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Subject Overview

Geography is essentially the study of the inter-relationships between human and physical environments, impacts of people on places and places on people. The world is its field of study. Geography is powerful, important and necessary now and for the future.

Switch on your television, listen to the radio or pick up a newspaper and the environment seems to be top of everyone’s agenda. We are bombarded with facts and figures relating to the need for energy conservation and climate change. Did you know that:

  • Each person in Northern Ireland uses an average of 145 litres of water per day.

  • Every household in the UK generates around six tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

  • UK households are wasting approximately £979 million worth of energy per year by leaving gadgets and appliances unnecessarily on standby.

The study of geography helps students have a clearer understanding of this important world issue. Geography is the study of the earth’s landscapes, peoples, places and environments – both its physical features and its political and cultural characteristics. Geographers work to examine and solve issues like those above by looking at:

  • Patterns on the earth and the processes that created them

  • How places differ from one another

  • The impact of people on the environment

  • The sources and impact of pollution

  • Strategies for environmental protection and restoration

Geography involves a synthesis of facts, figures, ideas and perspectives to help us understand and protect the world we live in. By studying geography, students learn about important contemporary issues like global warming, desertification, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, groundwater pollution and flooding.

Key Stage 3

Year 8 - Topics in Year 8 include

  • It's Geography!

  • Mapping and Making Connections

  • Our Global Connection with Nigeria

  • Settlement

  • Rivers

  • Our Restless Planet

Year 9 - Topics in Year 9 include

  • People and the Planet

  • Coasts

  • Weather and Climate

  • Ecosystems

  • Crime

Year 10 - Topics in Year 10 include

  • Development

  • Close up on China

  • Global Fashion Industry

  • Coffee Break

  • Tourism

Key Stage 3 Extra Curricular Activities/Trips/Industry links


Geology Rocks – Rathlin Island – Year 9

This is a three-day residential trip involving the students collecting various flora and fauna from the shore and learning about biology, geography and geology on the island. They will collect some data across the intertidal zone, pointing out interesting variables and their interactions across this important environmental gradient.

Key Stage 4


Why Study the Subject

Geographers are among the most employable university graduates. Geography is a broad based academic subject which will open up options for you in your future. Employers and universities see geography as robust, academic subject rich in skills, knowledge and understanding. As a subject linking the arts and the sciences it is highly flexible in terms of what you can combine it with, both at GCSE and A Level. If you choose to take geography on to university, there are literally hundreds of courses to choose from and the range of career areas accessed by graduates of geography will probably surprise you. Plus, you get the opportunity to engage in a river study in Newcastle, County Down in Year 11.

Assessment structure

Year 11 Exam | Unit 1 - 40%

Year 12 Exam (Fieldwork) | Unit 3 - 20%

Year 12 Exam | Unit 2 - 40%

Year 11 - Topics include

Unit 1: Understanding Our Natural World

  • Theme A: River Environments

    The Drainage Basin: a Component of the Water Cycle  

    River Processes and Landforms

    Sustainable Management of Rivers

  • Theme B: Coastal Environments

    Coastal Processes and Landforms

    Sustainable Management of Coasts

  • Theme C: Our Changing Weather and Climate

    Measuring the elements of the weather

    Factors affecting Climate

    Weather systems affecting the British Isles

    The Impacts of extreme weather events on people and property

  • Theme D: The Restless Earth

    Plate Tectonic Theory
    Basic Rock Types
    Managing Earthquakes
    Volcanoes characteristics and consequences

Year 12 - Topics include

Unit 2: Living in Our World

  • Theme A: People and Where They Live
    Population Growth, Change and Structure
    Causes and Impacts of Migration

  • Theme B:  Changing Urban Areas
    Urban Land Use
    Issues affecting inner city areas in MEDC’s
    Urbanisation in MEDC’s and LEDC’s

  • Theme C:  Contrasts in World Development
    The Development Gap
    Sustainable Solutions to problems of Unequal Development
    Globalisation Problems

  • Theme D: Managing Our Environment
    The human impact on the environment
    Strategies to manage our resources
    Sustainable Tourism

Unit 3: Fieldwork (River Shimna, Tollymore Field Centre)

  • The Geographical Enquiry Process

  • Planning (Including aims and hypotheses)

  • Fieldwork Techniques and Methods

  • Processing and Presenting Data

  • Analysing and Interpreting Data

  • Drawing Conclusions

  • Evaluating Fieldwork

Employability/job opportunities/further study


There are many career opportunities for students who study geography


  • Urban Planner/Community Development

  • ​Cartographer

  • GIS Specialist

  • ​Climatologist

  • ​Transportation management

  • Environmental Management

  • ​Teaching

  • Emergency Management

  • ​Demographer

  • Marketing

  • Librarian/Information Scientist

  • National Park Service Ranger

  • Real Estate Agent

Key Stage 4 Extra Curricular Activities /Trips/Industry links


Tollymore Field Centre


In Year 11, the GCSE students take part in a study of the River Shimna in the Mourne Mts. The River Shimna rising in Ott Mt and enters the sea in Dundrum Bay.

Students visit 5 sites along the rivers course and measure variables such as discharge, width, depth, velocity, gradient and bedload size and shape.

This day fieldtrip supports the students study of Unit 1 “Rivers” and prepares them for their Unit 3 examination.

Head of Department

Mrs R Kidd

Geography 2.jpg

St Mary's High School, Newry

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