Subject Team

Mrs C Irwin (Head of Department)
Mrs D Strange
Mr P Richardson

Department Aims

The department aims to

  • Develop a sense of place and an awareness of the variety of human and physical environments at local, national and global scale.
  • To help students acquire a range of skills, concepts and knowledge through geographical enquiry. These will include skills in practical fieldwork, in data collection, presentation, analysis, interpretation, conclusion and evaluation.
  • Enhance knowledge and skills in the use of Geographical Information Systems, Satellite Images and the Internet
  • Encourage students to become responsible members of the community and to appreciate and respect the environment in which they live.
  • Stimulate enjoyment and interest in the subject

The Travel and Tourism department aims to

  • Create students who are aware of the world around them today
  • Enhance student knowledge of the tourism industry both on a national and international level
  • Develop student knowledge of the business environment and equip students with the necessary skills to enter further education or employment
  • Increase teamwork skills, creativity and the ability to become self-managers and reflective learners


GCSE Geography

Examination Board: CCEA

What is GCSE Geography about?

GCSE Geography is a current, relevant and engaging subject which allows students to develop a greater knowledge and understanding of both physical and human environments. It aims to develop students’ awareness of the relationships between people and the environment, emphasising the importance of sustainable development in today’s ever changing world. GCSE Geography will develop skills in literacy, numeracy, graphicacy and oral presentation. Through fieldwork in Newcastle, Titanic Quarter and Portadown Town Centre students will be given the opportunity to investigate the world around us and develop skills in analysis, interpretation and working with others. Students can also avail of the opportunity to travel abroad to destinations such as Paris or Barcelona.

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

UnitsContentAssessmentWeighting %
Understanding our Natural WorldRivers


Weather and Climate

Restless Earth

1 hr 30 mins Examination40
Living in Our WorldPopulation and Migration

Changing Urban Areas

Contrasts in World Development

Managing Our Environment

1 hr 30 mins Examination40
FieldworkFieldwork Skills and Techniques1 hr examination20

What can this subject lead to?

Geography students are highly employable as Geography develops such a broad range of skills. It is relevant to a wide range of career options including Geographical Information Systems, planning, environmental science, risk management and resource management .

Some specific jobs where Geography is directly used include:

Public Communications Manager

Catastrophe Risk Analyst

Coastal or River Engineer

Geographic Information Analyst


Hydrometry and Telemetry Officer


Social Development Advisor

Resource Manager

Incident Response Manager

Sustainability Analyst

Flood Hazard Researcher

Geographers are also highly regarded in the areas of teaching, social work, law, journalism and human resources.

Studying GCSE Geography will also lead to a better understanding of global issues and the links between places.

Controlled Assessment

A Level


Examination Board: CCEA 

What is Geography about?
A level Geography provides students with the opportunity to explore geographical concepts and processes including interactions between people and their environment, the challenges of sustainability and the importance of attitudes and values.

Geography is relevant, stimulating and interesting. Whether you just want to broaden your knowledge, plan to continue your studies through further education, or use this course to start your career – this course will provide you with the opportunity to further develop transferable skills in communication, teamwork, analysis, investigation, evaluation, decision making, ICT and map reading. 

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

AS ContentAssessmentWeighting
Unit 1 AS1: Physical Geography

Fluvial Environments


Weather and Climate

External Examination


40% of AS

16% of A Level

Unit 2 AS2: Human Geography




External Examination


40% of AS

16% of A Level

Unit 3 AS3: Fieldwork Skills and Techniques in GeographyExternal Examination


20% of AS

8% of A Level

A2 ContentAssessmentWeighting
Unit 1 A2 1: Physical Processes and Human Interactions

Plate Tectonics

Coastal Environments

External Examination


24% of A Level
Unit 2 A2 2: Processes and Issues in Human Geography

Planning for Sustainable Settlements


External Examination


24% of A Level
Unit 3

A2 3:  Decision Making in Geography

External Examination12% of A Level

Are there any particular qualities, skills I should have to study this course and to what kind of careers can it lead?

Geography students are highly employable as Geography develops such a broad range of skills. It is relevant to a wide range of career options including Geographical Information Systems, planning, environmental science, risk management and resource management.

Some specific jobs where Geography is directly used include: Public Communications Manager, Catastrophe Risk Analyst , Coastal or River Engineer, Geographic Information Analyst , Planner, Hydrometry and Telemetry Officer, Surveyor, Social Development Advisor, Resource Manager, Incident Response Manager, Sustainability Analyst, Flood Hazard Researcher. Geographers are also highly regarded in the areas of teaching, social work, law, journalism and human resources.

Entry Requirement: B in GCSE Geography

Fieldwork is an essential component at both AS and A2 level. At AS level students will be required to attend a residential fieldwork activity at Magilligan Field Centre in the Autumn term. Fieldwork at A2 will also be completed.

Year 13 River Study

Year 13 Human Study


A level



TT 1 – Introducing Travel and Tourism

TT4 – Working with Customers in Travel and Tourism


TT5 – Tourism Impacts and Tourism Developments

TT8 – Event Management in Travel and Tourism

Department News / Events

Geography Department

Classwork in the Department, 2019

Visit from a Geographical Ambassador January 2015

A Geographical Ambassador Gillian Phair visited the department on 28th and 29th January.  She delivered updated information on a range of topics studied by Years 11 – 13 such as volcanic activity in Iceland.  Gillian also enthusiastically promoted careers in Geography, encouraging students to consider future university courses through an interactive activity.

Geography Ambassador 1 Geography Ambassador 2

Year 14 End of Year Celebration May 2015

On Thursday 28th May Year 14 students celebrated the end of their A2 Geography examinations with a meal in the StoneBridge Brasserie.

Educational Visits / Trips


Newcastle Coastal Management Fieldwork Friday 24th September 2021

On Friday 24th September Year 12 Geography students set out on fieldwork to Newcastle, Co. Down.  Students collected information on coastal management as well as completing field sketching and a land use survey.  It was  a very enjoyable day and the weather was considerably better than the fieldwork in June!

Travel and Tourism Trip to Liverpool – Year 14, October 2019

A level Event Organisation Coursework

Magilligan – Year 13, October 2019

AS Fieldwork Skills and Techniques

Portadown Town Centre – Year 12, June 2019

Central Business District Coursework

BBC Weather Visit – Year 12, December 2018

GCSE Geographers study Newcastle Coastline

On Tuesday 2nd October over 80 enthusiastic Geographers travelled to Newcastle, County Down.

Having studied the topic of coasts, their aim was to survey five sites along the coast and look for evidence of erosion, transportation, deposition and human management. Students also completed several tasks to prepare them for Unit 3 (Fieldwork Skills and Techniques) including field sketching and a health and safety activity

Well done to all students!

Year 13 Geographers head north to Magilligan

Year 13 Geographers headed north on Monday 15th October. Their destination was Magilligan Field Centre where they spent 3 days developing their fieldwork skills and techniques and applying their geographical knowledge to real-world scenarios.

The fieldtrip began with a settlement survey in Coleraine town centre and was followed with statistical analysis and interpretation in the afternoon. The evening was dedicated to some free time and a group quiz. Tuesday was spent in the Curly Burn river! Students were collecting data which will be used during their AS3 examination. All students worked diligently and were commended on their good nature and attitude towards the task! A movie night took place in the evening. The Umbra sand dune ecosystem at Magilligan strand was the final fieldtrip destination. Students surveyed the changes that occur in the ecosystem as the dunes age and collected data on the increasing amount and diversity of plant species.

 Well done to all of the students! You did PC proud!



Year 11 Geographers visit Titanic Quarter

On Thursday 21st June, Year 11 Geography students boarded the Belfast-bound train. The aim of the day was to investigate the regeneration of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and to practise field sketching. The students enjoyed a very informative talk in the Dock Café (along with a bun or two) and a tram journey around the area! A great day was had by all!

Year 13 Geographers Fieldwork Trip to Magilligan, December 2017

With no ex-hurricane in sight, Year 13 Geographers headed north west to Magilligan Field Centre to complete AS Level fieldwork.  The evening before fieldwork the students attended a skills and techniques lecture in QUB, though not before a quick pit stop at Belfast’s Continental Market!

Their fieldwork task involved collecting primary data from the Curly Burn river, a tributary of the river Roe. Students worked in pairs to measure river width, depth, discharge and load characteristics etc.  Upon completion, they returned to the field centre for a well-deserved lunch, to collate their data and to complete their fieldwork report (a requirement for the AS3 examination).

A big thank you to the students who all worked enthusiastically!

Year 14 Travel and Tourism Trip to Edinburgh, November 2017

Bright and early on Wednesday 22nd November, Year 14 Travel and Tourism students along with Mrs Irwin, Miss Rafferty and Mr Richardson travelled to Edinburgh for a three-day, action-packed trip.

 A key element of A Level Travel and Tourism is the organisation of an event.  Having decided on Edinburgh as the destination the students organised a range of activities within the city.  Some of the highlights included a ghost tour, a visit to Edinburgh Zoo, a supervolcano workshop in Dynamic Earth, a magical ice sculpture attraction, and an interactive visit to Camera Obscura.


Year 11 Fieldwork Trip to Newcastle October 2017

On Tuesday 3rd October 56 eager Year 11 students travelled to Newcastle, Co. Down.  The need for coastal management in Newcastle is the first case study that the students learn about as part of their GCSE course.  Their task was to survey 5 locations in Newcastle and use their knowledge of coastal processes, features and management to collect data. The data collected will be used in class to create a PowerPoint presentation.


Year 14 Geography and Year 13 Travel and Tourism Students visit Giant’s Causeway for some data collection. April, 2017

On Monday 3rd April Geography and Travel and Tourism students set out on a visit to the Giant’s Causeway and in true Geography fieldwork style it was wet and very windy.  The students were treated to a talk from a Visitor Experience guide, went on a very informative and entertaining guided tour and completed questionnaires of the tourists at the Causeway stones.  Yes, you read it right, seventeen tour buses arrived at the Causeway and the place was full of tourists enjoying the Northern Irish weather!  After a leisurely lunch and an evacuation of  the centre a tired group of students returned to Portadown College questionnaires in hand and ready for some data collation.

Year 13 Geographers head north-west!

Year 13 Geography students made their annual trip to Magilligan Field Centre, County Londonderry, from 10th to 12th October.

Day one included a trip to Coleraine’s town centre to complete questionnaires. In the evening the competitive spirit was in full flow with a quiz. Pupils also enjoyed some free time to play table tennis and pool.

Day two comprised of a study of the Curly Burn River.  Pupils worked in groups to collect data from 10 sites along the river’s profile. The river’s width, depth and velocity are just some aspects of the river that were examined.  The data collected will be used in exam responses in June.

Day three was spent on the beach. We had access to one of the best sand dune ecosystems in Ireland, the Umbra Nature Reserve. Pupils learned about the formation of sand dunes and the changes that occur as the sand dunes mature and change.

All in all, a wonderful trip!

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A Scavenger Hunt by the Coast!

Portadown College’s Year 11 Geography students travelled to Newcastle, County Down on 4th October.

In class, students had been studying the processes that are at work on the coast (erosion, transportation and deposition) and the results of such processes (destruction of the coast and the human attempt to manage such destruction).

In Newcastle, pupils were tasked with completing a scavenger hunt. They had to search for and take photographs showing evidence of coastal erosion, transportation, deposition, destruction to the coast and human management.

When back in class, pupils developed their teamwork, creativity and oral presentation skills by creating a PowerPoint presentation.

newcastle-4 newcastle-1 newcastle-2 newcastle-5 newcastle-3

Travel and Tourism Field Trip to UFTM, September 2016

On Thursday 8th September twenty two year 13 pupils, Mrs Irwin and Miss Rafferty headed north-east to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, Co. Down.

The UFTM fieldtrip is one of two trips undertaken by Year 13 Travel and Tourism students to assist them with their portfolio.  The aim of the fieldtrip is to evaluate the customer service offered by a tourism attraction.  The pupils achieve their aim by surveying members of staff and by recording their own experience of the attraction.

The trip began with an interesting and informative talk by two members of the HR Team.  They described how they aim to have excellent customer service for visitors and colleagues alike.

The talk was followed by one of the highlights of the trip- a dramatic performance by “Sally Jenkins”. Sally, the wife of a Harland and Wolff worker, described her life in 1914.

Pupils then surveyed the attraction, completed their questionnaires and enjoyed exploring the museum’s exhibits!

pic-9-2016 pic-2-2016 pic-1-2016 pic-7-2016

Travel and Tourism, Geography and German Munich Trip November 2015

An early start on Saturday 21st November marked the beginning of the Travel and Tourism Event Management trip to Munich.  This year forty eight Travel and Tourism, Geography and German students chose to partake of the packed itinerary.  Students were treated to an 1860 Munich home game at the Allianz Arena, a visit to the BMW Welt and Museum, the Olympic Tower, Neuschwanstein Castle, Garmisch, the Salt Mines in Berchtesgaden, Salzburg and the Christmas Markets, Dachau Concentration Camp and finally Munich city centre.  A busy but very enjoyable four days was had by all and a very tired group of students returned home on Tuesday 24th!

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Year 14 Geography students move outside for lessons. October 2015

As part of the unit of study of sustainable elements, students examine the use of leisure areas, sports facilities, open space and urban parks in creating sustainable settlements.  The geography lesson this Friday was delivered in Bachelors Walk, our own urban park.

Students examined the importance of open spaces for providing areas for children to play, supporting wildlife in urban areas, allowing people to have a daily experience of nature and promoting biodiversity education.

The lesson emphasised to students that Geography is all around us and extremely relevant today!

Batch 2 Batch 1 Batch 4 Students working 2 Students working 1 Group Photo


Year 11 Geography Fieldwork, October 2015

On Tuesday 6th October the Year 11 Geography students completed fieldwork in Newcastle, Co. Down.  Blue skies and glorious autumn sunshine prevailed and students enjoyed completing a scavenger hunt on coastal features, processes and management.  Students will use the information collected to complete a group presentation in class.

In one of the photos below, the students are pointing in the direction that Longshore Drift is moving sand away from Newcastle towards Murlough Bay.

FullSizefrom AlisonLSD pointingIMG_1369IMG_1382
Mrs Irwin's ClassMr Richardson's Class



AS Travel and Tourism students research Customer Service at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Sept 2015

Year 13 Travel and Tourism students visited the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum yesterday to research customer service. The students acted as Mystery Shoppers and had talks from Visitor Services Management and the Marketing Departments.  They watched a re-enactment of a fireman on board the Olympic Ship in the 1910s and visited the forge, basket weaving and printing houses. All in all – a great day out!

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GCSE Geographers visit the Central Business District of Portadown, September 2105

On a beautiful September day Year 12 Geography students set off to Portadown Town Centre to survey the Central Business District.  They collected data on the function of each building within the CBD and classified them into individual business or nationwide chains.  In addition the number of on-street parking spaces were surveyed.  Students returned to school at lunch and collated the data in the afternoon session.
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Year 11, Titanic Quarter, June 2015

On Friday 19th June Year 11 Geography students met at Portadown Train Station for a visit to Titanic Quarter.  After a leisurely train journey we arrived safely at Belfast Central.  A short walk followed to Titanic Quarter where we enjoyed a break and a talk at the Dock Café followed by a boat trip on the River Lagan.  The purpose of the day was to appreciate the redevelopment of the inner city area and to see Belfast in a whole new way!

Year 11 Newcastle October 2014

On Wednesday 1st October Year 11 students visited Newcastle Co.  Down to complete a scavenger hunt on coastal processes, features and coastal management strategies.  This was a great start to the year with beautiful weather – for a change!

Newcastle 1 Newcastle 2


Year 12 Land Use in Portadown September 2014

More great weather accompanied the Year 12 data collection for controlled assessment on Thursday 11Th September.  Year 12 students collected data on land use in Portadown following a transect from St. Marks Church to Lisnisky Road Roundabout.  At various stops on the transect students collected data on building use, pedestrian numbers and house type.

Year 12 Controlled Assessment Photo 1 Year 12 Controlled Assessment Photo 2


Year 13 Magilligan Residential October 2014

Our annual trip to Magilligan Field Centre took place on Monday 6th – Wednesday 8th October.  Here the Year 13 students enjoyed taking part in a range of field work activities including a settlement study, river study and sand dune transect.  This allowed students to collect data and experience a variety of fieldwork skills for use in their AS examinations.  A very tiring but enjoyable time was had by all!

Magilligan 1 Magilligan 2


Department Educational Visit to Barcelona November 2014

Each year the Geography/Travel and Tourism Department completes an educational visit abroad.  Places visited have included Paris and London and this year we returned to Barcelona.  A packed itinerary included visits to Parc Guell, Mare Magnum, Nou Camp, Port Aventura, Mont Juic Fountains, the zoo and the Sagrada Familia to name a few!

Barcelona 1 Barcelona 2


Year 13/14 Geographical Association Lectures QUB September – December 2014

As usual PC attended a selection of the Geographical Association lectures during the autumn term.

Year 13 students attended a lecture on The Peak District National Park on Tuesday 14th October.  The lecture formed part of their case study on the Peak District and students got an opportunity to question Chris Robinson on the sustainable management of park.  The obligatory trip to McDonalds then followed!

Both Year 13 and Year 14 students attended lectures on Tuesday 2nd December.  Year 13 enhanced their skills and techniques in AS Geography and Year 14 were introduced to the concept of Decision Making in A2 Geography.  Both lectures were extremely useful preparation for examinations and in true geography department style we even managed to squeeze in a visit to the Christmas markets in Belfast for our tea!

Year 14 Christmas markets


Year 14 Giant’s Causeway March 2015

A2 1 Global Issues involves primary data collection on tourism.  The data collected is then used in the A2 examination.  On Wed 25th March Year 14 Geography students went to the Giant’s Causeway.  Here they experienced a guided tour of the causeway (Managing a World Heritage Site) and completed a questionnaire survey on tourism at the site.   After a very tiring climb of the Shepherds’ Steps, a well-earned rest was enjoyed in the new visitor centre.

Giant's Causeway Photo 1 Giant's Causeway Photo 2


Year 11 Titanic Quarter June 2015

On Friday 19th June Year 11 Geography students will be enjoying a boat trip on the River Lagan with the Lagan Boat Company.  Students will be studying the re-development of the Titanic Quarter as a planning initiative in a MEDC.  The visit will also include a talk on the social development of the area.


Year 13 Ulster Folk and Transport Museum Cultra September 2015

As part of Year 13 Unit 4 portfolio preparation students visited the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum to research information on how this organisation meets the needs of different types of customers.  They acted as mystery shoppers commenting on the provision for customers at the museum and gained helpful information from talks by the visitor services department.

UFTM Photo 1 UFTM Photo 2


Year 13 Culloden Hotel

The visit to the Culloden Hotel and Spa in March 2015 was facilitated by the Assistant General Manager and Head of Human Resources who provided valuable information on the induction and training procedures of staff at the hotel.  The visit ended with refreshments and a tour of the hotel! Students used the information in their portfolio to evaluate the benefits of these procedures to customer service and the organisation.

Year 13 Giant’s Causeway

Unit 1 in Travel and Tourism looks at the appeal of natural attractions and the services provided for tourists.  Students travelled to the causeway to hear about the difficulties of managing a World Heritage Site.  They enjoyed a very entertaining guided tour and some free time for lunch before heading back home.

Giant's Causeway 1 Giant's Causeway 2

Year 14 Event Management Barcelona November 2014

Current Year 14 students completed a very successful trip to Barcelona in November 2014.  The trip began with an early start on Friday 14th November 2014 and 43 students and 5 members of staff braved the torrential rain and made their way to Dublin airport.  After arriving in Barcelona in pleasant sunshine they enjoyed the main sights that the city has to offer including Mare magnum, Las Ramblas, Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Zoo, Casa Mila and the Nou Camp to name a few.  Of course any visit to the north of Spain is incomplete without a trip to Port Aventura where students enjoyed a range of theme park rides including the dreaded Shambala!  A great time was had by everyone and the travel and tourism students successfully completed their event.  Well done!

T and T Barcelona 1 T and T Barcelona 2



Geography develops a wide range of valuable skills much sought after by employers and offers a wide variety of careers.  Geographers are employed in diverse areas including policy and government, the physical environment, geographical information systems, the built environment, travel tourism and leisure, the business world, society and development and global issues.

Some careers include:

The ones you would expect e.g. teacher, social worker, lawyer, journalist, human resources manager and many more including…

  • Public Communications Manager
  • Catastrophe Risk Analyst
  • Coastal or River Engineer
  • Geographic Information Analyst
  • Planner
  • Hydrometry and Telemetry Officer
  • Surveyor
  • Social Development Advisor
  • Resource Manager
  • Incident Response Manager
  • Sustainability Analyst
  • Flood Hazard Research

Further information on the benefits of studying Geography and the careers it can offer can be found by following the link

Royal Geographical Society Careers


An A level in Travel and Tourism will be relevant for jobs within the Travel Industry itself. For example:

  • Events Organiser
  • Tourism Manager
  • Tourist Information Officer
  • Public Relations Officer
  • Customer Services Manager

However, an A level in Travel and Tourism also provides students with the necessary skills required in a wide range of other areas of employment. For example:

  • Marketing
  • IT Consultancy
  • Web Design
  • Multi Media Programming
  • Human Resources
  • Public Relations
  • Financial Management
  • Sales
  • Management