3 (20%) is the fieldwork enquiry, this uses the results of two pieces of fieldwork completed by the pupils and their fieldwork notebooks to answer, as a report, questions set by the examination board, it is completed as a Controlled Assessment so some teacher support is possible.

Key Stage 5

The department offers Geography at both AS and A level, following the WJEC specification, which encourages learners to apply geographical knowledge, theory and skills to the world around them. In turn this will enable learners to develop a critical understanding of the world’s people, places and environments in the 21st Century. Learners should be able to develop both knowledge and understanding of contemporary geographical concepts together with transferable skills. The focus of the specification is to develop an enthusiasm for and competence in geography by using contemporary real-world contexts, from a range of specified spatial scales, and through engagement with and practical application of geographical skills and techniques in the field. This specification draws on both physical and human geography, explores people-environment interactions and encourages development of fieldwork at the local level to enable learners to pose enquiry questions.

The AS qualification comprises Units 1 and 2.                      

Unit 1: Changing Landscapes - Written examination: (24%)

Section A: Changing Landscapes - Choice between two themes, either Coastal or Glaciated Landscapes; two compulsory structured questions with data response. 

Section B: Tectonic Hazards - Three compulsory structured questions with data response

AS Unit 2: Changing Places Written examination: (16%)

Section A: Changing Places - Two compulsory structured questions with data response.

Section B: Fieldwork Investigation in Physical and Human Geography. Three compulsory structured questions with data response on fieldwork and the learner's own fieldwork investigation.

The A Level qualification comprises Units 1 through to 5.

Unit 3: Global Systems and Global Governance - Written examination: (24%)

Section A: Global Systems, Water and Carbon Cycles - Two compulsory structured questions with data response and one extended response question.

Section B: Global Governance, Change and Challenges, Processes and patterns of global migration and global governance of the Earth's oceans - Two compulsory structured questions with data response and one extended response question.

Section C: 21st Century Challenges - One compulsory extended response question drawing on Units 1, 2 and 3 with resource material.

Unit 4: Contemporary Themes in Geography Written examination: (16%)

Section A: Tectonic Hazards - One compulsory extended response question.

Section B: Contemporary Themes in Geography - Two optional themes from four, with two essay questions, one on each chosen theme:

  • Ecosystems
  • Economic Growth and Challenge: India or China or Development in an African Context
  • Energy Challenges and Dilemmas
  • Weather and Climate

Unit 5: Independent Investigation Non-exam assessment: 3000 – 4000 words (20%).

One written independent investigation, based on the collection of both primary data and secondary information.