The study of geography at Clifton College provides an excellent base for general education, while also providing the full academic grounding needed to pursue the subject into Higher Education.

As a subject that has elements of both the sciences and the arts, geography compliments almost any subject combination that could be taken at GCSE or A Level standard. It widens, rather than narrows, career opportunities because of the research, analysis, interpretation and communication skills which are integral to the subject.


At Clifton College, we aim to encourage pupils to extend their learning of geography through class-based and independent exploration, problem-solving and research of geographical topics and issues. The department adopts a wide variety of teaching and learning strategies to ensure all pupils find the content relevant and meaningful, drawing on the latest textbooks, ICT resources and fieldwork equipment.

The Geography Department is centrally located in a suite of classrooms adjacent to the School’s ICT centre, and includes its own ICT room. The department also benefits from a new geography resources room which houses a collection of books and magazines in addition to those held by the library, as well as offering a quiet space for pupils to work or use for seminar-style discussion.

The department has a high number of pupils opting to take the subject at both GCSE and A Level, resulting in multiple sets.

Why Study at Clifton?

We put a strong emphasis on fieldwork. This includes a trip to the Somerset Levels in Year 9 to look at the impact of flooding and the management of rivers to prevent widespread flooding in the future. GCSE trips visit the River Holford in the Quantock Hills to investigate changes downstream and we visit the Bristol Harbourside. A Level fieldwork has also been completed in Bristol, with a focus on regeneration in the City Centre and different ways of collecting data. We also use Nettlecombe Court Field Studies Centre to look at infiltration rates and carbon sequestration in woodland. Pupils are expected to complete their own investigation for the A Level, with pupils this year looking at a wide variety of topics, from whether Bristol can be classed as a 24-hour city to how tourism impacts a sense of place.

We also offer a number of overseas field trips and in the past have travelled to places such as K2 in the Himalayas and Morocco. More recently we have offered Year 11 pupils the opportunity to visit Iceland, with a five-day visit to the major sites, such as the Eyjafjallajökull Erupts exhibition, geysers and several glaciers, all aimed at enhancing the pupils’ understanding of plate tectonics, cold environments and tourism. The Geography Department, in conjunction with the Biology Department and Operation Wallacea, also ran a trip to Mexico in 2014. They travelled to Madagascar in 2016 and there is a planned trip to Costa Rica in 2018. On these trips pupils get to spend a week in the jungle and a week scuba diving on the coral reefs, where they carry out species diversity research for the organisation, which contributes to our understanding and protection of these environments.

The department maintains strong outside links with the Bristol branch of the Geographical Association to enhance the pupils’ understanding and encourage their intellectual curiosity. Sixth Form pupils attend a variety of excellent lectures by leading academic geographers at the University of Bristol. The department also enters teams of younger pupils into the World Wise Quiz, run by the Geographical Association.