Geography is about the world around us and how we interact with it. It is a broad and varied school subject that encompasses a range of studies including the physical and social sciences and mathematical, scientific and literacy skills. With only a limited time per week with which to study this exciting subject we have drawn up a curriculum that is as wide-ranging as possible and includes the recommendations set out in the National Curriculum. Take a look at the topic lists below to see what is coming up in your geographical studies at Sancton Wood…

Key Stage Three (Years 7 and 8)

Year 7: exploring geography

  1. My home planet

Looking at our planet Earth, we will explore how the planet first formed, how we measure major changes in the earth’s development using the geological time scale and how the arrival and evolution of humans have influenced our planet’s natural environment. Place knowledge is vital and our Year 7s will be undertaking their own research into the 7 continents and major countries around the world and presenting their findings to the class in a joint exploration of our fascinating planet.

2. Treasure seekers (Map skills)

An introduction to the magical realms of cartography, including the history of cartography, mental maps, topographical maps, why maps are still vital and a look at disaster mapping. Students will develop their map reading skills by learning grid references, scale, direction, contours & relief, latitude & longitude and OS maps symbols culminating in the production of their very own treasure maps…

3. My island home:

As part of their place knowledge development we will focus on getting to know our own country better,  including learning the structure of UK/ British Isles and Great Britain, UK weather & climate patterns,  the names and locations of major mountain regions & rivers, and the ethnicity and population distribution of the UK, its major cities and settlement patterns as well as the employment structure and trade of the UK. We will look at the UK’s relationship with the EU and Brexit and learn about our home city of Cambridge.

4. The Orient Express: Exploring Asia

Expanding our place knowledge we will take on the great continent of Asia, finding out about the different and disparate countries and regions that make up this mighty continent. We will take a brief look at its history and explore patterns in its human geography including its economy, ethnicity and population and settlement distribution. Moving on to the physical geography of Asia, we will locate its major rivers, mountain ranges and learn about its climate & biomes to better understand this diverse and mighty land.

5. Land of conflict: The Middle East

The great Arabian peninsula has long been associated with conflict,  but which countries actually constitute the Middle East and what is the region like in terms of its peoples, climate and biomes? Where are Israel & Palestine located and why are their borders so contested? In this topic we will seek to shed some light on this region and increase our awareness and understanding of why it is such a contested land.

6. On Safari : Exploring Africa

Building on their studies in Year 6 we will recap the major physical and human geography features of this giant continent. Building their own independent research, analysis and presentation skills, students will undertake an independent research project on an African country of their choosing so we can put together our own map of this continent of contrasts.

Year 8: Humans, the environment and the world around us

  1. The ground beneath my feet

As an introduction to the subject of geology, we will be delving deep beneath the earth’s crust to explore the origins of our rocky home, the formation and uses of different rock groups and minerals and the relationship between the different rock groups. Focusing on the British Isles we will look at why it is still moving, its mountains and geology and how rocks and minerals break down over time through the processes of physical and biological weathering to end up being recycled across the earth’s crust. Lastly students will learn to identify how geology shapes topography and begin to recognise rock type from landscapes.

2. Extreme Environments: From barren deserts to wild jungles: major world biomes

Complementing the study of ecosystems in Biology, we will be studying the global factors that influence the location of world biomes with a special focus on climatic influences. We will combine an in-depth study of hot desert and tropical rainforest biomes with an analysis of the human impact on fragile ecosystems and explore the idea of sustainable management. Understanding conflicting claims to natural resources is crucial for the effective geographer and we will debate the viewpoints of diverse stakeholders over the ownership of tropical rainforest regions such as the Amazon and reflect on how best to protect the “lungs of the earth”.

3. Precious Planet

Our planet is rich in natural resources and these are not limited to just fossil fuels and minerals. Complementing their science studies, in this geography unit we will analyse the precious commodities of both water and soil to be better understand why they are so vital to our global community and how/ why they are under threat. Within these threats we will study the process of desertification and the fight against it, reflect on how we are ourselves can reduce water loss and live sustainably on our precious planet. We will look at the growth of renewable energy sources in the UK in an effort to overcome the twin challenges of non-renewable energy sources: 1) dwindling global supplies and 2) their global and local environmental damage.  

4. Burning Planet

Global warming and climate change are never far from the news but what exactly do these terms mean, what might be the natural and human influences on them, who is and will be most affected by climate change and what is the evidence that human activity is making it worse? All these questions will be explored and answered in this topic so that students can seek to answer the biggest question of all: is it too late and what can we do?

5. Mighty oceans & rolling waves

The first of our major physical geography topics, students will be learning about the powerful physical processes that shape our changing coastlines, especially in the UK. Students will learn how waves and tides work, how marine processes form both destructive and constructive coasts and how human activities can contribute to their development and change. We will explore how we use our coastlines, their global significance and how we can both exacerbate and manage coastal recession. Closer to home we will analyse the situation at Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast and debate how best to defend this vulnerable coastal village, taking into account national, regional and local budgets and political agendas.  Our topic will culminate in a day-long field trip to the Norfolk coast to investigate and measure coastal processes and see for ourselves the scale of destruction along one of the most rapidly eroding coastlines in the world.

6. Detectives & decision makers (geography field investigations)

Where do geographers get their information from? Where is the proof that these complex physical processes or conflicting land uses actually occur? In this short unit, Year 8 will have the chance to design, carry out and analyse their own data collection on the Norfolk coast to prove or disprove their hypotheses and see for themselves the reality of geomorphological processes and human attempts to manage the natural environment. Using key data collection skills, students will have to decide how best to present and analyse their data, carry out their own fieldwork safely and effectively and evaluate the effectiveness of their investigation.

Key Stage 4 (GCSE Years 9-11)

For a full break down of the course and how it is taught at Sancton Wood please see here: Geography IGCSE summary

For geography GCSE at Sancton Wood we follow the Cambridge International Examination (CIE) Board’s IGCSE syllabus. We begin in Year 9 and our studies include extensive fieldwork skills and map skills as well as the study of various human and physical geographical themes (see below) culminating in three examinations at the end of Year 11. At the end of Year 10, students undertake an intensive 3 day field studies trip to Flatford Mill Field Studies Centre in Suffolk from where we carry out full settlement, rivers and coastal investigations to support the Paper 4 Alternative to Coursework examination.

IGCSE topic list:

Theme 1: Population and Settlement



Theme 2: The natural environment

Earthquakes and volcanoes




Climate and natural vegetation

Theme 3: Economic Development


Food Production





Environmental risks of economic development

Image: taken from; “Understanding Cultural and Human Geography”