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Key Concepts in Geography

GEOGRAPHY - Subject Specific Key Concepts



Concept lens’




Having a ‘sense of place’ – simply put, what is the place like? Having the locational knowledge to describe where there are – which continent or ocean? Which country? Which local street? This focuses on how we create a sense of place (patterns, behaviour and communication) the specific key human and physical aspects of a place created by a shared human experience (what are ‘The Potteries’ like?) We also have to consider the sustainability of places.


How natural and man-made places fit together in the jigsaw of the world. We need to look at the significance of location and spatial distribution, and ways people organise and manage the spaces that we live in. Spaces are perceived, structured, organised and managed by people, and can be designed and redesigned to achieve particular purposes. The concept of space considers how the environmental and human characteristics of places are influenced by their location, but also how the effects of location and distance from other places on people are being reduced by improvements in transport and communication technologies.


This is about understanding the pig picture as well as our experiences in day to day life. The concept of scale is about the way that geographical phenomena and problems can be examined at different spatial levels. If we are studying climate – how do we examine climate on a personal, local and global scale? Scale is influential in how we represent what we see or experience. Scale might be personal or local, regional or global. There is also national and international scales.


This considers how we use the natural world and how people have the ability to change it. The environment is the product of geological, atmospheric, hydrological, geomorphic, edaphic (soil), biotic and human processes. The environment supports and enriches human and other life by providing raw materials and food, absorbing and recycling wastes, maintaining a safe habitat and being a source of enjoyment and inspiration. It presents both opportunities for, and constraints on, human settlement and economic development. The constraints can be reduced but not eliminated by technology and human organisation. Culture, population density, economy, technology, values and environmental worldviews influence the different ways in which people perceive, adapt to and use similar environments.


No object of geographical study can be viewed in isolation. We need to look at the impact of people, places or processes. We can also examine diversity in this concept: people around the world have different experiences and ways of life but we also have an impact on each other.  Interconnections explore how people and organisations in places are interconnected with other places in a variety of ways. These interconnections have significant influences on the characteristics of places and on changes in these characteristics. It also considers environmental and human processes, for example, the water cycle, urbanisation or human-induced environmental change, are sets of cause-and-effect interconnections that can operate between and within places. They can sometimes be organised as systems involving networks of interconnections through flows of matter, energy, information and actions.

Physical and human processes

Looking at how events can change the physical and human world.  Physical process – an event or sequence of events that occur naturally due to the power of the planet. Human process - things created/affected by people. These processes would not occur without human involvement.