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GCSE Geography Years 10 & 11


OCR Specification A - The specification and assessment structure can be found at the link:

What will I study?

Content Overview Course Content Assessment Overview

Living in the UK Today

A focus on UK human and physical Geography taught in Year 10.

Landscapes of the UK

People of the UK 

Environmental Threats to the UK

A one hour paper worth 60 marks.

This unit is worth 30% of the total GCSE.

The World Around Us

A focus on global physical and human geography taught in year 11.

Ecosystems of the Planet 

People of the Planet

Environmental Threats to the UK

A one hour paper worth 60 marks.

This is worth 30% of the total GCSE.

Geographical Skills

A focus on data handling skills and fieldwork taught throughout years 10 and 11.

Geographical Skills


A one and a half hour paper worth 90 marks.

This is worth 40% of the total GCSE.


Fieldwork must be undertaken as part of the GCSE course on two occasions. This fieldwork will take place in two contrasting locations. In the spring term of Year 10 there is a fieldwork visit to the River Witham to investigate river processes and landscapes and in the Summer term a visit to Lincoln to investigate urban processes and their impacts.  The assessment of fieldwork will take place within the Geographical Skills paper.

How will I learn?

You will learn through reading, writing, discussions, listening, analysing data, developing presentation skills using maps and diagrams, the use of applied programmes in ICT and the use of statistics as an analytical tool. Geography Information Systems using digital technology are now a requirement for all Geography courses.

What skills and qualities are required?

  • Analytical Skills.
  • Communications skills.
  • Evaluation skills.
  • Organisational skills.
  • Initiative.
  • Independent learning and research skills.
  • Working with others.
  • Self-motivation.

Where could it lead?

Geography is recognised for its academic ‘robustness’ and, most importantly, it also helps young people into the world of work. We know this is true because so many employers prize the knowledge and skills that studying geography can provide, be it knowing how the world works, planning research and report writing, working in a team, using new technologies and communication skills – and much more. You will find geographers working in a wide range of jobs, from the City to planning, working in the environment to travel and tourism, or in international charities or retail. Studying geography can help young people achieve careers that are professionally and financially rewarding and also enjoyable.

Important information

Geography fits well with almost every academic subject as it develops those transferable skills that are vital in the world of work. The syllabus aims to build on Key Stage 3 and to lay a foundation for advanced study.  A GCSE in either Geography or History is necessary to achieve the English Baccalaureate.

Year 10

  Topic Further details about the topic Skills
Autumn Term
1 Landscapes of the UK

Overview of the distribution of areas of upland, lowland and glaciated landscapes.

Overview of the distinctive characteristics of these  landscapes including their geology, climate and human activity.

The definitions of the main geomorphic processes including types of weathering (mechanical, chemical, biological), mass movement (sliding, slumping), erosion (abrasion, hydraulic action, attrition, solution), transport (traction, saltation, suspension, solution) and deposition

The formation of river landforms (waterfall, gorge, V-shaped valley, floodplain, levee, meander, oxbow lake).

The formation of coastal landforms (headland, bay, cave, arch, stack, beach, spit).

Two case studies, one UK river basin and one UK  coastal landscape, to cover: The geomorphic processes operating at different scales and how they are influenced by geology and climate landforms and features associated with your case study and how human activity, including management, works in combination with geomorphic processes to impact the landscape.




Visual imagery


Information processing

Map skills


Independent work

Group work

2 People of the UK

Overview of the UK’s current major trading partners to include principal exports and imports.

An understanding of the UK’s geographical diversity through patterns of employment, average income, life expectancy, educational attainment, ethnicity and access to broadband.

The causes of uneven development within the UK, including geographical location, economic change, infrastructure and government policy.

Case study of the consequences of economic growth and/or decline for one place or region in the UK.

Changes in the UK’s population structure from 1900 to the present day, including its changing position on the Demographic Transition Model.

  • An understanding of the causes and the effects of, and responses to an ageing population.
  • Outline flows of immigration into the UK in the 21st century including an overview of the social and economic impacts on the UK.

Overview of the causes for contrasting urban trends in the UK, including suburbanisation, counter-urbanisation and re-urbanisation.

  • Outline of the social, economic and environmental consequences of contrasting urban trends in the UK, including suburbanisation, counter-urbanisation and re-urbanisation.

Case study of one major city in the UK including the influences of: the city within its region, the country and the wider world migration (national and international) and its impact on the city’s growth/character and the ways of life within the city, such as culture, ethnicity, housing, leisure and consumption. Contemporary challenges that affect urban change, including housing availability, transport provision and waste management and  sustainable strategies to overcome one of the city’s challenges.

As above

Spring Term
1 UK Environmental challenges

How air masses, the North Atlantic Drift and continentality influence the weather in the UK.

  • How air masses cause extreme weather conditions in the UK, including extremes of wind, temperature and precipitation.
  • Case study of one UK flood event caused by extreme weather conditions including:

Causes of the flood event, including the extreme weather conditions which led to the event effects of the flood event on people and the environment

The management of the flood event at a variety of scales.

Overview of how environments and ecosystems in the UK are used and modified by humans, including:

  • mechanisation of farming and commercial fishing to provide food
  • wind farms and fracking to provide energy
  • reservoirs and water transfer schemes to provide water.
  • Identification of renewable and non-renewable energy sources.
  • The contribution of renewable and non-renewable sources to energy supply in the UK.
  • Energy in the UK is affected by a number of factors and requires careful management and consideration of future supplies.

Changing patterns of energy supply and demand in the UK from 1950 to the present day, and how changes have been influenced by government decision making and international organisations.

  • Strategies for sustainable use and management of energy at local and UK national scales, including the success of these strategies.
  • The development of renewable energy in the UK and the impacts on people and the environment.
  • The extent to which non-renewable energy could and should contribute to the UK’s future energy supply.
  • Economic, political and environmental factors affecting UK energy supply in the future.

As above

2 Skills

With respect to cartographic skills, learners should be able to:

  1. select, adapt and construct maps, using appropriate scales and annotations, to present information
  2. interpret cross-sections and transects
  3. use and understand coordinates, scale and distance
  4. extract, interpret, analyse and evaluate information
  5. use and understand gradient, contour and spot height (on OS and other isoline maps)
  6. describe, interpret and analyse geo-spatial data presented in a GIS framework

As above

Summer Term
1 Fieldwork projects

Writing a project on Human and physical fieldwork focusing on:

  • Planning
  • Method
  • Data presentation
  • Analysis
  • Conclusion
  • Evaluation

As above

2 Skills

With respect to graphical skills, learners should be able to:

  1. select, adapt and construct appropriate graphs and charts, using appropriate scales and annotations to present information
  2. effectively present and communicate data through graphs and charts
  3. extract, interpret, analyse and evaluate information.

As above

Year 11

  Topic Further details about the topic Skills
Autumn Term
1 Ecosystems of the planet

Ecosystems include abiotic (weather, climate, soil) and biotic (plants, animals, humans) components which are interdependent.

Overview of the global distribution of polar regions, coral reefs, grasslands, temperate forests, tropical rainforests, and hot deserts.

Overview of the climate, plants and animals within these ecosystems.

The location of the tropical rainforests including the Amazon, Central American, Congo River Basin, Madagascan, South East Asian and Australasian

The location of warm water coral reefs including the Great Barrier Reef, Red Sea Coral Reef, New Caledonia Barrier Reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Florida Reef and Andros Coral Reef

The processes that operate within tropical rainforests, including nutrient and water cycles.

The process of nutrient cycling that operates within coral reefs. 

Two case studies, including one tropical rainforest and one coral reef, to cover: the interdependence of climate, soil, water, plants, animals and their value to humans and to the planet, threats to biodiversity and attempts to mitigate these through sustainable use and management.


Social – including local people in the decision-making process. Provision of an efficient public transport system.

A case study of sustainable urban living.

As above

2 People of the planet

Social, economic and environmental definitions of development, including the concept of sustainable development.

Different development indicators, including GNI per capita, Human Development Index and Internet Users, and the advantages and disadvantages of these indicators.

How development indicators illustrate the consequences of uneven development. 

Current patterns of advanced countries (ACs), emerging and developing countries (EDCs) and low-income developing countries (LIDCs).

Outline the reasons for uneven development, including the impact of colonialism on trade and the exploitation of natural resources.

Different types of aid and their role in both promoting and hindering development. Case study of one LIDC or EDC. This should illustrate its changing economic development, including the influence of and interrelationships between: the country’s geographical location, and environmental context (landscape, climate, ecosystems, availability and type of natural resources) the country’s political development and relationships with other states principal imports and exports and the relative importance of trade and the role of international investment, population and employment structure. Changes over time, social factors including access to education and healthcare provision and technological developments, such as communications technology and one aid project.

Using the case study of the LIDC or EDC explore Rostow’s model to determine the country’s path of economic development.

Definition of city, megacity and world city.

The distribution of megacities and how this has changed over time.

How urban growth rates vary in parts of the world with contrasting levels of development.

Overview of the causes of rapid urbanisation in LIDCs including push and pull migration factors, and natural growth.

Outline of the social, economic and environmental consequences of rapid urbanisation in LIDCs.

Case study of one major city in an LIDC or EDC including the influences of: the city within its region, the country, and the wider world   migration (national and international) and its impact on the city’s growth and character and the ways of life within the city such as culture, ethnicity, housing, leisure and consumption. Contemporary challenges that affect urban change including housing availability, transport provision and waste management  and sustainable strategies to overcome one of the city’s challenges.

As above

Spring Term
1 & 2

Environmental challenges of the planet

Overview of how the climate has changed from the beginning of the Quaternary period to the present day, including ice ages. 

Key periods of warming and cooling since 1000AD, including the medieval warming, Little Ice Age and modern warming.

Evidence for climate change over different time periods, including global temperature data, ice cores, tree rings, paintings and diaries. Theories of natural causes of climate change including variations in energy from the sun, changes in the Earth’s orbit and volcanic activity.

How human activity is responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect which contributes to global warming.

Summary of a range of consequences of climate change currently being experienced across the planet.

Distribution of the main climatic regions of the world.

Outline how the global circulation of the atmosphere is controlled by the movement of air between the poles and the equator.

How the global circulation of the atmosphere leads to extreme weather conditions (wind, temperature, precipitation) in different parts of the world.

Outline the causes of the extreme weather conditions that are associated with the hazards of tropical storms and drought.

The distribution and frequency of tropical storms and drought, and whether these have changed over time. Case study of one drought event caused by El Niño/La Niña:

how the extreme weather conditions of El Niño/La Niña develop and can lead to drought effects of the drought event on people and the ways in which people have adapted to drought in the case study area.

As above

Summer Term
1 Revision

Revision of both physical and human topics using exam papers/question/the revision work booklet and revision booklet

Revision of fieldwork and skills



Resources Topic Type of assessment
CAT 1 Landscapes and People Exam questions
CAT 2   Exam questions
CAT 3 All year 10 topics Exam questions
CAT 4 Ecosystems of the planet Exam questions
CAT 5 People of the planet/ecosystems of the planet Exam questions
CAT 6 All topics Exam questions

Main Resources

Resource Details Term
Text books All pupils are issued with the OCR A textbook 'Geographical Themes' (published July 2016) All

Recommended websites

Equipment Pencil crayons, stationary, atlas and textbook All

Enrichment opportunities

Activity Day and time or term
Revision Sessions From January onwards on a Tuesday lunchtime
Wide World GCSE Magazine Subscription Pupils to subscribe to these in September – 4 magazines (Sept, Oct, Feb and April) issued each year.
Year 10 Field Work

River Witham - 17, 18 and  19 March

Lincoln - 16, 17 and 18 June

Where Next