028 7963 2320 [email protected]


Geography is, quite simply, about the world in which we live. We in the Geography Department of St. Mary’s seeks to build upon young people’s natural curiosity of the world and take great pride in the work we do with our pupils. The Department was awarded Secondary Geography Quality Mark and the Centre of Excellence Award by the British Geographical Association. This prestigious award is not held by any other Geography Department in Northern Ireland.


The Geography Department aims to:

  • ensure that children enjoy Geography in St. Mary’s;
  • fully support the general aims and objectives of the school;
  • encourage achievement in all pupils, regardless of gender or ability;
  • develop pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the world;
  • acquire a wide range of geographical and other skills;
  • appreciate the variety of physical and human conditions on the earth’s surface and recognise the interaction between them;
  • develop pupils’ respectful appreciation of the beliefs, values and attitudes of other people;
  • increase pupils’ confidence in working individually and as part of a group;
  • enable pupils to become proficient in the application and use of ICT, including GIS; and
  • provide opportunities for pupils to develop and display personal capabilities such as: Managing information, Working with Others, Problem-Solving, Being Creative and Self-Management.


At Key Stage 3, all pupils study Geography. The subject is delivered over four, fifty minute lessons per fortnight. Pupils engage in a stimulating, challenging and engaging programme of study which embraces physical, human and environmental geography.

For Geography to be relevant in the Northern Ireland Curriculum, it must help pupils to develop as individuals, as contributors to society and as contributors to the economy and environment. Pupils are provided with opportunities to develop their Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities, as well as opportunities to develop the cross-curricular skills of Communication, Using ICT and Using Mathematics. There is a strong commitment to fieldwork in the belief that pupils learn Geography best through active participation.

This is an important time and opportunity in pupils' lives to help them explore:

  • their sense of identity and belonging;
  • their curiosity about the world around them; and
  • their value system about how they interact with the world and with each other.


  • All pupils will complete five Continuous Monitoring tasks during the year.
  • All pupils complete a summer test in January.  


The emphasis in Year 8 is on pupils acquiring basic geographical skills, learning key geographical facts and understanding simple concepts.

Pupils study the following topics:

  • What is Geography?
  • Where in the World?
  • My Local Area (including a local area fact file)
  • Mapping Skills
  • Latitude and Longitude

  • Africa (including an ICT task on tribes of Africa)
  • Economic Activity
  • Weather (includes a weather enquiry)
  • Settlement (includes a fieldwork enquiry based in Magherafelt)


Pupils study the following topics:

  • Ecosystems
  • Our Frozen Planet
  • Global Inequalities (including an ICT task)
  • Rivers (including making a model of a drainage basin and a fieldwork visit to Crawfordsburn Country Park)


Pupils study the following topics:

  • Geography and Careers
  • Wonders of the World (including an “Apprentice” task on world wonders which is used as a uICT task for CCEA accreditation)
  • Impossible Places
  • Geography of Conflict
  • Risky World

  • Resources and Climate Change
  • The Geography of Sport


At Key Stage 4, the Geography Department offers Geography at GCSE Level. Pupils follow the CCEA specification. Geography is delivered over six lessons per fortnight.

Through the study of GCSE Geography, pupils will be able to understand and apply the following concepts:

  • Sustainable Development;
  • Inter relationships Between People and the Natural Environment;
  • The Need to Manage Physical and Human Resources;
  • Interdependence Between Countries; and
  • International Co-operation to Tackle Global Issues.

The study of GCSE Geography is divided into three units:

  • Unit 1: Understanding Our Natural World
  • Unit 2: Living in Our World
  • Unit 3: Fieldwork Report

Unit 1: Understanding Our Natural World (37.5%)

In this unit, pupils are required to study three themes:

  • Theme A: The Dynamic Landscape (50%)
  • Theme B: Our Changing Weather and Climate (25%)
  • Theme C: The Restless Earth (25%)

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination.  Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 11.

Unit 2: Living in Our World (37.5%)

In this unit, pupils are required to study three themes:

  • Theme A: People and Where They Live (50%)
  • Theme B: Contrasts in World Development (25%)
  • Theme C: Managing Our Resources (25%)

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 12.

Unit 3: Controlled Assessment (25%)

In this unit, pupils are required to complete a geographical investigation that is supported by a fieldwork report. The fieldwork report must be no more than 2000 words. It must be based on primary data collection and investigate two or three hypotheses with a maximum of four.

CCEA provide a list of titles and teachers choose the most suitable title. The planning and primary data collection for Controlled Assessment is started in Year 11 and the report is completed during Year 12. The task set is changed every year. Pupils’ work in this unit is internally assessed and externally moderated.


At Key Stage 5, the Geography Department offers Geography at AS and A2 Level. Students follow the CCEA specification. At AS Level, Geography is delivered over eleven lessons per fortnight. At A2 Level, Geography is delivered over ten lessons per fortnight.

At AS Level, students must successfully complete two modules. A further two modules must be successfully completed at A2 Level.



In this unit the topics studied are:

 UNIT AS 1 Physical Geography with Fieldwork Skills (50% of AS / 25% of A LEVEL)

This module comprises 2 sections.

Section A concerns skills relating to fieldwork. Fieldwork involves a river study and the collection of primary data to produce a summary report and table of data.

Section B is concerned with physical processes and systems and human interactions with them. The following topics are studied as part of this section:

  • Fluvial Environments
  • Ecosystems
  • Atmospheric Processes
  • Weather

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 13.

Unit 2: AS 2 Human Geography with Skills and Techniques (50% of AS / 25% of A2)

In this unit the topics studied are:

Section A is concerned with skills and techniques. Students are required to respond to data of a quantitative and qualitative nature provided from secondary sources.

Section B is concerned with human processes, systems and outcomes and how these change both spatially and temporally. This unit involves the study of population, settlements and development, including the processes associated with these areas of the subject and their consequences for people and the natural environment.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 13.


At A2 level students study two modules.

Unit A2 1- Human Interactions and Global Issues (25% of A2)

This unit comprises two sections.

Section A includes the study of:

  • The Impact of Population Change; and
  • Issues in Ethnic Diversity

Section B gives students an opportunity to investigate Nuclear Debate as a Global Issue. As part of this section, students will conduct fieldwork using primary data collection techniques, develop an understanding and awareness of the nature of sustainability, and understand the need for, and desirability of, sustainable solutions to the consequences of modern living.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 14.

Unit A2 2 - Physical Geography and Decision Making (25% of A2)

This unit comprises two sections.

Section A-Physical Geography includes the study of:

  • Fluvial and Coastal Environments; and
  • The Dynamic Earth.

Section B requires students to prepare for a compulsory decision-making exercise which takes the form of a case study. Students are presented with a variety of resources which may include maps, statistics, reports, diagrams and photographs. They must then identify and analyse appropriate material and are required to use particular skills and techniques and to evaluate the results of analysis. Students are asked to take on a particular role for answering part of the exercise and to examine conflicting values which may be apparent in the case study. They are required to consider alternative choices and to make and justify recommendations.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination.  Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 14.


The Geography Department contributes extensively to the school’s extra-curricular provision. Extra-curricular activities include:

  • Geography Club: pupils can take part in games and quizzes, explore country fact files and make 3D models;
  • Seismology Club (senior students):as part of the BGS UK Schools Seismology Project, students can monitor live earthquake data;
  • Geography Film Club: pupils have the opportunity to watch geographical-related films including Invictus, Lemon Tree and Supervolcano;
  • Fieldwork: e.g. Crawfordsburn Country Park, North Antrim Coast, Magherafelt Land Use Investigation;
  • Local Geography Photograph Competition; and
  • Geographical Association Geography Awareness Week.


There are three classrooms.

  • B2- Mrs C. Bradley
  • B1-Mrs Stevenson
  • D6- Mrs Mc Neill 

All Geography classrooms are equipped with the following:

  • One C2K computer and data projector (mainly for teacher use), with interactive whiteboards. B1 and B2 Share a colour printer while D6 has a black/white printer.
  • One iPad per teacher.
  • Room D6 has a seismometer.
  • a selection of wall maps
  • Departmental DVD's relating to the various topics taught in all year groups.


Class sets of the following O.S. maps are available:

  • Local 1: 50 000 maps
  • Sheet 13- Sperrins
  • Sheet 14- Lough Neagh Lowlands
  • Sheet 15- Belfast

Copies of other maps at this scale covering most of Northern Ireland are also available. 

Larger scale maps (1:10 000) of the local area are also available, as well as the plan of Magherafelt.

Sets of OS maps and photographs which were supplied for GCSE examinations over the last ten years are held by the department and are available for examination practice questions.


The Geography Department has a range of fieldwork equipment. This includes meteorological equipment and soil surveying and testing equipment.


A number of useful books for A-Level Geography have been placed in a special “reference only” section. Students are encouraged to use these books in the Library but may not remove them. Some additional copies of commonly used texts are also available in the Sixth Form Centre.

Pupils of all ages are encouraged to use the computer facilities and internet in the Library to research geographical topics. This is carried out following the guidelines in the school's Acceptable Use of the Internet policy.

The “Geography Review” magazine is purchased for the Library.  AS and A-Level students are encouraged to make full use of current and back issues.


Geography inspires pupils to become global citizens by exploring their own place in the world, their values and responsibilities to other people, to the environment and to the sustainability of the planet. Geographers have many skills which are valued by employers. Geography teaches important life skills, personal learning and thinking skills (PLTS) and functional skills, as well as developing a critical way of thinking about the world. Employers are looking for quality people to invest in and Geography is a subject which explores the importance of the future.


  • Conservation Worker
  • Military Mapping Specialist
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Urban Regeneration Officer
  • Town Planner
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Emergancy Services Manager
  • Environmental Officer
  • Cycle Route Planner
  • Earth Scientist
  • Water Supply Coordinator
  • Human Rights Officer
  • Aid Worker
  • Teacher
  • Marketing
  • Eco-Tour Guide
  • GAP Project Worker
  • Construction / Property Lawyer
  • CAD Technician
  • Heritage Site Manager
  • Landscape Architect
  • Human Resource Officer