Geography Within The School Curriculum
Every day news bulletins provide coverage of events such as flooding, storms, earthquakes, famines and issues such as global warming. These events are at the heart of Geography which is a multi-dimensional subject. Through Geography there is a focus on human interaction with the physical environment and individual responsibilities and contributions towards a future which is sustainable and inclusive.
Geography is available to all pupils in Dominican College. It is taught to all pupils in years 8-10 and becomes an optional subject at GCSE and A level.
There are six teachers involved in the teaching of Geography:
  • Mrs Reid
  • Mrs Creagmile
  • Mr O’Loan
  • Dr Butler
  • Mrs Shields
  • Miss Teer

In the Geography department we try to provide a broad and balanced geographical education and to stimulate interest within and beyond the classroom.
Geography is becoming an ever more relevant and important area of study in today’s rapidly and constantly changing physical and human environments.
In direct response to these developments the staff of the department have been constantly adapting and absorbing new ideas, skills and techniques.
We are continuing to develop our curriculum in light of current educational and specification changes and endlessly updating resources to keep pace with current affairs and environmental events.


Years 8, 9 & 10 engage in the study of Geography adhering to the principles of the revised curriculum. A thematic approach is adopted and pupils are exposed to a range of physical human and environmental topics with an emphasis on current case studies and personal research.
Year 8 pupils study many topics including weather, rivers, flooding and map work.
Year 9 pupils continue their geographical studies through topics such as ecosystems, tropical rainforests and tourism.

Year 10 pupils focus on global tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, global development, trade and limestone landscapes.
Geography has a unique contribution to make to the school curriculum. It develops pupil’s sense of place, their knowledge and understanding of the world, and appreciation of peoples’ beliefs, values and attitudes while also developing their personal skills and capabilities, especially, Numeracy, ICT and Communication.


Geography at GCSE builds on the knowledge; understanding and skills developed at Key Stage 3 level and is designed to allow progression to the study of Geography at ‘A level.
Pupils will be involved in a variety of activities which will help them develop many of the personal and social skills necessary for adult and working life. These include decision making exercises, debating, role play exercises, thinking skills activities, group work and the use of information technology and GIS. The Geographical Fieldwork Investigation offers pupils the opportunity to be involved in research work outside the classroom.
Fieldwork is an essential component of the GCSE specification, enabling students to identify and collect evidence from primary and secondary sources, analyse, interpret and evaluate data to derive meaningful geographical conclusions. Through fieldwork students develop a reflective and critical approach to their learning while developing a range of investigative skills and techniques.

Syllabus Content
The examination board offered is CCEA. The course of study involves three key elements.
UNIT 1: UNDERSTANDING THE NATURAL WORLD – In this unit pupils’ study the dynamic landscape and its management. The elements include rivers, coasts, flooding, weather systems, plate tectonics and earthquakes,
UNIT 2: LIVING IN OUR WORLD – In this unit pupils’ have the opportunity to develop an understanding of social and economic issues such as pollution, resource management, global development, population pressure, urbanisation, international aid, trade, debt and globalisation.
UNIT 3: CONTROLLED ASSESSMENT – Pupils undertake a residential field study at Magilligan, Co. Derry and will have the opportunity to work as a group collecting first hand primary data which will be used to complete a written fieldwork report.

Examination Structure
G.C.S.E. Geography is modular, as Units 1 and 2 are offered by the Examination Board in the first year of teaching.
   Assessment   Time   Percentage of GCSE 
 Unit 1   Written Examination   1 hr 30 mins   37.5% 
 Unit 2   Written Examination   1 hr 30 mins   37.5% 
 Unit 3 

 Controlled Assessment

 Fieldwork & Completion of a Report 

In Dominican College pupils have the opportunity to sit a modular GCSE examination of Unit 1 at the end of Year 11.
GCSE Results 2015
96% A* - C

KS5 - A Level

At A’ level a teaching programme is designed to meet the needs of all pupils, engage their interest and build on the knowledge, skills and understanding developed during GCSE. The Examination Board is CCEA and pupils complete the A’ level course over a two year period.

AS Component (Year 13)
Two modular units are studied.
Module 1
Themes in Physical Geography. Topics studied include Rivers, Ecosystems, and the Atmosphere. This component involves the application of a range of geographical skills relating to fieldwork. AS pupils visit Murlough beach and sand dunes to carry out a psammosere study to meet the requirements of the AS1 modular examination.
Module 2
Themes in Human Geography. Topics studied include Population, Settlement and Development. This component involves the development and understanding of geographical, cartographic and statistical skills in geographical contexts. As fieldwork is a compulsory requirement, pupils visit Newcastle Co. Down to investigate the impact and management of Tourism.

AS2 Component (Year 14)
A further two modules are studied to complete the A’ level course. In each of these themes pupils will have the opportunity to examine many of the major environmental, social, political and economic issues facing the world today.
Module 3
Topics are selected from a range of human themes and global issues. These include Population, Ethnic Diversity, Planning for Sustainable Settlements, Air Pollution, Nuclear Energy, Tourism, Agricultural Change and Genetically Modified Food Production.
Module 4
Topics are selected from a range of physical themes which include Fluvial and Coastal Environments, Tropical Ecosystems and the Dynamic Earth (Earthquakes and Volcanoes). This synoptic module will require students to evaluate case study material and engage in decision making activities.

AS/A2 Components
Pupils will be involved in a variety of activities which will help them develop many of the academic, personal and social skills necessary for further education, as well as adult and working life.
A’ level Geography provides pupils with the opportunity to:
  • Study the inter-relationships between people and the environment and the ways in which considerations of sustainable development affect the planning and management of environments and resources.
  • Study the geographical aspects of contemporary social, economic, political and environmental issues.
  • Develop as global citizens who recognise the challenges of sustainability.
  • Become adept in the use and application of skills and modern technologies through their geographical studies.
  • Become involved in decision making activities, developing and justifying conclusions, reporting and communicating findings in ways appropriate to the task and the audience.

Examination Structure
The Examination Board is CCEA and the assessment format is illustrated below.
 Module  Assessment Unit  Type of Assessment  Assessment Weighting
 1.    AS 1   Written Paper (Year 13) 

 50% of AS

 25% of A' Level 

 2.   AS 2   Written Paper (Year 13) 

 50% of AS 

 25% of A' Level

 3.   A2 1   Written Paper (Year 14)   25% of A' Level 
 4.   A2 2  Written Paper (Year 14)  25% of A' Level
There is NO coursework requirement in AS or A2.
AS qualifications are awarded grades from A to E.
A2 qualifications can include an additional A* grade for high-achieving candidates.
AS Results 2014 - 89% A*-C
A2 Results 2014 – 94% A*-C

Further Studies/Careers

A’ level Geography will, in conjunction with other subjects, open opportunities to a wide range of Further and Higher Education courses. In the past pupils have gone on to study degrees in Arts, Science, Social Science, as well as many others highlighted below.

 Management and Administration  arrow  Public Relations: Estate Agents: Local Government: Retail Management: Civil Service: Personnel Management
 Education, Professional & Social Services   arrow  Social Work: Law: Fire/Ambulance service: Research: Teaching/Lecturing: Social Administration
 Business & Finance  arrow  Advertising: Banking: Market Research: Insurance: Accounting: Exporting
 Leisure, Travel & Tourism  arrow  Travel Agent: Tour Operator: Air Traffic Control: Courier: Air Crew: Tourist Board
 Environmental Management  arrow  Architecture: Forestry: Nature Conservation: Urban Planning: National Trust: Industrial Development
 Information Services  arrow  Archivist: Radio: Information Office: Journalism: Museums: Publishing
 Scientific Services  arrow  Cartography: Computing: Meteorology: Geology: Surveying: Photography



In Year 10, pupils undertake a study of limestone landscapes in County Fermanagh.
All Year 10 pupils visit the Marble Arch Caves in County Fermanagh to reinforce their learning of limestone landscapes. Education officers provided guided tours of the underground caves, including a boat trip so that pupils could experience features such as stalagmites and stalactites. In addition, surface limestone features are presented in a guided tour of Cuilcagh Mountain and Cladagh Glenn.
In Year 12, pupils undertake a study of the fluvial characteristics of the Curly Burn River on a residential field study at Magilligan, Co. Derry.
Pupils plan, conduct and complete a report as part of their Controlled Assessment in GCSE Geography (a component which comprises 25% of their final result.) Pupils work collaboratively and use equipment safely to collect primary data for eight river sites along the Curly Burn. At the field Centre, pupils benefit from the expertise, resources, equipment and advice provided by the staff.
In Year 13, pupils undertake a study of a Coastal Psammosere at Tyrella Beach, CountyDown.
Pupils complete a psammosere study along the sand dunes of Murlough Beach, County Down. As a compulsory requirement of the CCEA A Level specification, pupils must engage in primary data collection and produce a collated table of results for prior submission to their examination. A brief fieldwork report and the tabulated data are required for Section A of the AS 1, modular examination. This fieldwork component comprises 30% of this paper and it is essential that rigorous and accurate data is compiled in the field. As well as gaining an understanding of this unique and specialised ecological environment, the fieldwork also allows pupils to develop their communication, social and team work skills.
In Year 14, pupils undertake a study of Tourism Management in Newcastle, County Down.
Primary data collection is a specific requirement for the A21 modular examination. Pupils study ‘Tourism’ as their selected ‘Global Issue’ and thus their prescribed fieldwork task involves an investigation of tourism management. Newcastle, County Down. Pupils complete a land use survey, mapping of tourism mapping methods and also engage in public questionnaire surveys to elicit public perception of the impact and management of tourism in this ‘honeypot’ town. The primary data collection activities also provide an ideal opportunity for pupils to develop their team building skills and group work is essential to cope with the time constraints.


Geography Trip To Iceland
In November 2013, 46 pupils (Years 11-14) and 4 members of staff went on an educational visit to Iceland. Many exciting excursions and interesting sites were visited over the four day period, including:
 Hellisheiði Power Plant
 Hellisheiði plateau
 Kerið, a lake filled extinct volcanic crater
 The Golden Waterfall of Gullfoss
 The spectacular waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógarfoss
 Great Geysirs, including ‘Strokkur’ the most active
 Þingvellir, a remarkable geological site and national park
 The Blue Lagoon
 A successful search for the Northern Lights
 The greenhouses of Hveragerði
 The towering strato volcano Eyjafjallajökull
 Dyrhólaey, a magnificent rocky headland with sheer cliffs
 The beautiful village of Vík
 Reynisdrangar rocks - 66 meters above sea level at their highest
 A guided walking tour of Reykjavik

An extract from a pupil’s description of the first day of the Iceland trip in 2013 is outlined below. It provides a flavour of some of her memorable experiences.

The next Trip to Iceland is October 2015!

A’ Level pupils are encouraged to attend evening lectures held in QUB Geography Department on a monthly basis. A guest speaker provides a lecture on a topic which forms a part of the current CCEA A’ Level syllabus. The lectures for 2014/2015 included:

  • Flooding in the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin in Bangladesh
  • Sustainable management of the Peak District National Park
  • The epidemiological transition: models and examples
  • Skills and Techniques in AS Geography
  • Decision Making in Geography

This year, as in previous years, the lectures have been very relevant, informative and well attended by both pupils and teachers.

The Dawn ‘til Dusk conference is hosted by The School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering in Queens’ University, Belfast.
In October 2014 this conference was attended by Mrs Reid and Sixth form Pupils. The aim of the conference was to understand how the planning system manages change in Belfast City Centre. There were a variety of workshop activities planned for pupils and teachers. Invaluable case study information for the Sustainable Settlement Unit of A21, was delivered through the course of the day.
A2 Geography pupils have the opportunity to attend a lecture, debate and workshop programme for a specialised area of geographical study.
Emma Colten attended ‘Living with Uncertainty’. This prestigious residential lecture programme addressed a myriad of global, environmental and social problems and reviewed the methods for predicting such problems with reflection on potential solutions. Emma had the opportunity to participate in group discussions, debates and workshop activities as well as to develop her academic geographical knowledge.
Rosanna Hagan attended ‘Sustainable Living’. This prestigious lecture, debate and workshop residential programme introduced pupils to the diverse approaches to the study of Geography with a critical perspective on geographical processes and methodologies. In addition, relevant A2 themes were incorporated into the lecture programme which presented current research.
The Geography department lead a series of Easter revision days for both GCSE and A level pupils:
Workshops are designed to provide revision and examination practice for Year 11 and year 12 pupils to help enhance examination performance in the Unit 1 and Unit 2 module of GCSE.
These full day revision courses are structured to encompass elements of human Geography, physical Geography as well as essential skills and techniques required for both AS1 and AS2 modular components.


Dawn Til Dusk




Geography Department


Iceland Trip






38 Fortwilliam Park,

Belfast, County Antrim

BT15 4AQ

028 9037 0298