At Key Stage 5, we study Geography AS and A Level (Syllabus code 9696) with the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) Board.

AS (Year 12)

Physical Core

Students must study all 3 topics outlined below.

Hydrology and fluvial geomorphology

  • The drainage basin system

The hydrological cycle as it applies to drainage basins. The terminology and processes operating within drainage basins. Candidates should study examples from a variety of climatic environments.

The drainage basin as a system; inputs, outputs, stores and flows. These should include precipitation, evaporation, evapotranspiration, interception, throughfall, stemflow, overland flow, infiltration, percolation, throughflow, baseflow, water tables, groundwater, recharge, springs.

  • Rainfall – discharge relationships within drainage basins

The components of hydrographs (storm and annual), climatic influences on hydrographs to include precipitation type and intensity, temperature, evaporation, transpiration, evapotranspiration, antecedent

moisture. The influence on hydrographs and stores and flows of drainage basin characteristics including size and shape, drainage density, porosity and permeability of soils, rock type, slopes, vegetation type, land-use.

  • River channel processes and landforms

Channel processes of load transport (traction, saltation, suspension and solution), deposition and sedimentation (the Hjulstrom curve), erosion processes (abrasion, corrasion, solution, hydraulic action),

velocity and discharge, patterns of flow (laminar, turbulent and helicoidal), channel types (straight, braided, meandering), channel landforms (thalweg, riffle and pool sequences, gorges, rapids, waterfalls, bluffs, river cliffs, point bars, floodplains, levées, alluvial fans, deltas).

  • The human impact

Modifications to catchment flows and stores and to channel flows by land-use changes (including urbanisation), abstraction and water storage; the causes and effects of floods and droughts, prediction of

flood risk, and recurrence. The prevention and amelioration of floods.

Atmosphere and weather

  • Local energy budgets

Daytime: incoming solar radiation, reflected solar radiation, energy absorbed into the surface and subsurface, sensible heat transfer, long wave earth radiation, latent heat transfer – evaporation.

Night-time: long wave earth radiation, latent heat transfer – dew, sensible heat transfer, absorbed energy returned to earth. Weather phenomena associated with local energy budgets (mist, fog, dew,

temperature inversions, land and sea breezes).

  • The global energy budget

The latitudinal pattern of radiation excesses and deficits and resultant atmospheric transfers; seasonal variations in pressure and wind belts; the influence of latitude, land/sea distribution and ocean currents on the global distribution of temperature, pressure and wind.

  • Weather processes and phenomena

Atmospheric moisture (vapour, liquid, solid); the processes of changes to atmospheric moisture (evaporation, condensation, freezing, melting, deposition and sublimation); humidity and precipitation, radiation cooling, environmental and adiabatic lapse rates, convection and orographic uplift of air; stability, instability and conditional instability; resultant weather phenomena (clouds, rain, hail, snow,

frost, dew, fog).

  • The human impact

The greenhouse effect and global warming (greenhouse gases and the energy budget, climatic and other impacts); urban effects on climate in comparison with surrounding rural areas (temperature – heat island, humidity, precipitation, pollution, winds).

Rocks and weathering

  • Elementary plate tectonics

Global patterns of plates, sea floor spreading, processes at divergent and convergent plate boundaries;

mountain building, ocean ridges, ocean trenches, island arcs.

  • Weathering and rocks

Physical weathering processes (freeze-thaw, heating/cooling, wetting/drying, exfoliation/spheroidal, salt crystal growth, pressure release); chemical weathering processes (hydrolysis, hydration, carbonation, solution, oxidation, organic action – humic acids and chelation).

Types of weathering and effectiveness in different climates (Peltier diagram); general factors influencing weathering (climate, rock type, structure, vegetation, relief); properties of granite and limestone, their chemical composition and physical nature in relationship to weathering and erosion.

  • Slope processes and development

Slope development (rock type and structure, climate, soil, vegetation, gradient, aspect). Slope processes of mass movement, heaves, flows, slides and falls (conditions under which each occurs and

effects on slopes).

  • The human impact

The impact of human activities on rocks, weathering and slopes (quarrying, mining, pollution, acid rain, dumping material on the Earth’s surface).






Human Core

Students must study all 3 topics outlined below.


  • Natural increase as a component of population change

Natural increase rate; birth rate and death rate; fertility rate; infant mortality rate. The factors affecting levels of fertility and mortality. The interpretation of age/sex pyramids. Population structure (age,

gender, dependency and dependency ratio).

  • Demographic transition

Changes in birth rate and death rate over time. A critical appreciation of the demographic transition model, Stages 1–4, and the possible addition of Stage 5. Issues of ageing populations. The link between population and development: changes in demographic indices over time (e.g. life expectancy).

  • Population–resource relationships

Carrying capacity. Causes and consequence of food shortages. The roles of technology and innovation in resource development (e.g. food production); the role of constraints (e.g. war, climatic hazards) in relation to sustaining changing populations. A critical appreciation of the concept of overpopulation, optimum population and underpopulation. The concept of a population ceiling and population

adjustments over time (the J-curve and the S-curve).

  • The management of natural increase

A case study of one country’s population policy regarding natural increase, illustrating the difficulties faced and evaluating the attempted solution(s). The case study should include attempts to control

population and to manage the results of population change.


  • Migration as a component of population change

Movements of populations (excluding all movements of less than one year’s duration). Causes of migration; push factors and pull factors; processes and patterns of migration; the role of constraints,

obstacles and barriers (e.g. distance, cost, national borders).

  • Internal migration (within a country)

Rural–urban and urban–rural movements; their causes and impacts on source and receiving areas including population structures. Stepped migration within the settlement hierarchy and urban–urban movements. Causes and impacts of intra-urban movements (within urban settlements).

  • International migration

Voluntary and forced (involuntary) movements. Causes and patterns of international migrations including economic migration and refugee flows and impacts on source and receiving areas.

  • A case study of international migration

A case study of one international migration stream, its causes, character, scale, pattern and impacts on source and receiving areas. (The chosen case may or may not involve an element of management.)

Settlement dynamics

  • Changes in rural settlements

Contemporary issues in rural settlements in LEDCs and MEDCs, including the impacts of rural–urban and urban–rural migration and the consequences of urban growth. A case study of a rural settlement

(village or hamlet) or a rural area illustrating some of the issues of its development and growth (or decline) and evaluating the responses.

  • Urban trends and issues of urbanisation

The process of urbanisation in LEDCs and MEDCs, including counterurbanisation and re-urbanisation, competition for land, urban renewal, gentrification, changing accessibility and lifestyles. The concept of a world city; causes of the growth of world cities; the development of a hierarchy of world cities.

  • The changing structure of urban settlements

Factors affecting the location of activities within urban areas (including planning) and how urban locations change over time for retailing, services and manufacturing. Functional zonation and competition for

space (spatial competition) in urban areas and the concept of bid-rent. The changing Central Business District (CBD). Residential segregation and the process basis of residential zonation.

  • The management of urban settlements

A case study illustrating the difficulties of, and evaluating the attempted solutions in, each of the following: shanty towns and/or squatter settlement in an LEDC; the provision of infrastructure for a city; the inner city in an MEDC; strategies for reducing urbanisation in LEDCs.


A2 (Year 13)


Advanced Physical Geography


Students will study the 2 topics outlined below;


Coastal environments

  • Wave, marine and sub-aerial processes

Wave generation and characteristics (fetch, energy, refraction); breaking waves, high and low energy breakers (constructive and destructive), swash, backswash; marine erosion (hydraulic action, wave

quarrying, corrasion/abrasion, solution, attrition); sub-aerial weathering, wave transportation and deposition (sediment sources and characteristics, sediment cells, longshore drift).

  • Coastal landforms of cliffed and constructive coasts

Cliffs and wave-cut platforms, cliff profiles (including caves, arches and stacks) and their evolution (related to rock type, structure, erosional history, sub-aerial processes, mass movement); formation

of depositional features (beaches in cross section and plan, swash and drift aligned beaches, simple and compound spits, tombolos, offshore bars, barrier beaches and islands, coastal dunes, tidal sedimentation in estuaries and coastal saltmarshes).

  • Coral reefs

Characteristics and distribution of fringing reefs, barrier reefs and atolls; conditions required for coral growth and development; theories of atoll formation; causes and results of sea level change on coral reefs.

  • Sustainable management of coasts

A case study illustrating some of the problems of the sustainable management of a stretch or stretches of coastline and an evaluation of attempted solutions.


Hazardous environments

  • Hazardous environments resulting from crustal (tectonic) movement

Global distribution and the relationship of hazards to plate tectonics (convergent, divergent, conservative plate margins, hot spots); earthquakes and resultant hazards (shaking, landslides, tsunami); volcanic hazards; types of eruption and their products (nuées ardentes, lava flows, mudflows, pyroclastic and ash fallout); prediction and monitoring of hazard; perception of risk. Effects on lives and property.

  • Hazardous environments resulting from mass movements

Nature and causes of mass movements on slopes, leading to hazards that result from slope instability; level of impact; the nature and causes of avalanches and the hazards produced; prediction and monitoring of the hazard and the perception of risk. Effects on lives and property.

  • Hazard resulting from atmospheric disturbances

Distribution of areas most at risk from tropical storms (cyclones) and tornadoes; processes causing the development of tropical storms (cyclones) and tornadoes; related hazards (storm surges, coastal

flooding, severe river floods, landslides, high winds, pressure imbalances). Prediction, monitoring of tropical storms (cyclones) and tornadoes and perception of risk. Effects on lives and property.

  • Sustainable management in hazardous environments

A case study illustrating some of the problems of sustainable management of a hazardous environment and an evaluation of attempted or possible solutions.


Advanced Human Geography


Students will study the 2 topics outlined below;


Environmental management

  • Sustainable energy supplies

Renewable and non-renewable energy resources. Factors at the national scale affecting demand for and supply of energy and the balance between different sources (including levels of development, resource endowment, capital, technology, pollution, energy policy). Trends in the consumption of fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewables (e.g. hydro-electric power, wind, biofuels) in LEDCs and MEDCs. The environmental impact of energy production, transport and usage at local and global scales.

  • The management of energy supply

A case study of one country’s overall electrical energy strategy and of one named located scheme to produce electrical energy (e.g. a power station), illustrating some of the issues of changes in demand and supply, in power production and its location, and evaluating the success of the overall strategy and the selected scheme.

  • Environmental degradation

Pollution; land, air and water. Demand for and supply of water; issues of water quality. Factors in the degradation of rural environments (e.g. overpopulation, poor agricultural practices, deforestation). Factors in the degradation of urban environments (e.g. urbanisation, industrial development, inadequate infrastructure). Constraints on improving the quality of degraded environments. The protection of environments at risk: needs, measures and outcomes.


Global interdependence

  • Trade flows and trading patterns

Visible and invisible imports and exports. Global inequalities in trade flows. Factors affecting global trade (including resource endowment, locational advantage, historical factors such as colonial ties, trade agreements, changes in the global market). The World Trade Organization (WTO). The nature and role of Fair Trade.

  • Debt and aid and their management

The causes, nature and problems of debt at the national scale. The debt crisis and debt relief. Different types of aid and donors: relief aid, development aid, tied aid, bilateral or multilateral aid. A critical appreciation of the impacts of aid on receiving countries.

  • The development of international tourism

Reasons for and trends in the growth of tourism. The impacts of tourism on the environments, societies and economies (local and national) of tourist destinations. Carrying capacity; the multiplier effect. A critical appreciation of the life cycle model of tourism. Recent developments including ecotourism.

  • The management of a tourist destination

A case study of one tourist area or resort, its growth and development, illustrating the issues of sustainability it faces and evaluating the impacts of tourism on local environment(s), society and economy.