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Fieldwork: planning - requirements

Fieldwork occasions

Since fieldwork is an essential aspect of geography which ensures that young people are given the opportunity to consolidate and extend their achievement by relating learning to real experiences of the world, specifications must require that field work is carried out, outside the classroom and school grounds, on at least two occasions – Department for Education (DfE) Geography GCSE subject content (page 8).

Teachers, therefore, must plan for their students to have the opportunity of carrying out fieldwork on at least two occasions. This is a minimum requirement and, if it all possible, teachers should aim to maximise learning opportunities outside of the class room.

An ‘occasion’ can be one registration period at school, so a morning or an afternoon, therefore one whole day of field work would meet the ‘two occasions’ requirement as the students would miss two registration periods providing the contrasting environments requirement has also been met. This should be the minimum amount of time teachers should aim for when planning the fieldwork requirements for the GCSE course.

‘The amount of time required to collect appropriate data for a geographical enquiry’.

There may be opportunities for carrying out some fieldwork in close proximity to the school whilst being outside of the school grounds, eg local urban investigation, coastal location within short walk etc. If students are well prepared then data collection may only take a small amount of time.

This is not likely to be an approach that is suitable to most schools, but it may be appropriate in some instances.


Different approaches to fieldwork undertaken in at least two contrasting environments. Fieldwork overall should include exploration of physical and human processes and the interactions between them and should involve the collection of primary physical and human data (but these requirements need not all be addressed in each piece of fieldwork) – DfE Geography GCSE subject content (page 5–6).

These two contrasting environments are a minimum requirement and will be necessary for students to undertake their physical and human geography enquiries. The locations need not be far apart. Looking at beach processes and then going into the seaside town nearby would satisfy the contrasting environments requirement. Similarly investigating river processes and then carrying out an urban investigation nearby would also be appropriate.

For at least one of the investigations students must examine the interaction between physical and human processes. The effects of management along part of a river; how hard engineering reduces coastal erosion or longshore drift; how a landscape is affected by tourism, are all examples of investigations where the interactions between physical and human processes may be examined.

Planning to reduce travelling between the contrasting locations would maximise time for practical fieldwork.

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