A Level Geography

When planning to study Geography at A level your learning from GCSE is your foundation to build on. When you start the A level Geography course we will begin with Topic 1: Earth Life Support Systems.

This topic forms the basis of study for much of the rest of the course as you progress through your 2 year A level.

In topic 1 you will learn about natural systems that keep Earth habitable for life and the important components of those systems, in particular those which help to regulated climate. These include oceans, key ecosystems like tropical rainforests and Arctic ice and glaciers.

Later topics in the course will include glaciations and oceans and in depth study of climate change which looks at how all these different Earth life support systems are being impacted by human activity.

To help you get a head start useful topics to revise from GCSE Geography would include;-

  • The water cycle
  • Tropical rainforests
  • Glaciation
  • Global warming and human impacts
  • Tectonics

As part of your A level you will be required to complete an independent investigation into a chosen topic based on practical fieldwork. This coursework counts for 20% of the total mark towards your final A level grade.

This means that practical geographical skills are an essential of the course including map work and interpretation of data. These skills will underpin much of geographical studies and be essential for your coursework.

It would be very useful for you to ‘brush up’ on some of these skills before your start in September.

Some taster tasks to help you prepare for some of these topics are suggested below;

Topic Tasks


Water Cycle Google the water cycle and identify the main ways that water moves between the atmosphere, biosphere (living things), hydrosphere (surface water such as rivers & oceans) and lithosphere (rocks)

Put the ways you have identified into 4 categories: Inputs of water, Outputs of water, Stores of water, Transfers or flows of water

Draw a simple flow diagram: INPUTS _ STORES_FLOWS_OUTPUTS


Global Warming Watch David Attenborough’s recent BBC programme on the iplayer-“Climate change: The Facts” www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00049b1/climate-change-the-facts

The programme is divided into 3 parts; causes, impacts, solution

Make a table as below to briefly summarise the main points under the following headings:

Causes Impacts  



Tropical Rainforest



Look at the picture of the rainforest in Sarawak, Malaysia and read the article. Complete Activities 1 and 2.

Look at the climate data for London and Sarawak. Using graph paper draw a climate graph for each of the 2 locations. Put months along the bottom x axis (Jan – Dec). You will need 2 y axis (left and right). Make one of these for rainfall and the other max temperature. For each month do rainfall as vertical bars and temperature as a point. Then join all the points to make a single line for the year.

Compare the results and describe the differences.


Glaciation Look at the photo and map of the Fox glacier in New Zealand.

Use the contour heights to find; a) the attitude of the top of the glacier and b) the height of Mount Garnier.

Give the 6 figure grid reference of Mount Garnier.

Print the map and draw a straight line with a ruler from the top of the Fox glacier to the bottom. Where the contours cross your line identify the approximate height at each point. You will then have a line showing the slope (long profile) of the glacier from top to bottom.

On a sheet of graph paper (or using an excel spreadsheet) plot the long profile as a graph in the same way you would plot a cross section. The bottom x axis is distance and the y axis is height. Use the information sheets to help you do this.



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