Geography

In Geography we study how humans use the world.  We look at the changes that have taken place as a result of the way we live.  We also look at ways humans are changing the way we live in order to live more sustainably.

In the Geography Department we enthuse the pupils with an interest in everything that connects with the world.  It is a broad subject which in S1-S3 enables the pupils to study a range of topics from the moment they arrive.

The courses we run are focused on building the necessary skills for life that the pupils need.  The pupils are assessed using a range of techniques that enable them to show off their knowledge and skills.

The Geography Department frequently runs international field trips, to locations including Norway, the French Alps, Germany, Italy and Morocco.

Potential Careers

Pupils that study geography have gone on to jobs including the following.

  • Energy industry
  • Forestry
  • Outdoor education
  • Tourism
  • Park rangers
  • TV and journalism
  • Politics
  • Town planning and local government

Broad General Education (BGE)

S1

In S1 the pupils follow a common course which takes in Geography, Modern Studies and History.  Over the course of the year the pupils will take each subject for a 6 week block of time.  They will keep the same teacher for this period.

Topics include:

  • The Sat Nav is broken (Mapping)
  • Stereotyping and Discrimination
  • Who was the Greatest Leader of Scotland?
  • Passport to the World (Natural Regions)
  • Let’s change the World! (organising a political campaign)
  • Murder Mystery (Who killed JFK?)

The emphasis is on building skills amongst the pupils that they use to complete a variety of tasks including extended writing, presentations, group work, story boards, poster presentations and many others.

Pupils develop critical thinking and discussion skills, along with having the opportunity to be creative and develop their own informed opinions.

S2 BGE

In S2 the pupils compare rich and poor countries by looking in detail at Japan and Kenya.  The lessons are active and build on the skills they have developed in S1.  We then look at tourism and the pupils will use the computers to investigate aspects of tourism and make a presentation.

Our final unit looks at earth forces and we learn about the causes and effects of volcanoes and earthquakes.  This unit leads into a trip to Arthurs Seat where we look at the extinct volcano and examine evidence from its past.

Pupils continue to develop critical thinking and discussion skills, along with having the opportunity to be creative and develop their own informed opinions.  There is an additional focus on developing literacy skills, particularly extend, formal writing.

S3 BGE

We continue to explore our planet by focusing on different climate regions (rainforest and Tundra).  This leads to us looking at towns and cities and using the pupils own knowledge of their town to highlight the Geography that is around them including transportation methods and how these will change in the future.  We finally study the forces that have shaped Scotland’s landscape and what makes it such a dramatic place for visitors.

Assessment in BGE

Assessment is carried out in a variety of ways and is ongoing throughout the pupil’s time in BGE.  Assessment types range from observation and feedback by the teacher to self- assessed tasks, peer marking and formal class tests.  Pupils are encouraged to be self- reflective on their own performance which helps them take increasing responsibility for their learning.

Senior Phase

S4 National 4 and National 5

The pupils complete units of work in International Trade and Aid, World population changes and Natural Hazards.  Throughout the year the pupils will be taught exam techniques and be given plenty of opportunities to practice what they have been learning in timed conditions.

Added Value Unit

The pupils carry out field based on a trip to Edinburgh. They write this up in class.

For National 5 pupils sit a 1 hour timed assessment about the field work which is worth 25% of their final mark.

All the pupils will be sitting a common course.  The level pupils sit at the end of S4 is decided by having a discussion with individual pupils, observation by the teacher and a review of the pupil’s class work and home work.

National 5 assessment

In preparation for the exam the pupils will sit a Pre-Prelim in September and a Prelim in November.  The final exam is in May.  This way the pupils have more practice at sitting a formal exam and this helps more pupils achieve better marks in their final exam.

Pupils who have passed at National 5 level will be able to sit the Higher course in S5.

S5/6 National 5

This course has three units:

Physical landscapes

The pupils study glaciation in Scotland and around the world and how it has shaped our landscape. They go on to study how people use the landscape and different conflicts that arise when people want to use the same land in different ways.

They also study the features of the coastal landscape and what conflicts occur there.

Lastly pupils look at our weather and study how to read synoptic charts and predict the weather from observation.

Human landscapes

The pupils study modern changes in farming and how that effects our environment both in the UK and around the world. We also look at cities and how they have developed over the last 200 years.  We use Edinburgh and Sao Paulo as case studies and identify zones of the city and make sense of the cities layout. The final unit examines the rising world population and how it will impact on the ability of countries to cope in the future.

Global Issues

This unit looks at hazards (volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes).  We study how they occur and look at specific examples from around the world.  We also study trade and aid around the world and explain why poor countries are poor and how world trade is organised.

Added Value Unit

The pupils carry out field trip based on a visit to Edinburgh. They write this up in class.

The pupils sit a 1 hour timed assessment about the field work which is worth 25% of their final mark.

Throughout the year the pupils will be taught exam techniques and be given plenty of opportunities to practice what they have been learning in timed conditions.

National 5 assessment

In preparation for the exam the pupils will sit a Pre-Prelim in December and a Prelim January.  The final exam is in May.  This gives them more practice at sitting a formal exam and helps them achieve better marks in their final exam.

Recommended entry Progression

Entry to this course is at the discretion of Mr Johnstone (Principal Teacher)

Pupils who would like to study National 5 Geography in S5/6 should have achieved the fourth curriculum level or National 4 Geography or equivalent qualifications prior to starting the National 5 course.

Once a pupil has completed the National 5 course they can progress onto Higher Geography.

Pupils who would like to study Higher Geography in S5/6 should have achieved an A-C pass for the National 5 Geography course or equivalent qualifications prior to starting the Higher course.

Higher

This course is currently split between two teachers and includes the following units:

Lithosphere

This consists of units in Glaciation, and coasts. It examines specific case studies of conflicts that can occur due to land use pressure.

Hydrosphere

This unit looks at the water cycle and rivers.  We study the river from source to mouth and learn how the various features are formed along the way. We finally look at hydrographs and what they tell us about the potential for flooding in different regions.

Atmosphere

This unit looks at our atmosphere and what causes the seasons and how the sun’s energy is distributed around the globe and what consequences this has.  We finally look at climate change and what are the causes, effects and solutions.

Biosphere

The unit examines in detail three soil types and how these are influenced by climate and effected by human activity.

Settlement

The unit examines in detail the urban environment of cities in the developed and developing world. It looks at how they have developed and how they are changing.

Rural Land degradation

The unit looks closely at the causes of desertification in the Sahel zone in Africa.  We examine the consequences and the solutions of this.

Applications

We study real life examples of developments and what the positive and negative consequences of a particular project are. This involves detailed map reading and applying the geographical knowledge they have acquired over the course of the year.

Higher assessment

There are two parts to the assessment.

  1. Assignment

The pupils will carry out a field trip to a river or to Edinburgh.  They will collect data and collate this into a series of graphs.  They will write up their findings in a one and half hour in class assessment.  This is worth 27% of the total mark

  1. The exam

This is spread over two papers sat on the same day.  Paper one covers Physical and Human landscapes and paper two covers Global Issues and Applications.

Trips

The Geography department runs trips from S1-S6.  In S1 we run local trips which use the mapping skills the pupils have been learning.  In S2 we visit Arthurs Seat as well as Surgeons Hall museum.  In S3 we run field work data gathering trips to Edinburgh and a field trip along the canal to look at city zones.  In S5/6 we run field trips to The Water of Leith from source to mouth.

From S4 onwards we offer trips abroad.  In the past these have included trips to Poland, Morocco, Italy, Norway, French Alps, Germany, Spain.

Members of the Geography Department

Mr Johnstone Principal Teacher of Social Subjects
Miss Tavakoli