Geography GCSE and beyond

Geography is an incredible subject. Ok, I might be a little biased (having done a GCSE, A Level, Degree, Masters, PhD and then lecturing in Geography!), but I believe that Geography is an excellent subject to study from GCSE level and then beyond.

The task of choosing what subjects to take for your GCSEs can be an incredibly daunting one. I certainly found it very difficult as I was, what my teachers called ‘a good all-rounder’; I was just as interested in the science lab as in English, or as in Maths classes or in the art studio. I think this was why I found choosing my GCSEs so tricky, I liked so many subjects, that I just didn’t know what to choose.

This is why I found Geography to be my subject of choice, from GCSE onwards to both undergraduate and postgraduate level – because of it’s fascinating complexity, breadth and requirement of both scientific analysis and theoretical insights.

It is the continual contemporary relevance of Geography that constantly excites me. In the wake of climate change, flooding from sea level change, the economic downtown, increasing global population and urban development, the need for Geographers and Environmental Scientists is ever more pressing.

Geography GCSE courses (across most exam boards) offer an incredibly exciting array of modules that are highly relevant to the contemporary world around us. Most courses are divided between Physical Geography (with modules such as Climate change, Coasts, Glaciers, Natural Hazards, Ecosystems and Environmental sustainability) and Human Geography (with modules such as Globalisation, Economic change, Development, Urban environments and Wasting resources). Alongside this, courses teach you key research and cartography skills along with getting to go on fun fieldtrips.

At Geography A Level, you are then able to explore these specialisms at a greater level of complexity and a degree in Geography can enable you to study topics that you may have never come across before. For my degree at the University of Nottingham, I was able to take modules in Medical Geography, Biodiversity, and Economic Geography and learn about exciting issues such as the geographies of fashion and food.

Most good degree course also equip you with a fantastic set of research skills, teaching you how to do both quantitative and qualitative analysis, so that you are able to go out in the field and conduct your own research in your final year. In addition, there are normally excellent opportunities to travel. For example, whilst I lectured this year in the Geography department at Queen Mary, University of London, students went on international field trips to Boston, New Zealand and India.

Students in their final year also have the option of going on to lots of exciting different career paths. Because of the contemporary importance of geographical issues, the ability for students to specialise in a wide array of topivs and the skills acquired in analysis and research, Geography students are often attractive potential candidates to employers. Geography can go on to open up paths into some fascinating and varied industries; from environmental science to banking, from urban planning to tourism, or from financial analysis to coastal protection.

So if you are having some troubles on deciding on what GCSEs to pick, or if you are thinking of going to do a Geography degree or A Level – why not give Geography a go? With its fascinating range of contemporary issues you’ll be hard pressed to not find something that excites you. Plus its popularity with employers and excellent career options is an added boon. So – why Geography? Why on earth not?!!!!



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Additional resources:

Geography Has Come of Age
Geography at University
A Geography Revision Guide

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