Geography Department


Geography is an integral part of the curriculum at St Mary's College at all Key Stages. The aim of the Geography Department is to provide stimulating and varied learning experiences that allow pupils to develop a real appreciation of the World around them. Specifically our programmes of study aim:
  • To stimulate students' interest in their surroundings and in the variety of human and physical conditions on the earth's surface;
  • Foster students' sense of wonder at the beauty of the world around them;
  • Help students to develop an informed concern about the validity of the environment and the future of the human habitat and thereby enhance students' sense of responsibility for the care of the earth and its people.
  • To provide pupils with opportunities to develop their practical, analytical, numerical and communication skills by completing fieldwork at all keystages and by interpreting secondary sources;
  • To use ICT and other tools to enhance learning.


  • Mrs Clare Mulligan (Head of Department)
  • Miss Michelle Curran


KS3 Geography All pupils study Geography in Years 8, 9 and 10. Our KS3 Programme provides varied and interesting learning experiences under the following headings:
  • Geographical Skills (mapwork, research, data handling, presentation and communication skills);
  • Geographical Themes (Rocks and Processes of Landscape Development, Weather and Climate, Ecosystems, Population, Settlement, Economic Activities);
  • Places and Locational Knowledge (Ireland – the counties, main towns, rivers, loughs and mountains; the capital cities of England, Scotland and Wales; the member states and capital cities of the European Union; the continents and oceans and major lines of latitude and longitude of the world.;
  • Issues (Environmental Issues; World Development Issues);
  • Contribution to Educational Themes (ICT, Careers, Cultural Heritage, Health Education, Economic Awareness).
ICT is used extensively to enhance learning and the pupils are given many opportunities to research information, create presentations,create podcasts, analyse data and record findings using the school's ICT network. Promoting Careers The geography department promotes careers in their curriculum by taking out all year 9 students to a local industry such as Seagate, Coolkeeragh, Axa, Derry city airport etc All year 10 students will go to the Giant's Causeway in collaboration with the Science department.


At St Mary's College at GCSE level we follow the CCEA specification for geography. At GCSE level ( new specification) the subject is divided into 3 modules:
  • Unit 1 - Understanding our Natural World (40%)
  • Unit 2 - Living in Our World (40%)
  • Unit 3 - Fieldwork(20%)
In Year 11 at St Mary's College, the pupils complete module 2 which consists of 4 themes:
  • Theme A - Population and Migration
  • Theme B - Changing Urban Areas
  • Theme C - Contrasts in World Development
  • Theme D - Managing Our Environment
In Year 12 at St Mary's College, the pupils complete module 1 which consists of 4 themes:
    • Theme A: River Environments
    • Theme B: Coastal Environments
    • Theme C: Our Changing Weather and Climate
    • Theme D The Restless Earth
Also in year 12 the pupils complete an exam paper based on their fieldwork study which will be about the Curly Burn river.

Post 16

At St Mary's College we study the NICCEA new specification for A Level Geography. The subject is divided into Physical and Human Geography modules that are examined  in May/June of each year. Currently, Mrs Mulligan and Miss Curran teaches  geography at  both AS and A2 level. New Specification Geography at AS level is composed of 3 modules: AS1 -- Physical Geography ( 40% of AS) ,  AS2 -- Human Geography ( 40% of AS)  and AS3 -- Fieldwork  Skills and Techniques in Geography ( 20% of AS). At St Mary's College, AS geography pupils study the following topics in detail as part of the physical module (AS1):
  • Rivers,
  • Ecosystems,
  • Weather and Climate a
As part of the human module (AS2) in geography, AS students study:
  • Population,
  • Settlement  and
  • Development
As part of the Fieldwork  Skills and Techniques in Geography module the pupils will answer two questions. The first question will  require the pupils to present, analyse, interpret and evaluate  the primary data they collected whereas the second question will require the pupils to apply their geographical skills to qualitative and quantitative data that the pupils are provided with. Pupils will be examined in this module in the May/June of their AS year. Geography at A2 level is composed of 3 modules: A21 -- Human Geography ( 40%) and Global Issues and A2 2 (40%) -- Physical Geography and A23 (20%) Decision Making. Year 14 pupils will complete all 3  modules  in the June of year 14. There are 3 parts to this module. Section A: Human Geography - you must choose two questions to answer about three human geography topics. We will be studying
  • Population and Development.(Parts 1 and 2)
Section B: Global Issues - in addition we must consider one question that concerns a particular urban issue. We will be looking at Tourism for this (Part 3) Year 14 pupils will complete this module Physical Geography and Decision Making in the June of year 14. There are 3 parts to this part of the course. Section A: Physical Geography - you must choose two questions to answer about three physical geography topics. We will be studying Ecosystems and earthquakes and volcanoes.(Parts 1 and 2) Section B: The pupils will also have to complete a decision making exercise which will take the form of a casestudy.

Examination Performance

We are delighted in the geography department at St Mary’s College with the success of our students at both GCSE and A’ level and we congratulate them all on their hard work and dedication to geography throughout their course. The results for 2022 as you can see from the table below are outstanding – something we are very proud of considering the impact that Covid had on the pupil's attendance and the fact that Geography only had a 20% ommission at both GCSE and GCE level due to the impact of covid on pupil's studies. Exam performance in Geography 2022
 Exam level Number of students entered A* - B A* - C A - E
GCSE 19 9 (47.4%) 17 (89.46%) 19 (100%)
A2 5 4 (80%) 4 (80%) 5 (100%

Extra Curricular

The Geography Department believes that providing students with the opportunities to study and engage with geography outside of the classroom  are vital to enhance their overall learning experience. We therefore in the department organise a number of fieldwork opportunities in the department  to facilitate this for eg weather studies in the school grounds in year 8, kayaking in the River Foyle and visits to the Lough’s Agency in year 9 as well as industrial visits. All year 10 students have the opportunity to go to the Giant's Causeway and GCSE and A'level students have opportunities to complete  river studies and sand dune studies in  Magilligan.   The Geography and History department also organise an educational visit to Europe every year for example pupils have had the opportunity to visit Rome, Sorrento and Capri in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and 2019.  We also went to Krakow 2018. In 2022, the pupils had an amazing opportunity of completing 70km of the Camino walking finishing it in the beautiful city of San Diego. In the department we also offer revision classes at GCSE, AS and A2 level to help exam performance and skills near exam time. The A2 students in conjunction with Queens University visit Belfast and study Belfast as a sustainable city as well as study ethnic diversity there.