Through the Cambridge IGCSE Geography syllabus, learners will develop a 'sense of place' by looking at the world around them on a local, regional and global scale. Learners will examine a range of natural and man-made environments, and study some of the processes which affected their development. They will also look at the ways in which people interact with their environment, and the opportunities and challenges an environment can present, thereby gaining a deeper insight into the different communities and cultures that exist around the world.
What do you enjoy about the subject?
Alice: I think by learning Geography we can learn about the various demographics in the world. All the facts and statistics are very interesting to learn about.
Raisa: What I enjoy about Geography is mostly the fact that it encompanses other subjects such as History because you look at different case studies from maybe decades ago and essentially you take a look at economics, you take a look at trade, and business as well. I just like how its well rounded in that area.
What is the most challenging thing about the subject?
Alice: For us, it’s mostly case studies because you have to memorise all the facts and statistics of a specific area and memorising them can be quite hard sometimes.
Raisa: And it’s not just like memorising one case study for one topic, it’s like memorising five case studies for one topic. You cover at least five other topics so that’s quite a wide range that you have to remember. It’s just not as easy to remember compared to just basic general knowledge that you learn so that addition is very hard to cope with.
Why did you choose this subject?
Alice: For me, my KS3 Geography lessons were always really fun. We had a lot of projects and posters to make so it thought I would have good experiences in year 10 as well in my Geography lessons.
Raisa: What’s funny for me is, it was quite different from her experience because right before I started choosing my subjects fr IGCSE in year 9, I told myself “Oh, I’m not going to do Geography at all. I DON’T want to do this,” because the experience I had with it was not that good but there were some clashes with my subjects in my blocks so I kind of had to take it anyways. I was like “Ok, fine. I’ll take it.” And then, when I started to properly pay attention to the subject in IGCSE, I started to really enjoy the subject and that’s why I am still taking it for A-Levels.
Was there anything in the subject that was different from your initial expectations? What were the main changes from year 9?
Alice: In KS3, we didn’t really have to memorise many case studies and not a lot of facts and statistics for our exam but in year 10, I came to realise that we have a lot of case studies to memorise for our exam seasons.
Raisa: For me, it’s not so much the case studies but so much how I realised that economics and just knowing how certain things run when you supply the business or even just money; I had to know about this to really understand some of the major topics in A-Levels and in AS, so I found it really difficult to sort of understand the economy and fluctuations of money because that was something that I was really bad at. So I was kind of surprised when I had to learn it but I have adjusted to it so I’m pretty happy with how it’s going.
How are the lessons like?
Alice: For KS4, I think a huge part of Geography is writing and collaboration because so far in my year 10 lessons, there has been a few posters and powerpoint projects that you have present in front of the [class]. You have to write a lot of notes in terms of the graphs or the charts for example [showing] the statistics that are given by the teachers.
What are the skills or knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?
Alice: I think in Geography, the main skills that you will get to enquire are the map skills. You will know how to interpret a map and the different icons for different settlements. If you know how to interpret the map you will be able to know a variety of things by looking at the map. For example how high or low an area is. I think they are pretty useful if you want to travel around in the future by yourself.
Raisa: You have another paper as well which is your physical paper (ie. Alternative to Coursework Paper) for IGCSE at least. It’s basically where you experience or write about experiments you do. Sometimes it’s measuring the height and slope of a beach, etc. So you do get certain mathematical skills, i guess you could say and you learn how to use the instruments. I can’t remember what they are called but you learn how to measure wind (speed and direction) and air pressure. Those things can be very useful and its not something you’re going to learn in any other subject. Apart from that, you also have a very good overall general knowledge of how things generally work in the world and I think that’s a really good skill to have.
How much homework or independent study will I be doing a week in this subject?
Alice: For me, I have Mr. Jon as my Geography teacher and i a week, he barely gives us any homework so it’s really up to you if you have any independent study [of topics that] you think you have to work on at home so that you are prepared for your exams if they are coming up soon.
Any tips for the new Geography students?
Raisa: I think the biggest tip- for Geography that is- would just to be read up on what’s going on in the world because all of what happens, if its to do with [for example,] a hazard- there was a Bali eruption recently. Something like that is extremely relevant in Geography. You talk about it and then you almost dissect what happens and why is happens etc. You also look at different settlements and how they change over time so it’s really something you need to read about yourself. The subject teachers will tell you [about it], they will let you know but when you preread you get ahead of the class and you’re more prepared so that’s the best tip I can kind of give.
How do you study for the subject?
Alice: For me, I have and I had quite a lot of trouble memorising case studies so I used to utilise videos on youtube or the internet to help me with the case studies. For example, you can use National Geographic documentaries for understanding and visually looking at the situation of certain events all around the world. I think watching videos on the internet will be a great help for understanding case studies.
Raisa: Definitely. I think that’s a very important part because not only do a lot of kids do it at home but a lot of teachers will show you tons of videos in class of how things work and why and of all these case studies. It’s super important. I think videos help a lot. Apart from that, it’s just you making sure that you write your notes and you continue to revise it. That’s specifically how I do it. I will write notes from class and then after class, I will write a whole set of notes of the same thing but summarised and more quick to the point so revising it and reviewing it [will be easy]. As well as [that], going to your teachers and asking them any questions- it definitely helps.
Will taking any other subjects help me to be successful in this one?
Alice: There’s this part of Geography where you learn about population demographics and how the population affects certain areas or certain parts of the world, so I think it would really help if you study Economics. In Economics, population is a huge part, because it relates with the money part of Geography.
Raisa: For me, I take History alongside Geography (so I take the two humanities) and how it helps me is just with case studies, because that way I’m able to know a specific date (that I learnt from History lessons) as it’s already embedded in my mind through another subject and I can write it down for case studies in my assessments, so I find taking History alongside with Geography really does help because you not only study the events in history but also how the economies have changed and I think that’s really relevant to Geography.
Overview by Mr Jonathan
Describe your subject in 3 words.
If I were to describe Geography in 3 words, I would say it’s current, relevant and dynamic.
Top 3 skills to be successful in this subject.
You’ll need enquiry skills, observational skills and communication skills.
How does your subject promote personal development?
It’s going to give you critical thinking and analysis skills which are all very important in higher education.
How does your subject promote professional development?
It’s going to give you very diverse options so everything you study at IGCSE and beyond open many pathways. So physical and human aspects of Geography will lead you to different pathways in the future.
What is the best thing about your subject?
I think the diversity is the best thing about Geography. There’s always going to be something for everyone in the subject which you should find interesting.
Papers in IGCSE Geography
Paper 1: Geographical Themes
1 hour 45 minutes
45% of total marks
75 marks, weighted to 100 marks
Required to recall knowledge learnt in lessons.
Paper 2: Geographical skills
1 hour 30 minutes
27.5% of total marks
Required to answer questions based on map skills and interpretation of photographs and figures.
Paper 4: Alternative to Coursework
1 hour 30 minutes
27.5% of total marks
Required to critique and analyse 2 investigations.