Understanding today’s global issues, from climate change to migration, requires both a strong appreciation of temporal and locational change and an academic knowledge of the myriad sub-disciplines that form Geography.
During their time at St Paul’s School, pupils have a unique chance to gain a detailed understanding of the principal drivers of the modern international economy through Geography.
All pupils study Geography in the Fourth Form (Year 9), with over a hundred choosing to continue to GCSE. They gain an appreciation of the implications and vast opportunities presented by globalisation and hyper-development, a scientific understanding of the formation of the Earth and the geographical processes to be found in the wider solar system, as well as developing the analytical skills to make sense of contemporary conflicts.
Pupils study the OCR B GCSE specification. The course examines some of the most engaging components of contemporary human and physical geography, providing an opportunity to delve deeper into themes that many will only have briefly touched upon in the past. The course is split into two broad sections:
- People & Society – covering urban futures, dynamic development, resources reliance and the UK in the 21st century.
- The Natural World – covering global hazards, distinctive landscapes, changing climate and sustaining ecosystems.
The CAIE specification forms the basis of the international A Level study.
The human element focuses on key components and skills particularly relevant to global finance, management, law and politics. The topics range from the study of the implications of sweeping demographic change across the developing world, to the unfolding crisis in global energy supplies and the challenges posed by rapid urbanisation. The course allows a detailed examination of the economic transition shaping the course of development in the 21st Century and the challenges posed by management of increasingly complex societies.
Within the physical component, the topics reflect the global agendas of governments, corporations and the wider scientific community. Careful consideration is given to the implications of the expansion and intensification of harsh arid environments, especially in regions already facing acute population pressure, before weighing up the considerable potential to revolutionise our control of the most precious of resources; water. Time is then spent exploring the complex relationship between human activity and the climate, while with the cost of natural hazards estimated to be $2.5 trillion since 2000, the course also examines the science behind tectonic and other hazardous events.
With no coursework in either year, the pupils are able to focus on the parts of the subject they are particularly interested in and to develop an extended research project that often forms the backbone to any university interviews or applications.
Given the location of the school, both school and pupils are very active participants in Royal Geographical Society events. In addition, we take advantage of university and think-tank evening lectures in London. A vibrant Geography Society, run by pupils, pulls together all the various strands of the subject, creating a strong community for Geographical study.
The department has also taken pupils on overseas trips to Morocco, the Azores, Iceland and Botswana. Fieldtrips, closer to home, are compulsory in the Fifth and Sixth Form (Year 10 and 11) to Nine Elms and Richmond Park, while in the Lower Eighth Form pupils visit the River Tillingbourne in Surrey and the City of London, Tower Hamlets and Docklands.