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 Specification GCSE Document Reference Additional Content
Paper 1: Theme 1: Population and settlement
1.1 Population dynamics Population 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)
1.2 Migration Global 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
1.3 Population structure Population 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
1.4 Population density and distribution Population 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)
1.5 Settlements (rural and urban) and service provision Population 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
1.6 Urban settlements Global 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
1.7 Urbanisation Global 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
2.1 Earthquakes and volcanoes Tectonic 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
2.2 Rivers River 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
2.3 Coasts Coastal 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
2.4 Weather Tropical Storms
How weather data are collected, making calculations using information from weather instruments, use and interpret graphs and diagrams showing weather and climate
2.5 Climate and natural vegetation Introduction to Ecosystems
Characteristics of equatorial and hot desert climates Hot Deserts
Characteristics of tropical rainforests and hot desert ecosystems Tropical Rainforests
Cast study: Area of tropical rainforest, area of hot desert
Theme 3: Economic development
3.1 Development The 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 production Food
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
3.3 Industry Industry
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
3.4 Tourism Tourism
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
3.5 Energy Energy
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
3.6 Water Water
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
3.7 Environmental risks of economic development Renewables 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

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!