IGCSE Geography

Why study Geography?

The unique feature of Geography is the breadth of skills it develops, which stands students in good stead whatever future path they choose. Furthermore, its contemporary relevance is unparalleled, particularly in light of the new specifications which, for the first time, integrate human and physical Geography in a style most appropriate for the 21st Century. An essential outcome of learning Geography is to be able to apply geographical knowledge and conceptual understanding to new settings: that is, to be able to ‘think like a geographer’. Thinking geographically is a uniquely powerful way of seeing the world and making connections between the human and physical environment.

Geography helps develop a whole range of employability skills including: 

  • Subject knowledge that is highly relevant to many of the challenges facing society and the environment today;
  • Specialist and transferable skills including statistical, spatial and environmental analysis alongside other quantitative and qualitative skills;
  • Strong analytical and research skills, critical analysis, ability to judge evidence and work across the social and natural sciences;
  • An ability to collect, understand and interpret complex data and communicate it to a variety of audiences;
  • Tackling problems and examining big issues at a variety of scales and from different perspectives;
  • The experience of working in a team, including through field work;
  • An interest in how the world works, contemporary issues and other cultures.

Course description

The advantage of studying the International GCSE is that is allows us to choose case studies from beyond the UK, such as a study of the Caribbean, New York City, Lagos, the Sahel Region and the Amazon Rainforest. The content includes traditional topics such as hazards, coasts and energy – often with a contemporary twist such as the inclusion of extreme weather alongside tectonic hazards – as well as more 21st-century issues such as rapid urbanisation, climate change and globalisation.

Geographical and fieldwork skills are integrated throughout and IGCSE Geographers enjoy two days’ fieldwork spread throughout the course. The assessment of fieldwork skills is integrated into the exam papers so there is no coursework or controlled assessment component to this course.

Topics being studied by the current 5th Form:


This topic looks at the coast, its landforms and the processes that produce them. It also explores the ocean ecosystem: its rich biodiversity and how its resources are exploited and conserved.  There is a huge need for proper management of the coast in the face of rising sea levels and increased intensity of extreme weather events.



This topic focuses on three different natural hazards that threaten people in many parts of the world. Namely tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons), volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. We look at ideas around risk and vulnerability and look at the extent to which responses to these events are linked to economic status.



Over half the world’s population now live in urban areas. The nature and rate of urbanisation varies from place to place and over time. We look at the challenges and opportunities facing cities around the world and how urban living may be made more sustainable.



This topic looks at how economies operate and how they help countries to develop and become more prosperous. Economic activities and lifestyles in the modern world are demanding more and more energy. The question is how to generate this energy – by using non-renewable or renewable resources?



This topic is about the processes and pressures that are making some environments increasingly fragile. Desertification, deforestation and global warming are the root cause of this, but what if anything can be done by way of new technologies and management strategies and where does the responsibility lie – individuals or governments?


There are no particular academic requirements and it combines well with almost every other subject, perhaps best complementing subjects such as History, P&R and Biology. The course would be good grounding for students considering Environmental Studies, Economics, Business or Politics in Sixth Form (as well as Geography!). The syllabus is a reasonable size in terms of volume so self-discipline to keep on top of the material and motivation are vital to success. A genuine interest in the subject matter – i.e. a keenness to read widely, be aware of contemporary, topical issues in the news and to pursue areas of interest in a bit more depth – is a characteristic of the most successful Geographers.

Assessment structure

Paper 1: Physical Geography

70 marks – 40% of the total

1 hour 10 minutes long

Section A: candidates choose two out of three questions on: river environments, coastal environments, hazardous environments.

Section B: candidates answer one question related to their fieldwork day.


Paper 2: Human Geography

105 marks – 60% of the total

1 hour 45 minutes long

Section A: candidates choose two out of three questions on: urban environments, rural environments, economic activity and energy.

Section B: candidates answer one question related to their fieldwork day.

Section C: candidates choose one out of three questions on fragile environments and climate change, globalisation and migration, development and human welfare.

Please note: there is no coursework for IGCSE Geography

Contact for further information

Mr TAJ Rothwell, Head of Geography (tajr@wellingtoncollege.org.uk)

Link to the Edexcel IGCSE specification: