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 80 boys in the Sixth form opt for the subject, making it one of the larger departments in Radley. The vibrant department is comprised of seven teaching staff, providing a mix of experienced dons and recently appointed Oxbridge-educated Geography graduates.
Shell year geographers, taught over 3 periods per cycle, are exposed to a wide variety of human and physical geographical concepts and ideas, ranging from hot and cold 'extreme' environments to globalisation and trade to tectonic hazards. This provides an excellent grounding for the IGCSE level in the subject, together with being an engaging year of study.
The dynamic and wide-ranging IGCSE syllabus is taught to the Remove and Fifth year over 4 periods per cycle. Five core topics are taught; river environments (tectonic hazards from 2013-14), 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 explore the synoptic links between physical and human environments. 9 periods are taught per cycle. At AS level Population, Energy, Rivers and Coasts are studied. At A2 level World Cities, Climatic Hazards and Plate Tectonics are covered. Boys also study for two Geographical Skills papers, based on a three-day residential fieldwork trip. The AS and A2 examinations take place at the end of the 6.2 year. Fieldwork remains a core theme in the subject at all levels and boys are encouraged to explore the geographical concepts covered in lessons in real-world situations.
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 computing room, SmartBoard facilities, and digital flat screen presentation televisions. The use of mobile technology is being increasingly explored in the department, particularly the application of iPads in 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.