Gcse Geography Coursework Rivers Introduction

Edexcel Geography GCSE Syllabus A Geography Coursework Guidance



It is a requirement of the GCSE Subject Criteria for Geography that all candidates should undertake geographical investigations supported by fieldwork. This will involve a process of enquiry that demonstrates their understanding and skills within a geographical context. Unlike the written papers, there are no entry tiers for coursework. All candidates will be assessed against the same criteria and will have an equal opportunity to show what they can do.

Candidates are required to use ICT at various stages of their investigation. See the section Incoorporating ICT in coursework below.


Designing and planning the coursework

Candidates are required to submit one item of coursework. It must take the form of an investigation which will involve candidates in the following stages of a geographical enquiry:


1 the planning of the topic for study can be developed from observation, discussion, reading or previous study, and should be approached in terms of aquestion or problem to be investigated, a hypothesis to be tested, or a combination of these

2 the defining of the aims of the enquiry; the more specific the aims, the more likely is the candidate’s attention to be directed to the purpose of the enquiry and specific problems or questions arising from it

3 the planning and decision making about what data is relevant to the study and how this data can best be obtained; the general format and development of the study should also be agreed at this stage

4 the candidate should be able to demonstrate the skills of data refining and presentation by presenting the material in a variety of forms appropriate to the nature of the particular study, eg maps, diagrams and charts, sketches and annotated photographs


interpretation and analysis, where the candidate should consider the significance of the collected data, leading to a formulation of conclusions relating to the original aims of the study.

• Candidates should avoid submitting coursework that is either extremely brief or of great length. It is recommended that approximately 2000 words should be the maximum length.


Incorporating ICT in coursework

There are three important considerations relating to the use of ICT in producing coursework:

• it must be used appropriately

• its use must enhance the investigation

• it should be properly integrated into the finished study (‘built in’, not ‘bolt on’).

Candidates’ use of ICT is assessed in three of the five coursework assessment criteria.

• It is assessed as part of Data collection. Candidates should use ICT in some form as part of the overall data collection process. This could be research supporting secondary data, collecting primary data, or collating the data collected. Appropriate uses of ICT could include:

- researching related geographical theory from the Internet or CD ROM, to help with the analysis and conclusions

- using satellite images (e.g. from ‘Window on the World’ CD ROM)

- downloading location maps from CD ROMs (e.g. Encarta) or websites (eg, geographyfieldwork.com)

- capturing images of the fieldwork on digital camera

- using data loggers to help with collection of, e.g. weather data

- collating group data with the use of spreadsheet or database software.

• It is assessed as part of Data presentation. Appropriate uses of ICT could include:

- printouts of spreadsheets in the form of tables, charts, graphs

- annotated digital camera images

- graphics packages to plot river or beach profiles from data collected in the field

- annotated maps and satellite images.

• It is assessed as part of Planning and organisation. As part of this criterion, candidates will be assessed on the overall contribution that ICT has made to the study, particularly the extent to which they have been successful in using 1CT appropriately, and the extent to which the use has been integrated into the finished study. Candidates should still be encouraged to produce hand-drawn diagrams where this is likely to be the more effective method - for example for annotated sketch maps.

The presentation of the completed investigation

• The completed coursework should consist of text supported by relevant maps, diagrams, tables, photographs and other illustrations appropriate to the nature of the enquiry. Video tapes, audio tapes and other media may be submitted, but candidates should be advised that their use is no substitute for the required text.

• The work should be submitted on A4 paper secured in a simple, lightweight folder. Plastic wallets and ring binders should not be used.

• Centre and candidate names and numbers should be clearly written on the front cover.


The assessment of the coursework

Assessment CriteriaMark
1Introduction and aims6
2Data collection15
3Data presentation15
4Analysis and conclusions15
5Planning and organisation12
Total marks63

1. Conclusions

Describing your results

Describing bar charts

For each bar chart write a few sentences about which are the highest and the lowest bars. Include numbers from the bar chart to make the comparison clearer.

The bar chart below shows mean cross-sectional area at five sampling sites along a stream.

Site 1 has the lowest cross-sectional area (0.5 m2). Site 5 has the highest cross-sectional area (2.3m2). The cross-sectional area at Site 5 is approximately five times larger than the cross-sectional area at Site 1.

Describing line graphs

For each line graph write a few sentences about the trend that you can see. Is it a smooth line or a zig-zag?

The line graph below shows mean wetted perimeter with distance downstream from the source.

Wetted perimeter increases with distance from the source. It is 0.8 m at 0.5 km from the source and 2.4 m at 3.0 km from the source. However wetted perimeter does not rise steadily. Wetted perimeter does not increase much between 1.3 km and 1.8 km of the source, but there is a rapid increase in wetted perimeter between 1.8 km and 2.3 km of the source.

Describing scattergraphs

For each scattergraph write a few sentences about:

  • the direction of the relationship (is it positive, is it negative, or is there no relationship?)
  • the strength of the relationship (is is strong, or is it weak?)
  • if there any anomalous results (points that lie a long way from the best-fit line)?

Explaining your results

Go through each table, chart and graph in turn. Write a few sentences to explain what you have just described. Try to use geographical words as much as you can.

The best explanations will give reasons for the strength of relationships and for any anomalous results.

Example: The scattergraph is a plot of mean cross-sectional area against mean velocity. There is a positive relationship between the two variables. As cross-sectional area increases, velocity also increases. The best-fit line shows that it is a fairly strong relationship. The points are close to best-fit line.

Why? An increase in cross-sectional area means that the river is becoming wider and deeper. A smaller proportion of the water in the river is in contact with the bed and banks. This means that less energy is lost to friction, so the water has more kinetic energy and can move faster.

It is not a perfect relationship because different shaped channels have different wetted perimeters. A square-shaped channel loses less energy to friction than a wide and shallow channel.

Go back to your aims, key questions or hypotheses

In this section you bring the threads together and answer your hypotheses.

Link your results together. For example, try to link results for width, depth and wetted perimeter with results for gradient.

If you have used secondary data, try to link this to the primary data that you collected.

Make sure you mention the evidence from your results that backs up each conclusion.

Finish off with something along the lines of...

"These results help to prove / disprove my initial hypothesis, which stated that... This is because..."


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