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Introduction Geography Frameworks

This page provides a brief insight into IBDP Geography and where it sits within Group 3. It explains the aims of Group 3 subjects and Geography specifically and in doing so explains the important difference between IBDP Geography and other Post 16 Geography routes. The page develops a Geography framework with concepts and skills central to the teaching of the curriculum content. The main content of this page is adapted from the IB Geography curriculum review and so sets out the main aim and framework in the planning of this curriculum.

Understanding the IBDP Geography Approach

Geography within Group 3

Geography sits within Group 3 individuals and societies. The aims of all subjects in individuals and societies are as follows:

1. Encourage the systematic and critical study of:

  • human experience and behaviour
  • physical, economic and social environments
  • the history and development of social and cultural institutions

2. Develop in the student the capacity:

  • to identify theories, concepts and arguments about the nature and activities of the individual and society
  • to analyze critically and to evaluate these theories, concepts and arguments

3. Enable the student to:

  • collect, describe and analyse data used in studies of society
  • to test hypotheses
  • interpret complex data and source material

4. Promote the appreciation of the way in which learning is relevant to both the culture in which the student lives, and the culture of other societies

5. Develop an awareness in the student that human attitudes and opinions are widely diverse and that a study of society requires an appreciation of such diversity

6. Enable the student to recognize that the content and methodologies of the subjects in group three are contestable and that their study requires the toleration of uncertainty

Beyond this Geography aims to:

7. Develop an understanding of the dynamic interrelationships between people, places, spaces and the environment.


  • Develop a critical understanding of contemporary environmental security, economic and equality issue
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of how these geographical outcomes have been shaped by powerful human and    physical factors.
  • Be able to synthesize their diverse geographical knowledge in order to form a personal and global viewpoints about how these issues could be resolved

9. The need for planning and sustainable development via the management of resources at a variety of different scales

The Geography Review of 2016 described Geography as:

‘a dynamic subject that is firmly grounded in the real world and focuses on the interactions between individuals, societies and the physical environment in both time and space. It seeks to identify trends and patterns in these interactions and examines the processes behind them. It also investigates the way that people adapt and respond to change and evaluates management strategies associated with such change. Geography describes and helps to explain the similarities and differences between spaces and places. These may be defined on a variety of scales and from a range of perspectives’.

The Review proposed that Geography should follow a conceptual and contextual approach in its teaching beyond 2017.

This approach is represented in the diagram below adapted from the IB review document:

Source: Adapted IBDP Geography

The following information on concepts is adapted form the IB curriculum review. The opportunity to have concepts in the foreground of the curriculum topics will allow for more transparent assessments where candidates are required to discuss or evaluate in a way that shows conceptual insight.

Concepts in IB Geography

Scale refers to both the spatial element and timescale. Places can be taught at variety of scales from local territories or locations to the national or state level. Processes can be taught at variety of scales form the local to global as well as over varying timescales.

Spatial Interactions refers to the interface between place and processes. It looks at how places are connected at variety of spatial scales and timeframes. It addresses how complex patterns of power and agency form and evolve over time.

Places can be compared according to their cultural or physical diversity, or disparities in wealth or resource endowment. The characteristics of a place may be real or perceived and spatial interactions between places can be considered.

Processes are human or physical mechanisms of change, such as migration or weathering. They operate on varying timescales. Linear or circular systems are an outcome of the way processes operate.

Power is the ability to influence and affect change or equilibrium. Power is vested in citizens, governments, institutions and other players, and in the natural world in processes. Equity and security, both environmental and economic can be gained or lost as a result of the interaction of powerful forces.

Possibilities are the alternative events, futures and outcomes that geographers can model, project or predict with varying degrees of certainty. Key 21st century questions include the degree to which human and environmental systems are sustainable and resilient, can adapt or change.

In short Geography should be taught through these concepts. Clear thought should be given to how our student’s understanding of the concepts of place, process, power and possibility become wrapped in scale an spatial interaction.

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