The Diploma Programme geography course integrates both physical and human geography, and ensures that students acquire elements of both scientific and socio-economic methodologies. Geography takes advantage of its position to examine relevant concepts and ideas from a wide variety of disciplines. This helps students develop an appreciation of, and a respect for, alternative approaches, viewpoints and ideas.
The geography course embodies global and international awareness in several distinct ways. It examines key global issues, such as poverty, sustainability and climate change. It considers examples and detailed case studies at a variety of scales, from local to regional, national and international.
The aims of the geography syllabus at SL and HL are to enable students to:
- develop an understanding of the interrelationships between people, places, spaces and the environment
- develop a concern for human welfare and the quality of the environment, and an understanding of the need for planning and sustainable management
- appreciate the relevance of geography in analysing contemporary issues and challenges, and develop a global perspective of diversity and change.
Distinction between SL and HL
Students at standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) in geography are presented with a syllabus that has a common core and optional themes. HL students also study the higher level extension. The syllabus requires the development of certain skills, attributes and knowledge.
Although the skills and activity of studying geography are common to both SL and HL students, the HL student is required to acquire a further body of knowledge, to demonstrate critical evaluation, and to synthesize the concepts in the higher level extension.
Paper 1 - Core Theme - Patterns and Change [HL and SL Students]
The core theme provides an overview of the geographic foundation for the key global issues of our times. The purpose is to provide a broad factual and conceptual introduction to each topic and to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular those concerning poverty reduction, gender equality, improvements in health and education and environmental sustainability. The progress made towards meeting these goals is also evaluated.
There are four compulsory topics in this core theme:
1. Population in Transition
2. Disparities in Wealth and Development
3. Patterns in Environmental Quality and Sustainability
4. Patterns in Resource Consumption
Paper 2 - Optional Themes
HL students study three options. SL students study two options
The options are:
A. Freshwater - Issues and Conflicts
B. Oceans and their Coastal Margins
C. Extreme Environments
D. Hazards and Disasters - Risk Assessment and Response
E. Leisure, Sport and Tourism
F. The Geography of Food and Health
G. Urban Environment
Paper 3 - HL Extension - Global Interactions
There are seven compulsory topics in the HL extension:
1. Measuring Global Interactions
2. Changing Space - The Shrinking World
3. Economic Interactions and Flows
4. Environmental Change
5. Sociocultural Exchanges
6. Political Outcomes
7. Global Interactions at the Local Level
The fieldwork study involves 20 hours of teaching time for both HL and SL students. The study area chosen can be from the core theme, the optional themes, or the global interactions at the local level topic of the HL extension. It is possible to combine two or more topics or themes.
The fieldwork must be on a local scale and involve the collection of primary information. The chosen topic may be physical or human, or may integrate the two approaches. The internal assessment is completed as one 2500 word report.
Cambridge IGCSE Geography
Through the Cambridge IGCSE Geography syllabus, learners will develop a 'sense of place' by looking at the world around them on a local, regional and global scale. Learners will examine a range of natural and man-made environments, and study some of the processes which affected their development. They will also look at the ways in which people interact with their environment, and the opportunities and challenges an environment can present, thereby gaining a deeper insight into the different communities and cultures that exist around the world.
You can download one or more question papers for a previous session. Teachers registered with Cambridge can access our password-protected Teacher Support site, where a much wider selection of syllabus materials is available to download.
Syllabuses The syllabus year refers to the year in which the examination will be taken.
- 2014 Syllabus (PDF, 409KB)
- 2015 Syllabus (PDF, 357KB)
- 2016 Syllabus (PDF, 226KB)