Every boy takes Geography in the Shell year and numbers remain strong once the subject becomes optional from IGCSE level onwards.
Approximately 200 boys in the Removes and Fifths and 90 boys in the Sixth form opt for the subject, making it one of the larger departments in Radley. The vibrant department is comprised of eight teaching staff, providing a mix of experienced dons and recently appointed Oxbridge-educated Geography graduates.
Shell year geographers, taught over three periods per cycle, are exposed to some of the key geographical issues facing today's world. These include global climate change, population growth, energy production and consumption, globalisation, international trade and tectonic hazards. Building synoptic links between human and physical elements of the subject, with strong emphasis on the use of ICT, provides an excellent grounding for the IGCSE in geography. It is also a highly engaging stand-alone year of study.
The dynamic and wide-ranging IGCSE syllabus is taught to the Remove and Fifth year over four periods per cycle. Five core topics are taught; hazardous environments, coastal environments (physical topics), economic activity and energy, urban environments and development / human welfare (human topics). The examination takes place at the end of the Fifth year.
At A-level boys are encouraged to explore both global and local issues in considerable depth, and further develop synoptic links between physical and human environments. Nine periods are taught per cycle. At AS level Population, Cold Environments and Rivers are studied as core elements, with boys also choosing one option from Energy, Food Issues or Health Issues. At A2 level Global Conflicts & Challenges, Weather & Climate and Tectonics are explored. Boys also study for a Geographical Skills papers, based on a three-day 6.1 residential fieldwork trip to Nettlecombe Court, North Devon. Finally an Issue Evaluation paper is sat at A2 level, with a pre-exam pack provided prior to the Easter vacation. The AS and A2 examinations take place at the end of the 6.2 year.
A wide variety of fieldtrips and lectures are organised by the department. In recent years IGCSE level students have visited Iceland and A level students have travelled to Beijing and Shanghai. There have also been trips to the Bournemouth coast, the coal mining valleys of South Wales, regenerated areas of inner city London and Cheddar Gorge. The department runs regular trips to Oxford for Geographical Association lectures and also takes sixth form boys to London's Royal Geographical Society for the famous Monday Night Lectures. Boys are encouraged, wherever possible, to experience the real-world application of their classroom studies.
The use of ICT is central to the teaching of Geography. Boys develop key skills in presentation, data manipulation, graphing, mapping and virtual fieldwork. The department is equipped with a designated ICT suite, digital flat screen presentation televisions, and a new seminar room which incorporates a writeable wall for a dynamic learning experience. The use of mobile technology is being increasingly integrated in the department's teaching.
Geography is a rigorous and well-respected subject at university level, flexible enough to be tailored to specific interests, yet broad enough to foster a wide range of skills needed in many career paths. Geography also acts as strong bridge between the humanities and sciences, thus is an excellent complementary subject.