Geography in S5-S6

Purpose and Aims of the Course

Geography opens up for learners the physical and human environment around them and the ways in which people interact with the environment.

The purpose of this Course is to develop the learner’s understanding of our changing world and its human and physical processes. Opportunities for practical activities, including fieldwork, will be encouraged, so that learners can interact with their environment.

In the 21st century, with growing awareness of the impact of human activity upon the environment and scarce resources, the study of Geography fosters positive life-long attitudes of environmental stewardship, sustainability and global citizenship. This qualification will furnish learners with the skills, knowledge and understanding to enable them to contribute effectively to their local communities and wider society.

The contexts for study are local, national, international and global. This Course draws upon the social and natural sciences: interdisciplinary learning is therefore fundamental to geographical study and encourages links with other disciplines.

The main aims of this Course are to enable learners to develop:

  •  a wide range of geographical skills and techniques
  •  an understanding of the complexity of ways in which people and the environment interact in response to physical and human processes at local, national, international and global scales
  •  an understanding of spatial relationships and of the complexity of the changing world in a balanced, critical and sympathetic way
  •  a geographical perspective on environmental and social issues and their significance
  •  an interest in, understanding of, and concern for the environment and sustainable development.

Approaches to Learning and Teaching

A variety of teaching methods will be employed. Students will use a variety of investigative skills including research and cooperative learning strategies.  Mapwork forms an integral part of the course with the skills learned in N5 being developed more fully.  Students will be expected to work individually and as part of a group.

Advance Higher Geography builds on the concepts and skill developed at Higher level.  There is an increased emphasis on developing skills of independent study, co-operative learning, objective thinking and the ability to communicate clearly and confidently.

The skills of independent study, research and critical evaluation which are emphasised in Geography at Advanced Higher level are highly valued by higher education institutions and are transferable to many situations in general employment.  Students will learn how to

  • analyse OS maps in detail
  • the methods and techniques used to carry out fieldwork
  • a range of statistical tests that can be applied to fieldwork analysis
  • how to evaluate sources critically.


Due to the nature of the course much of the work is student centred and research/fieldwork is carried out individually with teacher guidance.  Seminars, discussions and more traditional teaching approaches are used.  The department will run a three day field trip , the most recent to Arran,  in September which will cover most of the physical techniques. It is expected that all students should attend.


Students will be expected to do much of the course reading at home and read through course notes on a regular basis.  A course text will be provided.  Students will benefit from further background reading to help develop their geographical awareness for example keeping up-to-date with geographical developments in the news. Consistent revision of class work will also be expected.  In addition, at least one formally assessed piece of homework will be given per week which will take the form of exam type questions.

Pupils will be expected to research and carry out a range of fieldwork approaches in preparation for the assignment. It is vital that parents are fully aware of fieldwork that students are completing in their own time. Pupils will be expected to risk assess their fieldwork and some fieldwork should be done in pairs or with parent supervision for example river fieldwork.

Advanced Higher

The Folio is mainly completed outwith the classroom. Students must have the motivation to work independently on this with limited teacher support

  • Map work.
  • Practical fieldwork.
  • Numeracy and literacy.
  • Data analysis.
  • Independent research techniques.

‘I enjoyed geography as it taught me about the world around me and geographical issues that are relevant to the modern world.’

Sophie Haldane 6Mo

Is geography for me? 

You will enjoy this subject if: 

  • You enjoy the natural world and are keen to protect it.
  • You are interested in people and places around the world.
  • You want to understand how our world was formed and why it is constantly changing.
  • You think about climate change and global warming.
  • You want to find out about the developing world and its problems.

Influential Geographers

  • Caroline Beaton – Teacher of P4a and former pupil of school. Caroline was so inspired by Higher and Advanced Higher Geography that she decided to take a year out and travel to Malawi and volunteer in an orphanage before commencing her Primary Teaching degree course. In 2007 Caroline and her family set up the charity Kenyawi Kids. Caroline is chairperson of the charity.  
  • Prince William – Graduated from St Andrews University with a degree in geography. He has been involved with many charities including conservation and mental health.
  • Sir David Attenborough – Studied geography, geology and zoology at Cambridge University. He is a presenter, author and conservationist. He has discovered at least 15 new species and is considered to be one of the world’s most influential people.
  • Theresa May – Graduated from Oxford University in 1977 with a BA in Geography. She is the second woman to hold the post of British prime minister (2016 – 2019).