CfE Higher Geography: Topic and Assessment Summary

Below is a summary of the new Education Scotland, CfE, Geography Higher – something I couldn’t find online so decided to create. Included are the main units/topics that can be covered as part of the course as well as the corresponding assessments. Useful links are also included at the end.

This information is intended to inform both teachers and learners.

CFE: Higher

Units Topics
Physical Environments Atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere
Human    Environments Population, rural land-use change and management, urban land-use change and management
Global Issues Development and health, river basin management, global climate change, trade, aid and geopolitics, energy.Two topics must be studied for the course assessment.
Assessment: Question Paper
Exam Info: 1½ hour question paper (60 marks) marked by the SQA. It will test knowledge, understanding and skills with greater emphasis on knowledge and understanding.

There will be three sections: Physical Environment (20 marks, with a choice of landscape types), Human Environment (20 marks, all questions must be answered) and Global Issues (2 × 10 marks, one question on each chosen topic). A specimen question paper and marking scheme can be found here.

Assessment: Assignment
The assignment is a new component of the course assessment. Learners will have a free choice of topic or issue. Fieldwork is to be encouraged but is not compulsory. It is understood that due to restrictions on taking learners out of the classroom there may be a common core of assignments.

Research will be undertaken in the classroom and at home. This supplementary information will be different for each learner, as will their processing and analysing of the data collected. SQA will provide a brief and set a submission date. Staff are expected to conduct the assignment under a high level of supervision and control. Learners will be permitted to take two sides of A4 paper containing data into the assessment which should be submitted with the assignment. No marks will be given for the processed data but learners must make reference to it otherwise they will not be able to achieve full marks. A structured template is available for the production of evidence.

Write up: learners will be given one hour to write their report. It will be externally marked by SQA out of 20 marks. A greater emphasis will be placed on skills.

Unit Assessments
 Each individual unit also has a Higher unit specification. Each unit specification gives details of the outcomes and assessment standards. There are two outcomes per unit, one based on skills and one based on knowledge and understanding.Physical EnvironmentsHuman EnvironmentsGlobal Issues

Specific higher links (all relevant for the ‘new’ higher)

SQA: Higher Geography (valid from August 2014) –

SQA Geography Past Papers – limited past papers and marking schemes from the new higher. Extensive examples of the old higher which can be used for exam revision.

BBC Bitesize Revision: Higher Geography – useful revision tool for human, physical and global issues. Plenty of videos and multi-media content.

Perth Academy: CFE Higher Geography Student Guide – a great example of how a Scottish school has implemented the new Higher Geography.

Perth Academy: Extensive Higher Exam Checklist – including exam skills, physical, human and global issues units.

General geography subject websites

The Geography Site – an excellent resource with loads of information about physical, human and environmental geography. Great for learning new information or revision.


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