Support and guidance - Unit 4 - Student Guide

6GEO4 Unit 4 Geographical Research
Enquiry questions and synopticity
Skills audit for research
What is a report style essay?
Research and Preparation
Practise and the exam
The Pre-release phase
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1. Overview
• Unit 4 has 6 Options
• You study only one of these.
• Research your option choice by
over approximately 10 weeks
• In the exam you answer one
question; there is no choice.
• You will receive a pre-release
Research Focus (a ‘steer’) a few
weeks before the exam.
• This ‘steer’ will guide your
revision, fact-finding, and
• The biggest hurdle to a high
grade in this module is being able
to write a coherent Report in 1
hour 30 minutes. The more
practice you can get doing these
the better!
Options –you study only
1. Tectonic activity
and Hazards
2. Cold environments:
landscapes and
3. Life on the Margins
4. The World of
Cultural Diversity
5. Pollution and
Human Health at
6. Consuming the
Rural Landscape:
Leisure & Tourism
2. Enquiry Questions and Synoptic element
• Within each Option there
are 4 Enquiry Questions,
and sub questions to
break up the topic into
manageable chunks.
• Each report style essay
will either cut across
several Enquiry Questions,
or will examine several
sub questions.
• The synoptic element of
People-Places –Power is
built into each Enquiry
3. Skills audit for research
Good organisation is the key to success in this module which assesses
independent learning, highly valued by universities and employers.
How would you rate your own abilities in:
Time management?
Meeting deadlines?
Working outside of class?
Taking the initiative?
Problem solving ?
Effective researching from a range of sources?
Being flexible?
Remember the proportion of work in this Module:
4. What is a report style essay?
• A report is a conventional method of presenting
precise information.
• Report style is highly structured and organised.
• It is tightly focused on the subject of investigation
• An effective report will also be compelling and
stimulating to read.
• Report titles will require an analysis and
assessment of a situation.
• In the Unit 4 exam you need to merge traditional
essay writing style with report style to produce a
discursive argument organised into structured
Producing a report style essay in exam conditions
• To help you to produce a report style essay, a 3 stage
process has been identified to help you understand
the final product required in the exam.
• These stages are:
• I - Research and preparation: learning about the
content of the syllabus, and the start of gathering
and selecting materials, and creating an organised
• II - Practicing report writing and the final exam
• III - The pre release phase before the exam, where
information is given to help you focus on specific
aspects of your chosen option.
5. Research and preparation phase
Planning is essential.
• It saves time
• Ensure you have a timeline, listing the weeks up
until the pre-release and final exam.
• Add interim deadlines for research, class work such
as presentations, and practice report essays.
• Plan the information you need to collect and set
aside time to organise the material.
• The key is to achieve a balance between ‘reading
around’ a topic as well as a focussing on specific
• During this phase you should decide:
WHAT you are gathering information on
WHY you need this information and
HOW it will help you write your report.
• Each option has 4 subsections
• Break these down into manageable
chunks with the aid of your teacher,
perhaps by creating a topic map and
then posing small questions to
• Be really sure that you understand
the sub question you’re answering
• This will reduce aimless library and
internet research and getting an
overload of irrelevant and
overlapping information.
As you research material, constantly remind
yourself of your aims, title etc.
Is this
How does this
answer my
Ask yourself
information do
I still need to
Why should I
include this?
Share ideas and research with your friends
Writing a short glossary as you go will be
invaluable for final revision
Sources of information
Undertake some individual background
reading using the suggested bibliography
with the Edexcel suggested scheme of
work for Unit 4.
Use internet search engines to look for
more possibilities.
Avoid the common problems whilst
online of
Distraction- into emails, Facebook….
Information overload – over 6 billion
internet pages are waiting for you!Write out a list of questions you want to
find answers to, and reject information
that doesn’t help answer them. You can
always return for more.
Couldn’t find any information- highly
unlikely in today’s information rich age!
Vary your search commands and key
All information is useful .Material on
the internet has to be carefully
Use a wide range of research
•Resource centres,
•The internet……
•Specialist option sources such
as National Park visitor
centres, GP surgeries, organic
farms, cultural centres….
•Primary research (fieldwork)
may be possible too.
Is the information authentic?
Who is the author? Are there names and contact details? If you have to use
Wikipedia, these are at the bottom of each page, often with live links to the
Check your
sources and
Does the author / s have academic credentials, or is associated with an
Who owns and contributes to the website? Check the URL- think of the bias
Greenpeace or the CIA may have!
Is there a bibliography / list of sources to back up this work?
Are the views, information and opinions balanced or just one person’s biased
Is the information old and possibly out of date? – abandoned websites stay
around a long time!
The Research Wall-beyond Google and Wikipedia
Local Authority
GIS systems- simple free
Journals and Magazine
articles- not just
Geographical ones!
Geographical magazines,
Geofact sheets, Geofiles.
Many of these are in an
electronic form
Internet Search Engines
Use keywords and phrasesadd as much as you can to
narrow the search, and put in
quote marks /+ symbols
between words to refine
search. Most famous =
Internet Gateways- good for
researching issues
e.g. INTUTE for Arts and
Internet e.g. ATHENS- your
centre may buy into shared
resource systems like Athens
system, where subscription
information e.g. New Scientist
,The Economist., daily
newspapers and the
sophisticated GALE data base
is available..
Multimedia - DVDs,
podcasts…. even U-tube
Professional geographical
organisations e.g .RGS, The
Geographical Association may
have useful sources. See also
specialist sites for options e.g.
WHO for health, UNESCO for
Keep a record of where your notes/articles originate from- you may need to return to them during revision! A bibliography may
help here ,split into books, magazines, internet, other….
Skim read all sources to get a feel for content- then reject/ accept accordingly
Ensure any notes relate specifically back to the syllabus to reduce your work load- reading around the subject is desirable, but
you don’t want to get lost in a mire of information!
If material overlaps different Key Questions, note in the margin/as header/footer other areas supported
Beware ‘mind theft’ ie plagiarism even if unintentional! Create a habit of reading information then putting into your own words
rather than straight (and far easier! ‘cut-and-stick’!)
Case studies and examples
• Do not fall into the trap of collecting dozens of
detailed case studies for the sake of it.
• You will not be able to use them all in the final
exam which is only 1 ½ hours!
• Several extended examples and some really in
depth case studies which cross over all the
subsections is the best preparation for the final
• The key is to be flexible in your final choices and
selection in the exam: to reject information as
well as accept it!
Assembling notes
Create an organised file by specification subsection or case study, with
cross referencing to help in the pre-release phase.
Keep a contents page/index.
You should have a physical file and not rely on an electronic version .
Create a TRAIL of information in case you need to return to it later.
Once you have skimmed the title, contents, authenticity and topicality of
the research source, carry on skim reading BEFORE starting to take notes .
Follow the main points and summarise- in your own writing even if takes a
bit longer- at least you know you understand the information then.
Make a record of the book and its relevant page numbers because you will
need to quote this in the exam:
Always keep a record of research sources and check for possible bias in the information:
Of Tectonic
activity and
Why chosen
referencing system:
author, date, title,
basic url address
Possible Bias
Enquiry Q
Overview whole
Natural Hazards and
Disaster, Warn +
Holmes 2008
Unlikely, composite
Enquiry Q 1
USA and other
Case studies
recent individual
good diagrams
Unlikely- Scientific
research organisation
6 - Practising report style essays and the Exam
The Exam Product:
– A report has sections /
numbered sections,
headings, diagrams and
possibly bullet points.
– Structure is a key element
of the report, make it
obvious to the examiner!
– One key aim is
‘readability’ – e.g.
paragraphs need to be
more than one sentence
and linked logically.
– Avoid colloquialisms( e.g.
sad, cool) and
abbreviations (e.g. etc,
– Avoid “I did this or that”
and write in the third
person(e.g. “it can be seen
Use the following language within your report:
i.e. case
between case
studies or
within the
For example, that is…another
example of ….
However…but…albeit….on the other
hand….another aspect to consider…in
addition….in the long term….
Therefore…as a result…as has been
shown….in the future….
To an extent…it could be argued
that….the main
could therefore be said….other groups
may….on the other hand….against this
it could be argued….one view that
could be taken……
The writing process
• There are 3 main factors to consider to give
your report a sound framework, clear style
and an attractive, readable appearance:
I – Structure
II - Content and discussion
III - Language and presentation
• Report essays need logical form and shape i.e. structure
• As a basic structure you should think:
•Look before you leap; use the planning page in the answer booklet to brainstorm the
question and plan out the structure of your answer.
•including a discussion and definition of the question or issue in the title; key concepts,
ideas and themes
•The main body of your report, with case studies , examples and discussion; including
methods of collection and analysis and possibly their limitations; bibliography and/or
footnotes of major sources of data indication of sources of research information used
•analysis and interpretation of the title set in relation to the evidence you have used
•sub evaluations and final conclusion
Plans and introductions
• Are always marked,
even if crossed out
• Messy scribbles
which help YOU are
• Do not over-plan
(take too long
planning) to
detriment of real
• A planning page is
designated in the
examination answer
Pull apart the Question: identify
•Command words e.g. discuss,
analyse, explain…..
•Identify the key words e.g. all,
mainly, increasingly
•Identify the range of case
studies/examples needed
•Identify any restrictions i.e. case
studies or themes that do not fit
the question.
•In your introduction :
Facts, stats and topicality
Facts- make factfiles for each of your case
studies- dates, locations, types- ’ learning
these is essential.
Real life geography: do not repeat
information, or use overly similar
examples. Are the comparisons between
case studies wise, e.g. can you really
compare an infectious disease with a
trauma in terms of effects, or responses to
a volcano and an earthquake ?
Be topical if you can. well researched older
case studies are fine so long as they are
brought up to date- for example what is
happening now in Denali? Antarctica? Kobe?
Bam? Chernobyl? Bhopal? Darfur? AIDs/HIV
If relevant to your question, try to show
the global spectrum of economic
development rather than just the outdated
Sourcing: quote some key references eg
BBC news website, USGS, Greenfacts, New
Scientist, Geography Review, key text or
podcast or DVD… your essay, as a
footnote or at the end as a mini
Bibliography. Avoid vague reference to
Google or Wikipedia .
Use specialist Geographical vocabulary:
salience, vulnerability, techno-centric, intra-plate, Mercalli scale,
aseismic, ……
Moraine, relic landscape, permafrost…….
Life on the
Food security, desertification….
World of
Health +
Ethnoscape, globalisation, Mcdonaldisation…….
Consuming the
rural landscape
wilderness continuum, core-buffer zoning, Biosphere reserve,
resilience, carrying capacity, sustainability…..
trans- boundary, diffuse, sustained, point, sink, precautionary principle,
Tragedy of commons, sustainability….
Evaluating and conclusions
• You get marks for
throughout the
essay, so after each
main section have a
link back to the title
• Conclusion- This section, probably ¾ or
a side of writing, is a summary of all the
major findings made at stages
throughout the report.
• No new evidence or examples should
appear here.
• The conclusion consider the evidence
presented in the main body, draws out
the implications and brings it to one
overall conclusion or an ordered series
of final conclusions.
• There should be obvious reference back
to the title and your SPECIFIC case
• You might want to make reference to
the future if relevant
Style and Quality of Written Expression
Essential to practice hand
written Report Essays before
final exam
Assess the general layout of
your product:
use proper report style with
sections and paragraphs .
Use diagrams and figures
Bullet points are acceptable if
part of an argument or diagram.
Remember to reference any
diagrams in your text as Fig 1, 2
Use A-Level vocabulary and
style, e.g. linking words, for
example ‘in comparison’,
Is your argument easy to follow
by the examiner?
Your sentences must be
grammatically correct, well
punctuated and words must be spelt
accurately, especially geographical
terminology and place names.
Poor writing regularly indicates
muddled ideas
Use short sentences rather than
rambling, long complex ones!
Remember you are writing to
communicate not to perplex or
impress. Avoid jargon.
Focus on the specific title. Every part
of the essay-report should relate to
it, and this will help to keep the
report concise and coherent.
Accuracy is vitally important so
always be precise. Know the material
you are trying to convey
Mark scheme
. Mark scheme
defining and
focusing on the
Researching and
application and
Conclusions and
Quality of written
and sourcing
• So when your examiner is
thinking DRACQ and awarding
up to 70 marks, have you
maximised your chances for
• Would you give your
Definitions/ introduction and
conclusion 10 marks each?
• Have you shown both range and
depth in your Research for 15
• Have you really tried to fit the
data to the title and get the
highest Application/ analysis
• How close to 10 will you be on
Quality of Written
Characteristics of weak and strong exam work
Characteristics of weak work
Unstructured report
Lack of focus on the question in the
Random case studies, poorly related
to question focus
‘Another case study is…”
knowledge, some of it incorrect
No referencing, sourcing or hint at
research methods
Characteristics of strong work
Well organised, sectioned report
Direct reference to question,
Justified case study choice
Links to concepts, theories and
Explanatory, supported by factual
Supporting examples
Links between case studies and
examples drawing out overall
A genuine discussion
A genuine attempt to source,
reference and mention research
7 - The pre release phase before the exam
• Approximately 4 working
weeks before the final
exam you will be issued
with a focus or steer as to
the final exam title.
• Below is an example of
the relationship between
the focus and final exam
Pre Release research Focus, adapted from Examination Title
the Sample Assessment Materials
Explore the types of relationship between the Discuss the relationship between the
causes and effects of different tectonic nature of tectonic hazards and human
hazards, and the range of responses humans responses to them
have to them.
Research a range of tectonic activity types
and response in varying locations.
As soon as you get the pre-release research focus:
Dissect it by relating it back to the specification.
Discuss it with your peers and teacher.
Ensure you know what ‘Explore’ and ‘Research’ actually mean.
Make a list of any key concepts and models likely to help
Which terms in your glossary may help?
Practice linkage words, to make your report structured and logical.
Marshall the parts of your file most related to the focus
Make final summary fact-files of your main case studies/examples: precise details are
required in final exam for top grades
Identify the complexity in the focus- Geography rarely involves black and white
decisions- where’s the element of gray?
Try to practice different introductions and conclusions - especially to time. Your plan
should take 5 mins or so, introduction should be written in 10minutes, main conclusion
in 10 minutes.
If you haven’t tried writing a full report in 90minutes with no notes, now is the time!
Remind yourself of the components of the generic mark scheme: the formula is
D+R+A+Q+C = 70!
Consider revision as selecting building stones to
gradually develop skills and build up enough
knowledge to tackle the exam effectively:
Start Option
• 10 weeks classwork and homework
• Researching into each of the sub
Enquiry Questions .
•Research + notes
•Examples / Case Studies should have information on the synoptic elements of this
module: People/Places/Power
•Write several practice essay/reports; some under timed conditions with/without your
• Create a glossary of key terms and learn them.
The pre release research focus
phaseApproximately 4 working weeks
before actual exam
The Research Focus posted online gives a helpful steer as to the title in the exam.
Explore= the concepts, theories, models
Research= case studies, examples to support/test these.
Practice different command words, such as :
To what extent,
Explain why or how…
Ensure you understand key terms like process, factor, players, geographical,
challenges, responses, causes, impacts…..
Make short summaries of key facts to learn for the exam on cards, A4 summaries,
post its….
Learn your glossary!
The first page is for planning – use it! You will increase your chances of a good grade.
Then get writing, remembering the basic mark scheme
Try to finish the report- even at the risk of making it obvious you ran out of time by
leaving a gap and going to the conclusion! Otherwise you throw away valuable marks
The Exam
One and half hours

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