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 pupils therefore have a unique chance through Geography to gain a detailed understanding of the principal drivers of the modern international economy.
All pupils study Geography in the Fourth form, with over a hundred choosing to continue to GCSE. All students will 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.
Boys study over a two year period 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 three broad sections:
1) People & Society
a) Urban Futures – while examining the drivers of explosive contemporary urban growth, including unprecedented levels of internal migration, this topic weighs up the clear benefits of urbanisation with the threats presented when natural resources are exhausted and services become overwhelmed.
b) Dynamic Development – from the historic origins of modern international development, to the changing fortunes of BRIC and MINT countries, this topic examines the impact of major demographic, economic, environmental and political trends for many of the world’s developing economies.
c) Resources Reliance – with growing populations across the world, all hoping to be able to consume more energy, food, water and other precious commodities, this topic explores whether we can feasibly meet these demands and what strategies are needed to help prepare us for a very different future.
d) The UK in the 21st Century – posing questions about the changing nature of the nation’s economy and its population, we examine the UK’s future role in a world dominated by rising economic superpowers and new types of conflict.
2) The Natural World
a) Global Hazards – from understanding the fundamentals of plate tectonics and extreme weather, to their impacts on a country’s development and the growing importance of disaster planning to mitigate such hazards, this topic takes us deep below ground and high into the atmosphere while exploring the interaction between physical and human geography.
b) Distinctive Landscapes – from towering mountains, to lowland plains, to deep river valleys and wide open savannahs, why is there so much variation around the world and what processes have shaped the most iconic landscapes in the UK?
c) Changing Climate – building upon the Fourth Form course, we assess whether contemporary climate change is driven by human or natural factors and examine the latest developments in the fast changing topic.
d) Sustaining Ecosystems – from tropical forests to the freezing polar regions, this topic examines the intimate workings of ecosystems, including the dilemmas associated with harnessing the environment for development and considering the most appropriate way to manage critical resources to maximise economic development while preserving them for future generations.
AS AND A LEVEL
The CIE 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. Building upon their work earlier in the school 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 students 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 students 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 Geographical Society, run by the boys, pulls together all the various strands of the subject, creating a strong community for Geographical study. The department in the past few years has also taken fieldwork trips to Morocco and Iceland.
After St Paul's
Geographers are excellent at synthesising complex ideas, thinking critically and making informed decision. Alongside these skills, they are also socially aware, strong communicators and brilliant at working in teams. As more and more of our students pursue careers with multi-national employers, it is no wonder that Geographers are so much in demand. In fact, Geography graduates enjoy some of the highest employability rates and our students have gone on to be anything from investment bankers to award-winning digital entrepreneurs.
Geography Staff Members