CIE IGCSE Geography – Revision Notes & Study Resources

CIE GCSE Geography mapping file. Download our comprehensive teaching resources and revision toolkit today. Use the mapping table to align with the CIE examination board. Updated and aligned to the new 2020 specification.

CIE SpecificationGCSE Document ReferenceAdditional Content
Paper 1:Theme 1: Population and settlement
1.1Population dynamicsPopulation Dynamics
Reasons for rapid increase in the world’s population
Overpopulation and underpopulation: causes and consequences
Main causes of a change in population size: How birth and death rates and migration ontribute
Reasons for contrasting rates of natural population change: Impacts of social, economic and other factors (including government policies, HIV) on birth and death rates
Describe and evaluate population policies
Case study of over populated country, under-populated country, high rate of natural population growth, low rate of population growth (decline)
1.2MigrationGlobal Patterns of Urban Change and Urban Growth
Reasons for population migration: internal such as rural urban migration, international migrations (voluntary and involuntary)
Impacts of migration: Positive and negative impacts on the distination and origins of the migrants, and on the migrants themselves.
Case study: International migration
1.3Population structurePopulation Structure, Density, and Settlements
Identify and give reasons for and implications of different types of population structure: Age sex, pyramids of countries at different levels of economic development
Case study: Country with a high dependent population
1.4Population density and distributionPopulation Structure, Density, and Settlements
Factors influencing the density and distribution of population: physical, economic, social and political factors
Case study: densely populated country or area at any scale from local to regional; sparsely populated country or area (at any scale from local to regional)
1.5Settlements (rural and urban) and service provisionPopulation Structure, Density, and Settlements
Patterns of settlement: dispersed, linear, nucleated
Factors which may influence the sites, growth and functions of settlements and services: Influence of physical factors (relief, soil, water supply) and other factors (including accessibility, resources)
Reasons for the heirarchy of settlements and services: High, middle and low order settlements and services, Sphere of influence and threshold population
Case study: settlement and service provision in an area
1.6Urban settlementsGlobal Patterns of Urban Change and Urban Growth
Reasons for the characteristics of, and changes in land use in urban areas
Problems of urban areas, their causes and possible solutions
Case study: An urban area or urban areas
1.7UrbanisationGlobal Patterns of Urban Change and Urban Growth
Identify and suggest reasons for rapid urban growth
Describe impacts of urban growth on both rural and urban areas along with possible solutions
Case study: A rapidly growing urban area in a developming country and migration to it
Theme 2: The natural environment
2.1Earthquakes and volcanoesTectonic Hazards
Describe the main types and features of volcanoes, distribution of earthquakes and volcanoes, causes and effects on people and the environment, volcanoes present hazards and opportunities, what can be done to reduce the impacts of volcanoes and earthquakes
Case study: A Volcano, an earthquake
2.2RiversRiver Landscapes
Main hydrological characteristics and process which operate in rivers and drainage basins, the work of a river in eroding, transporting and depositing, formation of landforms, rivers present hazards and opportunities to people, managing the impacts of river flooding
Case study: opportunities presented by a river or rivers, associated hazards and their management
2.3CoastsCoastal Landscapes
The work of the sea and wind in eroding, transporting and depositing, formations of the landforms associated with these processes; coral reefs and mangrove swamps plys conditions required for their development, coast offers hazard and opportunity for people, managing impacts of coastal erosion
Case study: opportunities presented by an area or areas of coastline, associated hazards and their management
2.4WeatherTropical Storms
How weather data are collected, making calculations using information from weather instruments, use and interpret graphs and diagrams showing weather and climate
2.5Climate and natural vegetationIntroduction to Ecosystems
Characteristics of equatorial and hot desert climatesHot Deserts
Characteristics of tropical rainforests and hot desert ecosystemsTropical Rainforests
Cast study: Area of tropical rainforest, area of hot desert
Theme 3: Economic development
3.1DevelopmentThe Economic World
Use a variety of indicators to assess the level of development of a country; Identify and explain inequalities between and within countries; Classify production into different sectors and give illustrations of each;
Describe and explain how the proportions employed in each sector vary according to the level of development; Describe and explain the process of globalisation, and consider its impact
Case study: A transnational corporation and its global links
3.2 Food productionFood
Describe and explain the main features of an agricultural system: inputs, processes and outputs; Recognise the causes and effects of food shortages and describe possible solutions to this problem
Case study: A farm or agricultural system; a country or region suffering from food shortages
Demonstrate an understanding of an industrial system: inputs, processes and outputs (products and waste); Describe and explain the factors influencing the distribution and location of factories and industrial zones
Case study: an industrial zone or factory
Describe and explain the growth of tourism in relation to the main attractions of the physical and human landscape; Evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of tourism to receiving areas; Demonstrate an understanding that careful management of tourism is required in order for it to be sustainable
Case study: An area where tourism is important
Describe the importance of non-renewable fossil fuels, renewable energy supplies, nuclear power and fuelwood; globally and in different countries at different levels of development; Evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of nuclear power and renewable energy sources
Case study: Energy supply in a country or area
Describe methods of water supply and the proportions of water used for agriculture, domestic and industrial purposes in countries at different levels of economic development, Explain why there are water shortages in some areas and demonstrate that careful management is required to ensure future supplies
Case study: water supply in a country or area
3.7Environmental risks of economic developmentRenewables and Non-renewables
Describe how economic activities may pose threats to the natural environment and people, locally and globally Demonstrate the need for sustainable development and management Understand the importance of resource conservation
Case study: an are where economic development is taking place and causing the environment to be at risk

Congrats, you’re almost there – in just a few weeks you’ll be taking your IGCSE Geography exams and then the world will really be your oyster! As the exams get closer though, what lies ahead may start to overwhelm you a little. But don’t worry all the help you need is right here! We’re here to tell you about your next steps and to reassure you that this is your time to shine! First thing’s first – you need to write a well-structured and thorough revision plan. The sooner you get that out of the way the better you will feel. This is because once you have a good plan then all that’s left to do is follow it carefully. Here is all you have to know in order to do that well and also how we can be of help.

(I)GCSEs are fairly standardised forms of examination. This is largely done in order to give everyone an equal chance at success. However, because there are different exam boards there are also small differences between how you’ll be assessed depending on your exam board. This is very important to bear in mind when planning your revision as there are optimal ways to prepare for different types of exams. The unique thing about OCR exams is that you can select whether you will have a coursework component or not. The sooner you do that the sooner you can focus on either completing that coursework or on preparing for three written exam papers as opposed to only two. You’re advised to choose carefully based on what kind of assessment you prefer (with limited wording but not time limit or under timed conditions).

About the Board

CIE, or the Cambridge Assessment International Education board, is one of the oldest examination boards in the UK. It was first created as a division of the University of Cambridge in the 19th century. Today it remains under the wing of the University of Cambridge as it continues to offer secondary school certifications. The CIE IGCSE Geography course is assessed as a ‘linear’ and not ‘modular’ subject. This means that you’ll be tested on everything you’ve learned at the end of the course and not throughout it. It does not, however, mean that you shouldn’t pay attention throughout the course!

How long will the course take to complete?

The CIE board specifies that the IGCSE Geography course is designed for about 130 guided learning hours. When you are likely covering 10-12 other subjects for your (I)GCSEs this usually means that the course will take two academic years to complete. However, it is possible for it to take more or less time depending on the circumstances.

Is any prior knowledge required?

While there is no requirement as such of prior knowledge, the CIE board does recommend that those who are starting the IGCSE Geography course have studied a geography curriculum at earlier stages of education (Key Stage 3 or equivalent). This course does, however, assume basic mathematical skills.

What will I study?

The CIE board breaks down the subject content of IGCSE Geography into three broad themes: population and settlement; the natural environment; and, economic development.

Within population and settlement, you will study population dynamics, migration, population structure, population density and distribution, settlements (rural and urban) and service provision, urban settlements, and urbanisation. Meanwhile, within the natural environment, you will study earthquakes and volcanoes, rivers, coasts, weather, and climate and natural vegetation. Finally, within economic development, you’ll study development, food production, industry, tourism, energy, water, and environmental risks of economic development.

What is the examination process like?

Much like the subject content, the examination process is also split into three parts. Firstly, all candidates are required to take Paper 1 (Geographical Themes) which will last 1 hour and 45 minutes and be worth 45% of your final grade. Next, all candidates must sit Paper 2 (Geographical Skills) which will last 1 hour and 30 minutes and be worth 27.5% of your final grade. Finally, candidates can choose whether the third component of their assessment (worth 27.5% of the overall grade) is coursework or a written paper. If it is coursework, then the student must write a centre-based assignment of up to 2,000 words. Otherwise, the student must take Paper 4 (Alternative Coursework) which will take 1 hour and 30 minutes and require students to answer two compulsory questions, completing a series of written tasks.

Study Tips

To get the very based grades in your CIE IGCSE Geography exams, you should be studying for two to three hours each day. This is the amount of time which is considered ideal as it strikes the balance between working long enough to delve into topics properly, but not working so long that you risk burnout. To make the best possible use of your two to three hours, set your phone and any distractions like the telly aside for that time. Instead, keep them as a treat for yourself after the end of a hard day’s work. You’ll soon see yourself becoming more efficient!

Another way to stay efficient during revision season is to switch between revision techniques as you go along. Don’t just read or just take notes. Instead, spend some time doing flashcards then switch over to mind maps and then back to reading. That way your brain will stay active throughout and retain the greatest amount of information. As exam day gets closer start reading past papers – these will help you get a sense of what to expect on the big day. They’ll also give you a chance to test yourself under timed conditions which will leave you feeling much more relaxed about the exam itself. Don’t forget you have an ally in all of this – we’re here to help you succeed! To do that we have lots of engaging prep material for you. So let us begin!

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