Subject Information Overview

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Area Staff
Exam information for GCSE
qualifications in this Subject Area


Curriculum Area Staff

Colum McArdle (HoF/CAL Geography)

Charlotte Hall

Stephen Hawksworth

Victoria Smith (ACAL Geography)

Should you require more information about this subject area please contact:

Name: Mr Colum MrArdle
Position: Curriculum Area Leader
Email: cmc@selbyhigh.co.uk



Curriculum Information

We aim to provide students with high quality geographical information through stimulating and exciting lessons using a wide range of teaching styles and techniques. Geography is more than memorising the location of places on a map and our Geography curriculum will allow pupils to reach their full potential and develop a sense of place, help them make sense of their surroundings and to better appreciate and understand the complexity of the physical and human conditions that exist on Earth.

Our geographers will study a demanding curriculum which will develop transferable skills to support inclusivity and progression. There will be a breadth of content, from the familiar to the unfamiliar, ranging from Selby to Britain to other parts of the world, using current examples to contextualise and engage learning. Our geographers will embrace the diversity our world has to offer and leave confident in understanding their place in the world.

In year 7, students will learn about the ‘Geography of the UK’. Students will study both human and physical components such as poverty, energy and water supply, waste management, weather and climate, climate change and population change at both the local and national level.

Throughout year 8 and year 9 students will build on this knowledge but with a focus on the ‘wider world’, specifically the human and physical characteristics of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Students will study a broad range of topics including natural hazards, challenging landscapes, energy supply, population change and rivers and coasts. Key skills such as map and atlas skills will be studied across a range of topics.

Our curriculum is designed to create confident geographers. Selby High School Geography students should have a clear understanding of the world we live in both locally and globally. We aim to inspire and foster an enquiring mind in our students and develop students as geographical locators, writers, investigators and decision makers.


Curriculum Overview

Curriculum map: 

Year 7 concentrates on the ‘Geography of the UK’ whereas Year 8 and 9 focus on ‘The wider world’.  The aim is to build the pupils' locational knowledge and place knowledge of the UK before investigating similar concepts and ideas on the world stage and thus building on their knowledge and applying this at different places and scales.  

Each unit has interlinking themes and concepts and incorporates human, physical and environmental geography.  Links between topics and years are made through the learning cycle and each year builds on the content of the other with a greater level of challenge implemented (making links/comparing and contrasting areas etc.) Each scheme incorporates retrieval practices, assessments and regular feedback opportunities to help ensure the pupils are engaged and understand the content and links.

Throughout the specification we aim to investigate the causes, impacts and responses to global issues and allow pupils the opportunity to build their own opinions on a range of topics.

Geographical skills such as mapwork are incorporated throughout the 3 years.  In year 7 we start with some OS map and atlas skills, with the aim of identifying and closing any gaps in knowledge at the earliest opportunity.  We have incorporated several fieldwork opportunities into the curriculum (studied on site and the local area) with the hope of building the pupils’ proficiency in this area.  


At GCSE we follow the AQA specification.  This consists of three units.  Unit 1 – Living with the physical environments, Unit 2 – Challenges in the human environment and Unit 3 – Geographical applications and skills

Below is a summary overview of the topics and their content that will be studied in each term by each year group. For more information about each topic, get your child to visit learning journeys and resources on the school online learning platform - Ready Steady Learn.

Year Group Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4 Term 5 Term 6

Atlas and Map skills

  • What is Geography?
  • Types of Geography: human/physical and environmental
  • The Atlas
  • Continents and oceans
  • Latitude and longitude
  • Describing places
  • Sketches
  • OS map symbols
  • 4 figure grid references
  • 6 figure grid references
  • Height on maps 
  • Scale and distance
  • Route planning

Contrasting World - The UK

  • The UK or GB?
  • The EU
  • Geo Politics – Brexit
  • Poverty – causes & responses
  • UK food supply
  • Food miles
  • Waste management 
  • Sustainability (3 R’s)
  • Water supply v Rainfall 
  • Deficit v surplus
  • UK Energy supply 
  • Renewables v non renewables
  • Fracking 
  • Cost of living and energy crisis

Weather and climate in the UK

  • Weather and climate 
  • Air masses
  • Climate zones
  • Biomes
  • Climate graphs 
  • Depressions
  • Anticyclones
  • Extreme weather 
  • Hurricanes
  • Beast from the East
  • Micro climate – fieldwork
  • Measuring and recording weather
  • Hypothesis, methodology, conclusions, evaluations
  • Bar charts
  • Geographical skills

Think Global - act local

  • Climate 
  • Evidence of climate change 
  • Ice ages to present day change
  • Causes of climate change both human and physical
  • Fossil fuels
  • Volcanic eruptions, orbital change, sun spots 
  • Enhanced greenhouse effect 
  • Carbon footprint
  • Food miles
  • Impacts of climate change (local and global scale)
  • Mitigations (Planting trees, CCS, international agreements)
  • Responses to climate change 
  • COP 26/27 
  • Local area responses

World in Motion - The UK

  • Population and urbanisation 
  • Economic activity  
  • Settlement functions 
  • Natural advantages 
  • OS maps (local)
  • Settlement change 
  • Land use models
  • Greenfield v brownfield
  • Crime in Selby (secondary data investigation)
  • Sustainable cities
  • Migration
  • Population pyramids
  • Population change
  • Fieldwork – land use survey

Current world issues 

  • Population growth 
  • Cost of living crisis
  • Geopolitics – wars
  • Plastic pollution
  • Pandemics 
  • Fur farms
  • Blood diamonds
Assessment details

Baseline assessment

Google form Quiz

Contrasting world and atlas and map skills

Google form quiz

Think Global, act Local and weather and climate

Google form quiz


Restless Earth 

  • Hazards - types
  • Structure of the Earth
  • Rocks 
  • Tectonic theory/ continental drift
  • Tectonic plates
  • Earthquakes
  • Richter and Mercalli scales
  • Effects and responses to earthquakes
  • HIC V LIC case study
  • Tsunami (Japan)
  • Composite and Shield volcanoes
  • Volcano case study 
  • Living with hazards
  • Latitude + longitude

Challenging landscapes 

  • Ecosystems
  • Food webs/chains
  • Polar environments
  • Hot deserts
  • Marine environments
  • Development v destruction 
  • Adaptation 
  • Tropical Rainforests
  • Deforestation
  • Climate change
  • Soil
  • Desertification
  • Great Green Wall
  • Sustainability 
  • Atlas skills 
  • Global air circulation

Contrasting World – Africa

  • Physical landscapes
  • Biomes
  • Climate + c. graphs
  • Demographics
  • Horn of Africa
  • Colonisation
  • Slavery
  • Apartheid 
  • Development statistics 
  • Tourism
  • Trade
  • Migration
  • Atlas skills

Contrasting world - Asia  

  • Atlas skills 
  • Extreme weather
  • Flooding in India
  • Biomes
  • The Himalayas 
  • Glaciation 
  • Population change
  • Tourism 
  • Conflict in Russia 
  • Geopolitics
  • Comparing continents

Dynamic landscapes - Coasts 

  • Coastal processes (erosions and transportation)
  • Waves
  • Longshore drift
  • Headlands and bays
  • Coastal landforms
  • Holderness Coast
  • GIS – coastal erosion 
  • Hard engineering
  • Soft engineering 
  • Tourism
Assessment details

Restless Earth and Weather and Climate

Google form quiz

Challenging Landscapes and World in Motion UK

Africa and Think Global, Act Local

Google form quiz



  • Natural resources 
  • UK energy mix
  • Renewables and non- renewables
  • Fossil fuels
  • Deep Water Horizon – oil spill
  • Nuclear power
  • Fracking 
  • Wind power
  • HEP 
  • Current affairs: New nuclear v new coal mine 
  • Energy crisis
  • Local fieldwork investigation
  • Climate change
  • Sustainability

The Middle East 

  • Locating the Middle East (Atlas skills)
  • Deserts 
  • Global air circulation 
  • Development 
  • Natural resources (oil)
  • The World Cup
  • Climate
  • Human rights
  • The UAE
  • Geopolitics and conflict
  • Impacts of conflict
  • Aid

World in Motion

  • Superpowers
  • The Growth of Asia
  • Mega cites
  • Urbanisation 
  • Globalisation 
  • Population policies
  • Russia 
  • Economic statistics 
  • Development status

Reducing the Development Gap

  • The development gap
  • Measuring the gap
  • Unequal world
  • Aid 
  • Top-down aid/bottom-up aid
  • Rwanda 
  • Tourism 
  • Eco tourism 
  • Goat aid
  • Fair trade
  • Gender inequality

Raging Rivers

  • Mountains and highland areas
  • Glaciation
  • Plate margins 
  • River basins 
  • River profiles
  • Fluvial processes (erosion & transportation)
  • River landforms 
  • Causes of flooding 
  • Bangladesh
  • River management

Natural and Tectonic hazards

  • Natural hazards
  • Tectonic hazards
  • Weather hazards
  • Extreme weather
  • Climate change

The Living world 

  • Ecosystems
  • Tropical Rainforests
  • Deserts

Challenging UK landscapes

  • UK physical landscapes
  • Coasts

Challenging UK landscapes

  • Coasts
  • Rivers

Paper 3: Fieldwork enquiry skills

  • Rivers
  • Fieldwork
  • Write-up
  • Unfamiliar fieldwork

Urban issues and challenges 

  • The Urban World 
  • Urban change in the UK 

Urban issues and challenges  

  • Sustainable urban development 


Changing economic world 

  • The development gap

Changing economic world 

  • Nigeria a NEE
  • The changing UK economy

Resources management 

  • Food, water and energy in the UK
  • Energy management 


Issue evaluation 

  • Provided 12 weeks prior to the assessment



End of unit assessment will be carried out after each unit has been completed.  

Pupils will have regular google form assessments in order to pick up and address any misconceptions.

Regular low stakes testing in lessons.

Two MOCK exams will be carried out in year 10 and another two in year 11.




A Knowledge Rich Curriculum at Selby High School

Research around memory suggests that if knowledge is studied once and not revisited or revised, it is not stored in the long-term memory.  This means that after one lesson, or revising for one test, the knowledge will not be retained unless it is studied again.  It won’t be recalled unless it is revisited frequently, which will embed it in the long term memory.  In the long term this makes recall far easier.  As part of home learning, students should be revising what they have been taught recently but also content they were taught previously.  Therefore as part of our strategy to embed learning over time we have started to develop knowledge organisers across all year groups and curriculum areas. These will provide key content and knowledge  allowing students to pre-learn and re-learn, a vital part of processing all the information required to be successful in the new style GCSE’s.

Instructions for using your knowledge organisers

KS3 = Years 7, 8 & 9
KS4 = Years 10 & 11

Below are the knowledge organisers for each topic in this subject.  These knowledge organisers will become embedded in the Learning Journeys for each topic as they are created on Ready Steady Learn.

Year 7
What is Geography
UK General Knowledge
Atlas & Map Skills
Contrasting World
The EU
Dangerous Geography: Weather & Climate
Think Global, Act Local
World in Motion UK
World Population Growth
Global Challenges


Year 8
The Challenges of Natural Hazards
Challenging Landscapes
Contrasting World Asia
Coastal Landscapes

Year 9
The Middle East
World in Motion 
Reducing the Development Gap
River Landscapes


Physical Landscapes in the UK
The Challenges of Natural Hazards
The Living World
Urban Issues and Challenges
The Changing Economic World

Exam information for GSCE qualifications in this subject area

Click each link below to view the full specification:

Exam Board - AQA, Code - 8035
Unit 1: Living with the physical environment
Unit 2: Challenges in the human environment
Unit 3: Geographical applications and skills