3.2 Human geography

3.2.1 Global systems and global governance

This section of our specification focuses on globalisation – the economic, political and social changes associated with technological and other driving forces which have been a key feature of global economy and society in recent decades.

Increased interdependence and transformed relationships between peoples, states and environments have prompted more or less successful attempts at a global level to manage and govern some aspects of human affairs. Students engage with important dimensions of these phenomena with particular emphasis on international trade and access to markets and the governance of the global commons. Students contemplate many complex dimensions of contemporary world affairs and their own place in and perspective on them. Study of this section offers the opportunity to exercise and develop both qualitative and quantitative approaches to gathering, processing and interpreting relevant information and data including, those associated with and arising from fieldwork.

3.2.1.1 Globalisation

Dimensions of globalisation: flows of capital, labour, products, services and information; global marketing; patterns of production, distribution and consumption.

Factors in globalisation: the development of technologies, systems and relationships, including financial, transport, security, communications, management and information systems and trade agreements.

3.2.1.2 Global systems

Form and nature of economic, political, social and environmental interdependence in the contemporary world.

Issues associated with interdependence including how:

  • unequal flows of people, money, ideas and technology within global systems can sometimes act to promote stability, growth and development but can also cause inequalities, conflicts and injustices for people and places
  • unequal power relations enable some states to drive global systems to their own advantage and to directly influence geopolitical events, while others are only able to respond or resist in a more constrained way.

3.2.1.3 International trade and access to markets

Global features and trends in the volume and pattern of international trade and investment associated with globalisation.

Trading relationships and patterns between large, highly developed economies such as the United States, the European Union, emerging major economies such as China and India and smaller, less developed economies such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, southern Asia and Latin America.

Differential access to markets associated with levels of economic development and trading agreements and its impacts on economic and societal well-being.

The nature and role of transnational corporations (TNCs), including their spatial organisation, production, linkages, trading and marketing patterns, with a detailed reference to a specified TNC and its impacts on those countries in which it operates.

World trade in at least one food commodity or one manufacturing product.

Analysis and assessment of the geographical consequences of global systems to specifically consider how international trade and variable access to markets underly and impacts on students' and other people's lives across the globe.

3.2.1.4 Global governance

The emergence and developing role of norms, laws and institutions in regulating and reproducing global systems.

Issues associated with attempts at global governance, including how:

  • agencies, including the UN in the post-1945 era, can work to promote growth and stability but may also exacerbate inequalities and injustices
  • interactions between the local, regional, national, international and global scales are fundamental to understanding global governance.

3.2.1.5 The 'global commons'

The concept of the ‘global commons’. The rights of all to the benefits of the global commons. Acknowledgement that the rights of all people to sustainable development must also acknowledge the need to protect the global commons.

3.2.1.5.1 Antarctica as a global common

An outline of the contemporary geography, including climate, of Antarctica (including the Southern Ocean as far north as the Antarctic Convergence) to demonstrate its role as a global common and illustrate its vulnerability to global economic pressures and environmental change.

Threats to Antarctica arising from:

  • climate change
  • fishing and whaling
  • the search for mineral resources
  • tourism and scientific research.

Critical appraisal of the developing governance of Antarctica. International government organisations to include United Nations (UN) agencies such as United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Whaling Commission. The Antarctic Treaty (1959), the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991); IWC Whaling Moratorium (1982) – their purpose, scope and systems for inspection and enforcement.

The role of NGOs in monitoring threats and enhancing protection of Antarctica.

Analysis and assessment of the geographical consequences of global governance for citizens and places in Antarctica and elsewhere to specifically consider how global governance underlies and impacts on students’ and other people's lives across the globe.

3.2.1.6 Globalisation critique

The impacts of globalisation to consider the benefits of growth, development, integration, stability against the costs in terms of inequalities, injustice, conflict and environmental impact.

3.2.1.7 Quantitative and qualitative skills

Students must engage with quantitative and qualitative approaches across the theme as a whole.

3.2.2 Changing places

This section of our specification focuses on people's engagement with places, their experience of them and the qualities they ascribe to them, all of which are of fundamental importance in their lives. Students acknowledge this importance and engage with how places are known and experienced, how their character is appreciated, the factors and processes which impact upon places and how they change and develop over time. Through developing this knowledge, students will gain understanding of the way in which their own lives and those of others are affected by continuity and change in the nature of places which are of fundamental importance in their lives.

Study of the content must be embedded in two contrasting places, one to be local. The local place may be a locality, neighbourhood or small community either urban or rural. A contrasting place is likely to be distant – it could be in the same country or a different country but it must show significant contrast in terms of economic development and/or population density and/or cultural background and/or systems of political and economic organisation.

The place studies complement the requirement to embed the study of content in two contrasting places. Study of this section offers particular opportunities to exercise and develop qualitative (and quantitative) investigative techniques and practice-related observation, measurement and various mapping skills, together with data manipulation and statistical skills including those associated with and arising from fieldwork.

3.2.2.1 The nature and importance of places

The concept of place and the importance of place in human life and experience.

Insider and outsider perspectives on place.

Categories of place:

  • near places and far places
  • experienced places and media places.

Factors contributing to the character of places:

  • Endogenous: location, topography, physical geography, land use, built environment and infrastructure, demographic and economic characteristics.
  • Exogenous: relationships with other places.

3.2.2.2 Changing places – relationships, connections, meaning and representation

In relation to the local place within which students live or study and then at least one further contrasting place and encompassing local, regional, national, international and global scales:

  • the ways in which the following factors: relationships and connections, meaning and representation, affect continuity and change in the nature of places and our understanding of place

    and

  • the ways in which students’ own lives and those of others are affected by continuity and change in the nature of places and our understanding of place.

3.2.2.2.1 Relationships and connections

The impact of relationships and connections on people and place with a particular focus on:

either

changing demographic and cultural characteristics

or

economic change and social inequalities.

  • How the demographic, socio-economic and cultural characteristics of places are shaped by shifting flows of people, resources, money and investment, and ideas at all scales from local to global.
  • The characteristics and impacts of external forces operating at different scales from local to global, including either government policies or the decisions of multinational corporations or the impacts of international or global institutions.
  • How past and present connections, within and beyond localities, shape places and embed them in the regional, national, international and global scales.

3.2.2.2.2 Meaning and representation

The importance of the meanings and representations attached to places by people with a particular focus on people's lived experience of place in the past and at present.

  • How humans perceive, engage with and form attachments to places and how they present and represent the world to others, including the way in which everyday place meanings are bound up with different identities, perspectives and experiences.
  • How external agencies, including government, corporate bodies and community or local groups make attempts to influence or create specific place-meanings and thereby shape the actions and behaviours of individuals, groups, businesses and institutions.
  • How places may be represented in a variety of different forms such as advertising copy, tourist agency material, local art exhibitions in diverse media (eg film, photography, art, story, song etc) that often give contrasting images to that presented formally or statistically such as cartography and census data.
  • How both past and present processes of development can be seen to influence the social and economic characteristics of places and so be implicit in present meanings.

3.2.2.3 Quantitative and qualitative skills

Students must engage with a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches across the theme as a whole. Quantitative data, including the use of geospatial data, must be used to investigate and present place characteristics, particular weight must be given to qualitative approaches involved in representing place, and to analysing critically the impacts of different media on place meanings and perceptions. The use of different types of data should allow the development of critical perspectives on the data categories and approaches.

3.2.2.4 Place studies

Local place study exploring the developing character of a place local to the home or study centre.

Contrasting place study exploring the developing character of a contrasting and distant place.

Place studies must apply the knowledge acquired through engagement with prescribed specification content and thereby further enhance understanding of the way students' own lives and those of others are affected by continuity and change in the nature of places. Sources must include qualitative and quantitative data to represent places in the past and present.

Both place studies must focus equally on:

  • people's lived experience of the place in the past and at present

    and either

  • changing demographic and cultural characteristics

    or

  • economic change and social inequalities.

Suitable data sources could include:

  • statistics, such as census data
  • maps
  • geo-located data
  • geospatial data, including geographic information systems (GIS) applications
  • photographs
  • text, from varied media
  • audio-visual media
  • artistic representations
  • oral sources, such as interviews, reminiscences, songs etc.

3.2.3 Contemporary urban environments

This optional section of our specification focuses on urban growth and change which are seemingly ubiquitous processes and present significant environmental and social challenges for human populations. The section examines these processes and challenges and the issues associated with them, in particular the potential for environmental sustainability and social cohesion. Engaging with these themes in a range of urban settings from contrasting areas of the world affords the opportunity for students to appreciate human diversity and develop awareness and insight into profound questions of opportunity, equity and sustainability. Study of this section offers the opportunity to exercise and develop observation skills, measurement and geospatial mapping skills, together with data manipulation and statistical skills, including those associated with and arising from fieldwork.

3.2.3.1 Urbanisation

Urbanisation and its importance in human affairs. Global patterns of urbanisation since 1945. Urbanisation, suburbanisation, counter-urbanisation, urban resurgence. The emergence of megacities and world cities and their role in global and regional economies.

Economic, social, technological, political and demographic processes associated with urbanisation and urban growth.

Urban change: deindustrialisation, decentralisation, rise of service economy.

Urban policy and regeneration in Britain since 1979.

3.2.3.2 Urban forms

Contemporary characteristics of mega/world cities. Urban characteristics in contrasting settings. Physical and human factors in urban forms. Spatial patterns of land use, economic inequality, social segregation and cultural diversity in contrasting urban areas, and the factors that influence them.

New urban landscapes: town centre mixed developments, cultural and heritage quarters, fortress developments, gentrified areas, edge cities. The concept of the post-modern western city.

3.2.3.3 Social and economic issues associated with urbanisation

Issues associated with economic inequality, social segregation and cultural diversity in contrasting urban areas.

Strategies to manage these issues.

3.2.3.4 Urban climate

The impact of urban forms and processes on local climate and weather.

Urban temperatures: the urban heat island effect. Precipitation: frequency and intensity. Fogs and thunderstorms in urban environments. Wind: the effects of urban structures and layout on wind speed, direction and frequency. Air quality: particulate and photo-chemical pollution.

Pollution reduction policies.

3.2.3.5 Urban drainage

Urban precipitation, surfaces and catchment characteristics; impacts on drainage basin storage areas; urban water cycle: water movement through urban catchments as measured by hydrographs.

Issues associated with catchment management in urban areas. The development of sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS).

River restoration and conservation in damaged urban catchments with reference to a specific project. Reasons for and aims of the project; attitudes and contributions of parties involved; project activities and evaluation of project outcomes.

3.2.3.6 Urban waste and its disposal

Urban physical waste generation: sources of waste - industrial and commercial activity, personal consumption. Relation of waste components and waste streams to economic characteristics, lifestyles and attitudes. The environmental impacts of alternative approaches to waste disposal: unregulated, recycling, recovery, incineration, burial, submergence and trade.

Comparison of incineration and landfill approaches to waste disposal in relation to a specified urban area.

3.2.3.7 Other contemporary urban environmental issues

Environmental problems in contrasting urban areas: atmospheric pollution, water pollution and dereliction.

Strategies to manage these environmental problems.

3.2.3.8 Sustainable urban development

Impact of urban areas on local and global environments. Ecological footprint of major urban areas. Dimensions of sustainability: natural, physical, social and economic. Nature and features of sustainable cities. Concept of liveability.

Contemporary opportunities and challenges in developing more sustainable cities.

Strategies for developing more sustainable cities.

3.2.3.9 Case studies

Case studies of two contrasting urban areas to illustrate and analyse key themes set out above, to include:

  • patterns of economic and social well-being
  • the nature and impact of physical environmental conditions

with particular reference to the implications for environmental sustainability, the character of the study areas and the experience and attitudes of their populations.

3.2.4 Population and the environment

This optional section of our specification has been designed to explore the relationships between key aspects of physical geography and population numbers, population health and well-being, levels of economic development and the role and impact of the natural environment. Engaging with these themes at different scales fosters opportunities for students to contemplate the reciprocating relationships between the physical environment and human populations and the relationships between people in their local, national and international communities.

Study of this section offers the opportunity to exercise and develop observation skills, measurement and geospatial mapping skills, together with data manipulation and statistical skills, including those associated with and arising from fieldwork.

3.2.4.1 Introduction

The environmental context for human population characteristics and change. Key elements in the physical environment: climate, soils, resource distributions including water supply. Key population parameters: distribution, density, numbers, change. Key role of development processes. Global patterns of population numbers, densities and change rates.

3.2.4.2 Environment and population

Global and regional patterns of food production and consumption. Agricultural systems and agricultural productivity. Relationship with key physical environmental variables – climate and soils.

Characteristics and distribution of two major climatic types to exemplify relationships between climate and human activities and numbers. Climate change as it affects agriculture.

Characteristics and distribution of two key zonal soils to exemplify relationship between soils and human activities especially agriculture. Soil problems and their management as they relate to agriculture: soil erosion, waterlogging, salinisation, structural deterioration.

Strategies to ensure food security.

3.2.4.3 Environment, health and well-being

Global patterns of health, mortality and morbidity. Economic and social development and the epidemiological transition.

The relationship between environment variables eg climate, topography (drainage) and incidence of disease. Air quality and health. Water quality and health.

The global prevalence, distribution, seasonal incidence of one specified biologically transmitted disease, eg malaria; its links to physical and socio-economic environments including impacts of environmental variables on transmission vectors. Impact on health and well-being. Management and mitigation strategies.

The global prevalence and distribution of one specified non-communicable disease, eg a specific type of cancer, coronary heart disease, asthma; its links to physical and socio-economic environment including impacts of lifestyles. Impact on health and well-being. Management and mitigation strategies.

Role of international agencies and NGOs in promoting health and combating disease at the global scale.

3.2.4.4 Population change

Factors in natural population change: the demographic transition model, key vital rates, age–sex composition; cultural controls. Models of natural population change, and their application in contrasting physical and human settings. Concept of the Demographic Dividend.

International migration: refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants: environmental and socio-economic causes, processes. Demographic, environmental, social, economic, health and political implications of migration.

3.2.4.5 Principles of population ecology and their application to human populations

Population growth dynamics. Concepts of overpopulation, underpopulation and optimum population. Implications of population size and structure for the balance between population and resources; the concepts of ‘carrying capacity’ and ‘ecological footprint’ and their implications.

Population, resources and pollution model: positive and negative feedback. Contrasting perspectives on population growth and its implications; Malthusian, neo-Malthusian and alternatives such as associated with Boserup and Simon.

3.2.4.6 Global population futures

Health impacts of global environmental change: ozone depletion – skin cancer, cataracts; climate change – thermal stress, emergent and changing distribution of vector borne diseases, agricultural productivity and nutritional standards.

Prospects for the global population. Projected distributions. Critical appraisal of future population-environment relationships.

3.2.4.7 Case studies

Case study of a country/society experiencing specific patterns of overall population change – increase or decline – to illustrate and analyse the character, scale, and patterns of change, relevant environmental and socio-economic factors and implications for the country/society.

Case study of a specified local area to illustrate and analyse the relationship between place and health related to its physical environment, socio-economic character and the experience and attitudes of its populations.

3.2.5 Resource security

This optional section of our specification focuses on the large-scale exploitation of unevenly distributed natural resources, which is one of the defining features of the present era. Increasing demand for water, energy and minerals and their critical role in human affairs leads to massive local and regional transfers of water and massive global transfers of energy and minerals.

In this section students contemplate the fundamental relationships between the physical environment and human activities and wants and the relationships between people in their local, national and international communities involving themes of sustainability and conflict. They engage with these themes in relation to energy, water and minerals but may concentrate on one or other in their case studies.

Study of this section offers the opportunity to exercise and develop observation skills, measurement and geospatial mapping skills, together with data manipulation and statistical skills, including those associated with and arising from fieldwork.

3.2.5.1 Resource development

Concept of a resource. Resource classifications to include stock and flow resources. Stock resource evaluation: measured reserves, indicated reserves, inferred resources, possible resources. Natural resource development over time: exploration, exploitation, development. Concept of the resource frontier. Concept of resource peak.

Sustainable resource development. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in relation to resource development projects.

3.2.5.2 Natural resource issues

Global patterns of production, consumption and trade/movements of energy and ore minerals. Global patterns of water availability and demand.

The geopolitics of energy, ore mineral and water resource distributions, trade and management.

3.2.5.3 Water security

Sources of water; components of demand, water stress.

Relationship of water supply (volume and quality) to key aspects of physical geography – climate, geology and drainage.

Strategies to increase water supply to include catchment, diversion, storage and water transfers and desalination.

Environmental impacts of a major water supply scheme incorporating a major dam and/or barrage and associated distribution networks.

Strategies to manage water consumption (including reducing demand).

Sustainability issues associated with water management: virtual water trade, conservation, recycling, ‘greywater’ and groundwater management.

Water conflicts at a variety of scales – local, national, international.

3.2.5.4 Energy security

Sources of energy, both primary and secondary. Components of demand and energy mixes in contrasting settings.

Relationship of energy supply (volume and quality) to key aspects of physical geography – climate, geology and drainage.

Energy supplies in a globalising world: competing national interests and the role of transnational corporations in energy production, processing and distribution.

Environmental impacts of a major energy resource development such as an oil, coal or gas field and associated distribution networks.

Strategies to increase energy supply (oil and gas exploration, nuclear power and development of renewable sources).

Strategies to manage energy consumption (including reducing demand).

Sustainability issues associated with energy production, trade and consumption: acid rain, the enhanced greenhouse effect, nuclear waste and energy conservation.

3.2.5.5 Mineral security

With reference to iron ore or a specified globally traded non-ferrous metal ore eg copper, tin, manganese.

Sources of the specified ore. Distribution of reserves/resources. End uses of the ore. Components of demand for ore. Role of specified ore in global commerce and industry.

Key aspects of physical geography associated with ore occurrence and working: geological conditions and location.

Environmental impacts of a major mineral resource extraction scheme and associated distribution networks.

Sustainability issues associated with ore extraction, trade and processing.

3.2.5.6 Resource futures

Alternative energy, water and mineral ore futures and their relationship with a range of technological, economic, environmental and political developments.

3.2.5.7 Case studies

Case study of either water or energy or mineral ore resource issues in a global or specified regional setting to illustrate and analyse theme(s) set out above, their implications for the setting including the relationship between resource security and human welfare and attempts to manage the resource.

Case study of a specified place to illustrate and analyse how aspects of its physical environment affects the availability and cost of water or energy or mineral ore and the way in which water or energy or mineral ore is used.