Departmental approach to the curriculum

Geography at Rickmansworth aims to equip students with a breadth of understanding and detailed knowledge of both human and physical environments.

All students entering Ricky develop the geographical skills that allow them to think critically about real world decisions and are highly sought after by top universities and employers. Geography is one of the top facilitating subjects sought by Russell group universities including Oxford and Cambridge. Every year we have students who gain places at these institutions to read geography or earth sciences.

Fieldwork is an important part of ‘real world’ geography, as such we continue to develop a range of opportunities for our students to travel and experience geography first hand in many places around the UK and the world. These trips are hugely popular, and help inspire students as well as reinforce the relevance of geography to understanding the world around them. 

Our approach to the curriculum is built upon the concepts and places outlined in the National Curriculum. In Years 7 to 9, students therefore follow a varied and vibrant dynamic syllabus which helps develop and deepen their knowledge and understanding of the world around them and gets students to ‘think like a geographer’. The progress made in these years allows students to achieve very well at GCSE geography and beyond.

At GCSE, we follow the AQA (9-1). This course is an enquiry based course and comprises of three papers; human, physical and a geographical skills paper. The course contains compulsory fieldwork. 

At A-Level we follow the AQA A level geography syllabus. As part of the course there is a residential trip, where students develop fieldwork skills that allow them to complete a geographical research project of their own design. This forms their Non-Examined Assessment (coursework). Two papers and coursework form the A-level assessment. All exams are taken in year 13.

Geography can be seen all around us and is in the news constantly. Keeping abreast of current affairs of a social, economic, environmental and political nature is core to being a great geographer.



Year 7

Students are challenged in their geography from the start. In their first term they complete a unit on Rivers which incorporates a range of skills such as decision making, field work, map reading, understanding physical processes and landforms, flooding, and synthesising all of this together. 

In the spring and summer terms, students investigate tectonics and volcanoes, population change and rocks and soil, as well as completing an independent project on global cities. 

Recent changes in the National Curriculum have seen a move away from the traditional approach of acquiring information to “making sense of new information through the active construction of knowledge”. Students need the time to explore new information and relate it to what they already know. It is therefore our role to facilitate this learning through various techniques such as map skills, group work, sorting data, ranking information, along with providing opportunities for data analysis and extended writing.

The Year 7 curriculum provides the opportunities listed above, as students not only make sense of the world around them, but also their own local area. The emphasis is on:

  • Locational knowledge

  • Place knowledge

  • Human and physical geography

  • Geographical skills and fieldwork

Learning is supported by an online platform. Homework tasks are varied and set regularly. There are plenty of opportunities for students to develop their own independent self-assessment skills throughout KS3. Summative assessment is mostly test based, and occurs at regular through the academic year, including a summer exam.

Year 8

Year 8 students have developed a range of skills by now which enables them to engage with some of the most important contemporary geographical issues, such as globalisation (Autumn), climate change (Spring) and coastal change (Summer). They are encouraged to draw deeper links across the curriculum (e.g. to Science via their weather and climate studies), and in the future (to Economics and Business Studies via the Economic World unit).

Students remotely visit a range of places such as Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and the Middle East, as well we “going local” with a microclimate investigation and a place-based study of the affects of coastal processes on the Holderness Coast.

Students are also encouraged to make full use of their devices with suites of lessons built around the use of laptops to foster confidence in research, resource use and production of work digitally.

Learning is supported by an online platform. Homework tasks are varied and set regularly. There are plenty of opportunities for students to develop their own independent self-assessment skills throughout KS3. Summative assessment is mostly test based, and occurs at regular through the academic year, including a Summer exam.

Year 9

“As pupils progress, their growing knowledge about the world should help them deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes”. – The Geographical Association

Year 9 is a critical year for our students, as they have difficult decisions to make when choosing subjects for GCSE. Our curriculum throughout Key Stage 3 aims to provide students with a sense of what is expected at GCSE Level, and many of the topics we study at Key Stage 3 provide the foundation on which GCSE content is delivered.


We have a growing emphasis on the skills associated with writing extended answers and analysing graphs and tables; skills that can be transferred across many subject areas. Physical and human geography topics are delivered through a wide range of media and these are consolidated through rigorous assessment - which again helps prepare students for the demands of KS4 life.

ICT continues to be a key element of our Key Stage 3 curriculum and students are encouraged to be creative in their use of their devices to support their geographical learning of topics such as Cold Environments (Spring) and Urbanisation (Summer), as well as places such as China and Japan (Autumn) and Africa (Autumn and Spring). 

Learning is supported by an online platform. Homework tasks are varied and set regularly. There are plenty of opportunities for students to develop their own independent self-assessment skills throughout KS3. Summative assessment is mostly test based, and occurs at regular through the academic year, including a Summer exam.

Year 10 and 11

The Geography Department follows the AQA 9-1 syllabus, which culminates in three exams:

Physical Geography (90 minutes)

Human Geography (90 minutes)

Geographical Skills (90 minutes)


This exciting course is therefore based on a balanced framework of physical and human geography. It allows students to investigate the link between the two themes, and approach and examine the battles between the man-made and natural worlds.

Students who complete the course will have the skills and experience to progress onto A Level and beyond.

Currently, our Year 10 curriculum ranges from new knowledge in the form of contrasting ecosystems (tropical rainforest and cold environments), to elements that build on prior learning - rivers, tectonics and weather hazards. We also focus on London as our UK city.

We undertake compulsory physical and human geography fieldwork at the end of Year 10 - usually in London. This experience is then reviewed, analysed and evaluated back in the classroom, ready to be assessed at the end of Year 11.

In Year 11, our curriculum covers more of the Paper 2 content - encountering topics covering coastal landscapes, development, economic change in the UK and resource sustainability. Around Easter, students are issued a pre-release issue evaluation booklet, the understanding of which is examined in Paper 3.


Year 12 and 13

The department follows the AQA A Level in Geography.  This specification excites students’ minds, challenges perceptions and stimulates their investigative and analytical skills. The course is a balance of new units that have been added to reflect the world today, and topics that students will be more familiar with. The course is an excellent stepping stone to a degree course in Geography or a Geography-related subject.

The overall curriculum comprises six taught units divided equally between physical and human geography, and a centre-marked Non-Examined Assessment (NEA) that assesses the students’ ability to individually craft a fieldwork enquiry of their choice.


In Year 12 students study the Water and Carbon Cycle and Changing Places - two units that are challenging and novel to students, but we firmly believe establish a strong foundation for studying the other four units. Our Year 12 teaching culminates with a unit on Contemporary Urban Environments. 

Students also undertake a week-long residential field course in Year 12. Here they learn and practice the field skills that they will then employ when they complete their own NEA later in the academic year.

In Year 13 students complete the taught course with units on Hazards, Global Systems and Global Governance and Changing Coastal Environments. Students also complete a comprehensive self-reflection and revision programme as they build towards success in the Summer.

Learning is supported with access to the online textbook via Kerboodle.

Students are assessed regularly throughout the course via end of topic tests, a a UCAS prediction exam at the end of Year 12 and a trial exam in Year 13.



Component 1: physical geography

What’s assessed

Section A: Water and carbon cycles

Section B Coastal systems and landscapes

Section C Hazards

How it’s assessed: written exam 2hr 20 minutes, 120 marks, 40% of A level


Component 2: Human geography

What’s assessed

Section A: Global systems and global governance

Section B: Changing places

Section C: Contemporary urban environments

How it’s assessed: written exam 2hr 20 minutes, 120 marks, 40% of A level


Component 3: Geography fieldwork investigation (NEA)

What’s assessed:

Students completed an individual investigation which must include adat collected in the field. The topic must be based on a question or issue defined and developed by the student relating to any part of the specification content. We normally advise to complete on a topic they have studied.

How it is assessed

3-4,000 words, 60 marks, 20% of A-level - Work is Moderated by AQA

Long Term Curriculum Overviews

'The Big Picture' Curriculum Map

'The Big Picture' Curriculum Map

This document will provide a visual overview of the department's curriculum from Key Stages 3 to 5. This is in a student-friendly format to support them in their understanding the of the department's curriculum. 

Big Picture Curriculum Map - Geography


Department Assessment Matrix

This document provides an overview for assessment for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.

Coming soon


Key Stage 3 Judgement Descriptors

These documents give you an overview of the criteria for Emerging, Developing, Secure and Mastery judgements at KS3 for this subject.

KS3 Judgement Descriptors - Geography - Year 7

KS3 Judgement Descriptors - Geography - Year 8

KS3 Judgement Descriptors - Geography - Year 9

Home Learning

Home learning is used to consolidate, recap and remember students’ learning from the lesson. This is to be applied and assessed as part of the ‘geog your memory’ section of the lesson. Home learning may also consist of work to prepare for the forthcoming lesson.

In geography, it is important to apply students' knowledge to different locations. Therefore, using case studies to consolidate and apply class knowledge is a common home learning task. 

Home learning will be set once per cycle at Key Stage 3 and will increase at Key Stage 4 and 5 as students prepare for public examinations.

How can you help your child succeed in geography?

At Key Stage 3 we really value the contribution parents can make to their childrens’ learning by discussing and questioning the topics they have covered. This is especially helpful when revising for tests.

Geography is rarely out of the news: take time to discuss the major issues of the day. Explore the causes and impacts of, and responses to the story. Assess the social, economic and environmental aspects of the story.

At Key Stage 4 and 5, engaging with GCSE and A Level learning through discussion and questioning, as well as purchasing revision guides and using them actively with our students are helpful ways in which parents can be part of the learning process. 

Parents should regularly review exercise book and online work, at Key Stage 4 assessment folders and at A Level study folders. 

Travelling near and far always helps too!

Our Geography Club is open to Year 7 students - click here to find out more details.  

Helpful websites and further information

Careers in Geography



Geography UK posters