Changes for 2021

Following Ofqual’s announcement about changes to assessment in summer 2021, here are the changes you need to know for A-level Geography.

  1. Fieldwork is not required.
  2. There is more flexibility in how students collect primary data.

Please note: these changes only apply to assessments being completed this academic year.

Fieldwork not required

Students do not need to complete four days of fieldwork.

This means you do not need to submit a centre declaration form to say that students have been given the opportunity to undertake fieldwork.

Whilst it is not required, we still encourage you to plan and deliver as much fieldwork as possible.

Completing the Independent Investigation (NEA)

Students are still required to complete the Independent Investigation (NEA) and the assessment criteria will remain the same.

They must also still collect primary data for the Independent Investigation (NEA). However, there is flexibility in how this can be achieved safely.

Flexibility in collecting primary data

  • Students can use technology to collect primary data virtually. This means if students are unable to collect primary data in the traditional way (in the field) they can still access the full range of marks. See the examples below of sourcing data virtually.
  • Students must still use a mix of primary and secondary data. However, they can make greater use of secondary sources for 2021 assessment.
  • Students are still able to use unmanipulated (raw) data such as census, USGS or meteorological data as a secondary data source.

Definitions of primary and secondary data

Primary data is data collected directly by the student. It is collected solely for the purpose of the investigation, and is original and unique.

Secondary data is data collected by someone other than the student doing the investigation. It was collected in the past by someone else (including students) but made available for others to use. It was generally collected for another purpose.

Examples of sourcing data virtually

Instead of collecting data in person, students can use online methods to collect data.

  • Online interviews can be done by mobile phone, through a laptop video call, or by text chat.
  • Webcams can be used to collect primary data. For example, pedestrian counts (at different times), footfall counts, environmental quality surveys, traffic counts, changing weather patterns, local place studies, or field sketches.
  • Google forms can be used to collect basic demographic information and ask open questions.
  • Microsoft Forms (part of Office365) can be used to set up online questionnaires, opinion polls, and quizzes.
  • OnlineSurveys.ac.uk can be used to set up online questionnaires targeted towards academic research.
  • SurveyMonkey is a quick and easy (and free for basic use) online survey tool.
  • LimeSurvey is an open-source option for surveys. It is a free online statistical survey web app.
  • Survey123 can be used to collect primary data on tablets or smart phones.
  • GIS tools such as ArcGIS are powerful ways of doing virtual fieldtrips. They can also be used to collect and map secondary data, such as physical data, land use, demographic and economic data.
  • Students can use street view in Google Maps to measure gentrification with a QDI, or record land use along an urban transect.

Maintaining independence

It’s important that students maintain independence (as outlined in section 3.3.2.1 of the specification).

Teachers are still not permitted to provide students with data sets, lists of titles or provide feedback on draft work.

If students are collecting data by virtual means, the data must be sourced by the students and not provided by the teacher.

No other changes

There are no other planned changes to our A-level Geography specification or assessments.

Component 7037/1 (Paper 1: Physical Geography) and 7037/2 (Paper 2: Human Geography) will be assessed as normal.

Students will be required to complete the NEA for 7037/C: Independent Investigation and corresponding Candidate Record Form (CRF).

Help and support

Please contact your NEA adviser for further support on conducting the NEA.

If you don’t know who your NEA adviser is, your exams officer will have these details, or you can contact us.

Joint support from exams boards

Read more about our consolidated approach to change.