The vision of the Geography Department can be summed up in one sentence:
“Inspiring students to lead sustainable lives through understanding the interactions between human, physical and environmental Geography.”
Key Stage 3
Geography is taught by an enthusiastic and dedicated team. The department aims to make every lesson fascinating for the students, delivered with a variety of active tasks. The department uses a range of multimedia resources while maintaining a strong focus on literacy through using geographical magazines such as Wide World.
Students learn about a variety of physical, human and environmental geographical themes following the National Curriculum programme of study and beyond.
- Geography Introduction and Atlas Skills: What is Geography? Understanding countries and continents; regions; latitude and longitude. Investigating amazing places and World Heritage Sites.
- Water, Rivers and Flooding: Providing fresh water to drink; the River Severn; river landforms; flood management. Investigating flood risk in Ruislip using the Environment Agency website.
- Map Skills and the British Isles: Using map symbols; grid references; direction; scale; the difference between Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles. Investigating the highest mountains and longest rivers of the British Isles.
- Cold Environments: The 1953 ascent of Mount Everest; ice sheets and glaciers; Antarctica, the 1911 race to the South Pole and the Antarctic Treaty.
- Settlement: The development of Ruislip using historical and modern Ordnance Survey maps and local history photos; how the London Underground changed Ruislip; local urban fieldwork such as conducting an environmental quality survey; the world's biggest cities and global urbanisation trends.
- Coasts and Oceans: Coastal processes and landforms; Dorset's World Heritage status coastline; How long can the village of Happisburgh hang on from coastal erosion? Jobs at the coast such as working at the UK’s ports, and the growth of container ships.
- Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Investigating the savanna, rainforests and deserts. Biodiversity issues such as the Red List of threatened species, and studying issues such as over-fishing and plastic waste in the oceans.
- Plate Tectonics and Volcanoes: The structure of the Earth and volcanic hazards; examples include the volcanoes of Iceland, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, Mount Kilauea and Mount St Helens in the USA, and the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat. To what extent can volcanic hazards be managed?
- Earthquakes and Tsunamis (and how they link to plate tectonics): Examples include studying the San Andreas Fault in California. How was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused and how did the world respond? To what extent can the tsunami hazard be managed?
- The Geography of Japan: Its physical and human features and cultural Geography; reclaimed land; how Japan has developed to become one of the world’s richest countries.
- World Population: 7 billion and counting: Which countries have the most people? Why is population rising in some countries while falling in others? What is the population structure of the UK? What is a population pyramid? Why has China moved from a one-child policy to a three-child policy?
- Energy and Resources: How long might fossil fuels last and why? (Coal, oil and natural gas). How is the ‘energy mix’ of the UK changing? Why is the UK’s Drax power station moving from burning coal to biomass? Investigating how the UK is the world leader in offshore wind farms. Why is the UK building a new nuclear power station (Hinkley Point C). What is the story of the USA’s Hoover Dam?
- Weather, Climate and Climate Change: Factors affecting the UK’s climate; how weather forecasts are made; understanding weather maps; extreme weather trends; climate change and how the COP26 meeting aims to slow down global warming.
- The Geography of Europe: The capital cities of Europe’s 48 countries; significant human and physical geography of Europe; European country research project; the European Union.
- Journey through Africa: How Africa has more countries than any other continent; the continent’s varied human and physical Geography; Amazing sites of Africa; how Africa is changing.
- International Development: Why countries are considered more or less developed; development indicator statistics; issues facing less developed countries such as rural-urban migration and shanty towns; the work of Hans Rosling on development misconceptions and the Gapminder Foundation; the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
- Brazil and South America: Which countries are in South America and what are its main physical features such as mountain ranges and waterfalls? The physical and human geography of Brazil; issues facing Brazil, such as deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. How important is Brazil on the international stage?
- Globalisation and Earning a Living: Reasons for globalisation; why companies such as Nike and Apple operate globally. The positives and negatives of globalisation. Is anyone to blame for the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh? The UK’s changing economy; examples of primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary employment in the UK.
- Superpower Geography: To what extent is the USA the world’s ‘superpower’ country? To what extent do Russia and China challenge the USA as superpower countries?
- The Middle East: The key physical and human Geography of the region; the background of the Israel/Palestine conflict; how Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has changed.
- Geographical conflicts: Themes include the Falkland Islands; oil spills; Heathrow’s third runway plans; and HS2.
- Tourism: Why is the UK in the world top 10 as a tourism destination? Why does the UK have designated National Parks? Why did Blackpool develop as a significant tourist resort and what is the future of tourism here? Is tourism in the Galapagos Islands sustainable?
Key Stage 4
Geography is a popular GCSE option. Ruislip High School follows the AQA specification. In GCSE Geography, students study a wide variety of interesting topical issues helping them develop a broad understanding of today’s ever-changing world. Geography is also a subject valued by employers, as students develop their literacy and numeracy skills. This is alongside many other transferable skills such as decision-making, report-writing and giving presentations. Students will also use several software packages and learn to use a wide variety of maps at different scales. The course is taught by enthusiastic and knowledgeable subject specialists.
The department has a tradition of taking GCSE students on field trips to the south coast in July of Year 10. The field trip includes stops at Barton on Sea to study coastal engineering, and Hengistbury Head to study coastal landforms and management.
Paper 1 exam: Living with the Physical Environment. 1 hour 30 mins exam. 35% of the GCSE.
Section A: The Challenges of Natural Hazards.
This includes studying tectonic hazards, tropical storms, extreme weather in the UK and climate change. Key case studies include the 2015 Nepal earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan which struck the Philippines in 2013. Students also analyse the 2021 COP26 climate change meeting in depth.
Section B: The Living World.
This includes studying global ecosystems, tropical deforestation, the sustainable management of tropical rainforests, and the characteristics and management of cold environments. Key case studies include the Amazon Rainforest and the islands of Svalbard.
Section C: Physical Landscapes in the UK.
This includes studying the diverse landscapes of the UK such as its major upland/lowland areas and river systems, coastal processes and landforms, coastal management, river processes and landforms, and flood management. Key case studies include the Dorset coastline around Hengistbury Head, the River Severn and the Boscastle village flood management scheme.
Paper 2 exam: Challenges in the Human Environment. 1 hour 30 mins exam. 35% of GCSE.
Section A: Urban Issues and Challenges.
This includes studying global urbanisation trends, the opportunities and challenges of urban growth, major world cities, and how urban planning can improve the quality of life in poorer countries. Key case studies include Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and London as the students’ home city.
Section B: The Changing Economic World.
This includes studying global variations in economic development and quality of life, transnational corporations, international aid, Brazil as a newly emerging economy case study, and a case study of the economic future of the UK.
Section C: The Challenge of Resource Management.
This includes studying the global distribution of food, water and energy resources. There is a focus on energy resources, and the move towards renewable energy sources such as the UK becoming the world leader in offshore wind power.
Paper 3 exam: Geographical Applications. 1 hour 15 mins exam. 30% of the GCSE.
Section A: Issue Evaluation.
A resource booklet on a geographical issue is published in March in the year of the exam. Students then study and research the theme in the following weeks. The Paper 3 exam then sets questions assessing students’ understanding of the issue and their ability to make justified decisions.
Section B: Fieldwork.
Students undertake two geographical fieldwork enquiries on their south coast field trip in July of Year 10. They will then write about their fieldwork methods, results and conclusions in this exam.
Key Stage 5
At A Level the department follows the AQA specification. Sixth Form Geography helps students develop a deep understanding of global issues, and a number of key skills highly valued by employers. Students who study Geography and related subjects at A Level or at university go onto many different types of career, for example chartered surveying, natural resource exploration, town and transport planning, land and water management, environmental consultancy, tourism, conservation, project management, housing and social welfare roles as well as the IT and financial sectors.
Paper 1: Physical Geography (written exam, 2 hours 30 mins, 40% of the qualification)
- Water and Carbon Cycles
- Coastal Systems and Landscapes
- Geographical Skills
Paper 2: Human Geography (written exam, 2 hours 30 mins, 40% of the qualification)
- Global Systems and Global Governance
- Changing Places
- Resource Security
- Geographical Skills
Unit 3: Geography Fieldwork Investigation coursework, (20% of the qualification)
Students complete an individual investigation which includes data collected on a field trip. The investigation is based on a question or issue defined and developed by the student. The fieldwork takes place on a four-day residential field trip to the Norfolk coast in June of Year 12. The Norfolk field trip is a fantastic tradition of the department and very much enjoyed by staff and students!