Geography Key Stage 5

At Key Stage 5 students follow the Edexcel A level specification. Students undertake 3 exams and submit one piece of independent coursework worth 20% of their final grade.

Year 12

Tectonic processes and hazards

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and secondary hazards such as tsunamis represent a significant risk in some parts of the world. This is especially the case where active tectonic plate boundaries interact with areas of high population density and low levels of development. Resilience in these places can be low, and the interaction of physical systems with vulnerable populations can result in major disasters. An in-depth understanding of the causes of tectonic hazards is key to both increasing the degree to which they can be managed, and putting in place successful responses that can mitigate social and economic impacts and allow humans to adapt to hazard occurrence.

Landscape systems, processes and change

Coastal landscapes develop due to the interaction of winds, waves and currents, as well as through the contribution of both terrestrial and offshore sources of sediment. These flows of energy and variations in sediment budgets interact with the prevailing geological and lithological characteristics of the coast to operate as coastal systems and produce distinctive coastal landscapes, including those in rocky, sandy and estuarine coastlines. These landscapes are increasingly threatened from physical processes and human activities, and there is a need for holistic and sustainable management of these areas in all the world’s coasts.


Globalisation and global interdependence continue to accelerate, resulting in changing opportunities for businesses and people. Inequalities are caused within and between countries as shifts in patterns of wealth occur. Cultural impacts on the identity of communities increase as flows of ideas, people and goods take place. Recognising that both tensions in communities and pressures on environments are likely, will help players implement sustainable solutions.

Regenerating places

Local places vary economically and socially with change driven by local, national and global processes. These processes include movements of people, capital, information and resources, making some places economically dynamic while other places appear to be marginalised. This creates and exacerbates considerable economic and social inequalities both between and within local areas. Urban and rural regeneration programmes involving a range of players involve both place making (regeneration) and place marketing (rebranding). Regeneration programmes impact variably on people both in terms of their lived experience of change and their perception and attachment to places. The relative success of regeneration and rebranding for individuals and groups depends on the extent to which lived experience, perceptions, and attachments to places are changed.

Year 13

The water cycle and water insecurity

Water plays a key role in supporting life on earth. The water cycle operates at a variety of spatial scales and also at short- and long-term timescales, from global to local. Physical processes control the circulation of water between the stores on land, in the oceans, in the cryosphere, and the atmosphere. Changes to the most important stores of water are a result of both physical and human processes. Water insecurity is becoming a global issue with serious consequences and there is a range of different approaches to managing water supply.

The carbon cycle and energy security

A balanced carbon cycle is important in maintaining planetary health. The carbon cycle operates at a range of spatial scales and timescales, from seconds to millions of years. Physical processes control the movement of carbon between stores on land, the oceans and the atmosphere. Changes to the most important stores of carbon and carbon fluxes are a result of physical and human processes. Reliance on fossil fuels has caused significant changes to carbon stores and contributed to climate change resulting from anthropogenic carbon emissions. The water and carbon cycles and the role of feedbacks in and between the two cycles, provide a context for developing an understanding of climate change. Anthropogenic climate change poses a serious threat to the health of the planet. There is a range of adaptation and mitigation strategies that could be used, but for them to be successful they require global agreements as well as national actions.


Superpowers can be developed by a number of characteristics. The pattern of dominance has changed over time. Superpowers and emerging superpowers have a very significant impact on the global economy, global politics and the environment. The spheres of influence between these powers are frequently contested, resulting in geopolitical implications.

Health, human rights and intervention

Traditional definitions of development are based largely on economic measures but have been increasingly challenged by broader definitions based on environmental, social and political quality of life with many new measures used to record progress at all scales in human rights and human welfare. There are variations in the norms and laws of both national and global institutions that impact on decisions made at all scales, from local to global. These decisions lead to a wide range of geopolitical interventions via international and national policies, from development aid through to military campaigns. The impact of geopolitical interventions on both human health and wellbeing and human rights is variable and contested, with some groups appearing to benefit disproportionately, which can lead to increasing inequalities and injustice.