IGCSE Geography

IGCSE Geography

Going Places – Geography aims to understand the world and stimulate an interest in places.

We hope to inspire students to become global citizens by exploring their place in the world and their values as well as their responsibilities to other people and to the environment. The content focuses on current issues in a complex and dynamic world.

A modern and engaging approach covers key ideas and debates such as climate change, globalisation, economic progress, urban regeneration and management of world resources. The focus of this course is an understanding of the changing nature of physical and human processes, and of how the physical/human interface needs to be managed in order to ensure human and environmental sustainability.

Students will learn to appreciate the differences and similarities between people, places and cultures, leading to an improved understanding of societies and economies.

The syllabus aims are to develop (in no order of priority):

  • an understanding of location on a local, regional and global scale
  • an awareness of the characteristics, distribution and processes affecting contrasting physical and human environments
  • an understanding of the ways in which people interact with each other and with their environment
  • an awareness of the contrasting opportunities and constraints presented by different environments
  • an appreciation of and concern for the environment
  • an appreciation of the earth including its people, places, landscapes, natural processes and phenomena.

Course Content

The Cambridge IGCSE syllabus is divided into three themes which have been designed to develop an understanding of both the natural and the human environment:

1 Population and settlement

2 The natural environment

3 Economic development.

Resources: Questions in all written papers are resource based. The resources may be photographic, map extracts, satellite images, drawings, diagrams, graphs, text extracts, statistics and tables of data.

Resource materials come from various world areas in order to meet the aims of an international syllabus and examination. Candidates may be dealing with world areas with which they are not familiar. The resources used in questions do not require specific regional knowledge and are designed to prompt candidates to use general principles they have studied.

As an International GCSE, the units used in all resources and examinations will be metres and kilometres for height and distance, and degrees centigrade for temperature.

Case studies: The curriculum gives teachers the opportunity to select their own case studies to illustrate the content. Teachers should select appropriate examples where specified.

For example in topic 1.6, a case study is required of an urban area. This can be in any part of the world. The case study should illustrate all the relevant content listed (i.e. land use, problems of urban areas, their causes and possible solutions). This could be done through the study of one urban area.

Alternatively, teachers can use two or more case studies per topic (i.e. Settlement X could be used for a case study of land uses and Settlement Y for a case study of urban problems).

The same case study can be used to illustrate more than one topic as long as it gives candidates the opportunity to study an example of appropriate content.


Paper 1: Geographical Themes

Written paper, 1 hour 45 minutes, 75 marks

All candidates take Paper 1. Questions on the paper are resource based. The resources are for interpretation and analysis in answering a question or part questions. Candidates will be expected to know the location of the continents. All of the other information required to answer these part questions is within the resource itself. No previous knowledge is needed of the particular illustration presented. What is required is that candidates use the data provided to illustrate their understanding of the particular concept being assessed.

Questions are structured with gradients of difficulty and combine resource-based tasks and free response writing requiring place-specific information.

Paper 2: Geographical Skills

Written paper, 1 hour 30 minutes, 60 marks

All candidates take Paper 2 and must answer all the questions. The paper is based on testing skills of application, interpretation and analysis of geographical information, e.g. topographical maps, other maps, diagrams, graphs, tables of data, written material, photographs and pictorial material, and on the application of graphical and other techniques as appropriate. The questions in Paper 2 do not require specific information of place. Questions within Paper 2 which require knowledge and understanding (AO1) will be based on topics from the three main syllabus themes

Part 3: Coursework

Centre-based assessment, 60 marks

Candidates must complete one coursework assignment, set by teachers, of up to 2000 words. The proposals for the coursework that may be undertaken by candidates must be approved beforehand by Cambridge.

The coursework assignment may be based on physical geography, human geography or on an interaction between physical and human geography and must be clearly related to one or more of the syllabus themes.

Where does it lead?

Geography is very versatile, developing skills that are relevant in a number of different careers or Higher Education courses, such as: interpretation, communication, becoming an effective and independent learner and a critical and reflective thinker with an enquiring mind.

To gain knowledge and understanding of geographical concepts relevant to a changing world and to be able to take responsibility as a global citizen who can recognise how individuals can contribute to a sustainable future is invaluable.

Students of geography might go on to study for university degrees in that subject – or a range of other subjects including: history, sociology, psychology, English and law. Geography is a subject that can support careers in the above areas as well as teaching, logistics, business & finance, journalism, publishing and politics.

Employers view geography as an ideal topic of study and one that develops essential and transferable skills. Indeed a recent survey showed that geography graduates are behind only law and sports sciences in their employability, due to the wide range of transferable skills they have.

Reading List

Cambridge IGCSE Geography Student Book (Collins Cambridge IGCSE) ISBN 978-0007589067

Complete Geography for Cambridge IGCSE (Oxford ) ISBN 978-0-19-839929-2

Wideworld  – Phillip Allan Updates. (5 issues each year) Edited by an expert team of writers, examiners and teachers. Contains articles highly relevant to the GCSE which will stretch, challenge and add detail to student knowledge with:

  • Recent Case Study Articles on aspects of Human and Physical Geography
  • Grade Boosting advice from the examiners with practice and reviewed Q and A’s from exam boards
  • A skills section where analysis and presentation skills can be learnt and reviewed.


Useful Websites : There are many but a short selection is: