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IB – Geography

Geog book 2

Geography is a dynamic subject that is firmly grounded in the real world and focuses on the interactions between individuals, societies and the physical environment in both time and space. It seeks to identify trends and patterns in these interactions and examines the processes behind them. It also investigates the way that people adapt and respond to change and evaluates management strategies associated with such change. Geography describes and helps to explain the similarities and differences between spaces and places. These may be defined on a variety of scales and from a range of perspectives.

Within group 3 subjects, geography is distinctive in that it occupies the middle ground between social sciences and natural sciences. 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 between both these groups of subjects 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.

Prior learning

The geography course requires no specific prior learning. No particular background in terms of specific subjects studied for national or international qualifications is expected or required. The skills needed for the geography course are developed within the context of the course itself.

Syllabus outline

Part 1: Core theme—patterns and change (SL/HL)

There are four compulsory topics in this core theme.

  1. Populations in transition
  2. Disparities in wealth and development
  3. Patterns in environmental quality and sustainability
  4. Patterns in resource consumption

Part 2: Optional themes (SL/HL)

There are seven optional themes; each requires 30 teaching hours.

Two optional themes are required at SL.

Three optional themes are required at HL.

  1. Freshwater—issues and conflicts
  2. Oceans and their coastal margins
  3. Extreme environments *
  4. Hazards and disasters—risk assessment and response *
  5. Leisure, sport and tourism
  6. The geography of food and health
  7. Urban environments *

(* options taken at Box Hill School)

Part 3: HL extension—global interactions (HL only)

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

Fieldwork (SL/HL)

Fieldwork, leading to one written report based on a fieldwork question,

information collection and analysis with evaluation.


Paper 1 (1 hour 30 minutes)

Syllabus content: Core theme

Section A: Students answer all short‑answer questions. Some include data. (45 marks)

Section B: Students answer one extended response question. (15 marks)

Section A and section B are common to both SL and HL assessment.

(60 marks)

 Paper 2 (2 hours)

Syllabus content: Three optional themes

Students answer three structured questions based on stimulus material, each selected

from a different theme. For each theme there is a choice of two questions. (20 marks per


Some stimulus material is included in the resources booklet.

This paper is common to both SL and HL assessment.

(60 marks)

 Paper 3 (1 hour)

Syllabus content: Higher level extension

Students answer one of three essay questions.

(25 marks)

Internal assessment (20 hours)

This component is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the

IB at the end of the course.

Syllabus content: Any topic from the syllabus

Written report based on fieldwork. Maximum 2,500 words

(30 marks)


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