Modern geography is far more than merely maps. It is people and places and the interaction between us and our environment – both physical (or natural environment) and the artificial world we have created. There are many issues to study: How we live compared to people in the less developed world. How we use our resources and how wasteful we can be. Whether we need alternative sources of energy and how can we sustain the future demands to power our home, factories, cars and other luxuries? We also look at how the earth came about and study the formation and processes affecting the natural world and how we can and have changed them.
Much of this is taught by active learning and much stimulus from visual sources, images and first-hand experience, as in fieldwork and visits. We stress to the pupils that the future of our planet is important and that it can be affected and altered by their actions.
In the First Year we study the locality and topics include settlement, map work and some comparisons with other countries. We look at scale, distance and direction along with the more traditional 'people and places' type geography.
The Second Year starts off by looking at Brazil and rainforests, before moving on to weather and climate. The geography of coasts and limestone also figure, as well as a study of global warming.
The Third Year concentrates on key geographical skills, as well as looking at topics that are both studied at a higher level, and allow independent research and thought. Population, tourism and hazards are some of the areas studied.
The new GCSE Geography course will see students looking at the physical environment around them as well as how the human environment is dynamic and creates specific management issues. Topics such as natural hazards, physical landscapes, urban issues and resource management can be studied. There is a strong emphasis on the importance of the geography of the UK, and knowledge of place. There is a fieldwork element to the course, which may involve a cost (overnight stay) which is examined in a written paper.
The new A-level Geography course is based on the fundamental issues of the water cycle and carbon cycle before moving into a study of landform systems and global governance. Topics to study can include coasts, glaciation, migration and globalisation. There is also an emphasis on how places and spaces can and do change, as well as an important fieldwork and geographical skills element. All students are required to complete fieldwork activities and there is a resulting cost.
The A-level course looks at aspects of both physical and human geography and has a skills and enquiry theme running through it. The course will be of interest to anyone wanting to know more about the ever-changing world around them, and links both 'arts' and 'sciences' themes. A-level Geography continues to be a fascinating and rigorous programme of study that helps prepare students for a wide variety of further study and careers.
Recent fieldwork locations include The Bay of Naples, Iceland, the west coast of the USA, Ingleton, The Trough of Bowland, The River Brock, Malham and Clitheroe. All pupils are given the opportunity to conduct fieldwork. The department also runs trips to local lectures organised through the Geographical Association and Lancaster University.