The Geography department is staffed by three subject specialists, all of whom are passionate about the subject and who also enjoy communicating their enjoyment of geography to the pupils. The subject’s popularity can be judged by the significant number of pupils opting to study it in Key Stages 3 and 4. Indeed, currently 78 Year 11 pupils (over ¾ of the year (2015-16)) study geography at GCSE level.



Teaching Staff

Dr. P. Finlay (Head of Geography)
Mrs. L. Aitcheson (Senior Teacher)
Mrs. B. Lavery


Teaching and Learning Aims

As a department, we want our pupils to enjoy geography at school and develop a spirit of inquiry about their personal and local geographies as well as the wider national and international context. We also hope to equip pupils who will not continue studying geography after leaving school, with the skills and interests that will enable them to take pleasure in the subject.

We also believe that an appreciation of geography and the world around them allows pupils to become global citizens with an understanding and empathy of all those they meet. We believe that the skills pupils develop as they study geography will be indispensable in the world of employment.

Key Stage 3 summary

Year 8

Pupils will study basic skills in geography including maps, grid references, scale, direction and distance. Pupils then move onto the study of Northern Ireland and UK physical and human geography (including key towns and cities) before studying settlement. Towards Easter, pupils begin their study of plate tectonics to include an investigation into earthquakes: their prediction and countries’ reaction to them. In the summer term, our attention turns to a study of weathering and erosion.


Year 9

Pupils will study a range of diverse topics in Year 9 starting with weather and climate, to include climate change. We then study ecosystems, with a particular emphasis on the tropical rainforest biome and the challenges this biome is facing throughout the world. Linked to this, the next topic is people and resources, where a detailed study of the earth’s diminishing natural resources is undertaken. Finally, we look at the threat of global warming and the potential physical and human impacts.  

Year 10

Pupils start the year with an in-depth study of the three main types of rock. They then focus on limestone and the conflicts that can occur in the Peak District National Park. Pupils then move on to a study of tourism, investigating why numbers have increased; the scale of tourism; and the threat to popular sites around the world. We then study coasts, to include landforms and problems of coastal erosion. Finally, pupils will study development and global issues. All of the above topics are covered at GCSE, so we prepare our potential Year 11s well.  



The emphasis of the course is on developing an understanding of physical geography processes and contemporary issues in human geography. 25% of the mark is from Controlled Assessment. All examinations will be taken at the end of Year 12.




Physical Geography

Paper 1 (1 ½ hour examination)


Human Geography

Paper 2 (1 ½ hour examination)


Controlled Assessment

2500* word Controlled Assessment

* Guidance only




Students are required to study 2 modules for AS level and 2 for A2. 

Year 13 (AS) (First teaching from September 2016)



Mode of Assessment



AS 1: Physical Geography

External written examination: 1 hour 15 minutes

40% of AS

16% of A Level


AS 2: Human Geography

External written examination:
1 hour 15 minutes

40% of AS

16% of A Level



AS 3: Fieldwork Skills and Techniques in Geography

External written examination: 1 hour

20% of AS

8% of A Level

Year 14 (A2)



Mode of Assessment



A2 1: Human Geography and Global Issues

1 hour 30 minutes

25% A level


A2 2: Physical Geography and Decision Making


2 hour 30 minutes

25 % A level

Extra Curricular/Extended Learning Opportunities

Key Stage 3

Each year we visit The Giant’s Causeway to illustrate the work we do on tectonic activity in Year 8. 

Key Stages 4 & 5

Each year we go to Magilligan Field Centre, Co. Londonderry, to complete the Controlled Assessment tasks with the Year 11 pupils. Additionally, in Year 13, pupils get the opportunity to go to the UMBRA Nature Reserve close to Downhill on the North coast to complete their AS sand dune study. We have also, as part of the GCSE course, visited the Amalfi Coast (including a visit to Pompeii and Vesuvius) and Rome in 2013. Between the 4-7 November 2016, the Geography Department will take a trip to Iceland. Each year we also get external speakers in,

Career Opportunities

There are very few careers for which geography is absolutely necessary. However, there are many for which it is helpful, e.g. law, town planning, (including studying GIS), teaching, weather forecasting, the civil service and the burgeoning tourist industry. Studying geography to degree level encourages students to think and argue logically, discriminate between what is relevant and irrelevant, biased and unbiased, and carry out investigations for themselves. These skills are obviously useful in a wide range of jobs, and geography graduates from Queen's in the past few years have found employment in industrial management, the armed forces, social work, the media, tourism, banking, insurance, accountancy, the civil service, law and teaching.