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The National 5 Geography course encourages candidates to develop a range of geographical skills and techniques. You will gain a detailed understanding of the ways in which people and the environment interact in response to physical and human processes at local, national, international and global scales. This will be achieved through the study of three main topics, Physical Environments, Human Environments and Global Issues as well as an independent study into a topic of the candidate’s choice. 


National 5


1 year/5 periods a week


Assignment of 1 hour


2 hours and 20 mins


£5 for field trip


Mr McNiven

Miss Strachan


Geography helps you to make sense of the world around you. It introduces you to our changing world, its human interactions and physical processes. You will develop the knowledge and skills to enable them to contribute to their local communities and wider society. The study of geography fosters positive life-long attitudes of environmental stewardship, sustainability and global citizenship. Practical activities, including fieldwork, provide opportunities for candidates to interact with their environment 


The National 5 course has variety of interesting topics such as urban issues, world development, weather, glaciation and natural hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes and tropical storms – to name but a few.  


The course emphasises the development and application of skills. You will develop research skills by using information collected from a range of sources about geographical issues as well as use a range of mapping skills, including the use of Ordnance Survey maps. You will develop a range of fieldwork skills by participating in a class field trip as well as collect data independently for an assignment. From your field trips and data collection you will develop numeracy skills by gathering, using and interpreting a range of graphical information. You will gain experience in contributing to group work and working on their own through taking part in investigative and critical thinking activities.  


The course assessment consists of a question paper which will sample questions from across the three sections of the course: Physical Environments, Human Environments and Global Issues.   

Within these three sections you will study: 

Physical environments  
You will develop geographical skills and techniques in the context of physical environments, together with a detailed knowledge and understanding of the processes and interactions at work within physical environments. Key topics include location of coastal and glaciated uplands landscapes, formation of coastal and glaciated uplands landscape features, land use management and sustainability, and weather.  

Human environments 
You will develop geographical skills and techniques in the context of human environments, together with a detailed knowledge and understanding of the interactions at work within human environments. You will compare developed and developing countries drawn from a global context. Key topics include contrasts in development, world population distribution and change, and issues in changing urban and rural landscapes. 


Global issues 

You will develop skills in using numerical information in the context of global issues, together with a detailed knowledge and understanding of significant global geographical issues. Key topics include: 

  • climate change (features of climate change) 

  • natural regions (tundra and equatorial tropical forest climates and their ecosystems)  

  • environmental hazards (the main features of earthquakes, volcanoes and tropical storms) 

  • trade and globalisation (world trade patterns) 

  • tourism (mass tourism and eco-tourism) 

  • health (distribution of a range of world diseases)   

Candidates will study two of the topics outlined above.  

Candidates will complete a final examination composed of questions from each of the units above. It will be marked by the SQA and is worth 80/100 marks available.  


Outdoor learning 
Pupils will have the opportunity to experience outdoor learning by visiting Ballater and the Burn O Vat. Here they will have opportunities to use a variety of fieldwork techniques to collect data which will aid preparation for their marked assignment.  



An assignment will be undertaken during the course. The assignment is a write-up about research you completed into a topic of your choice. It will be marked by SQA and is worth 20/100 marks available. 


Everything you need to know before selecting this course

entry requirements

Taking Geography in S3 would be beneficial however many candidates would still be capable of achieving National 5 without this. Please speak to the Principal Teacher of Social Subjects if this is the case. 

what will you get?

The course is graded  

A: Band 1, Band 2 

B: Band 3, Band 4 

C: Band 5, Band 6 

D: Band 7 


Everything you need to know about future pathways from this course


Most careers will benefit from your experience in Geography however some jobs more closely related to the skills and knowledge developed include Petroleum Engineer, Geoscientist,  Meteorologist, Hydrologist, Urban planner, Armed forces, Pilot, National park ranger, Geologist, Conversation officer, GIS specialist, Farmer, Ecologist, Lecturer, Environmental Health Officer, Cartographer, Tour manager, Minerals Surveyor, Landscaper, Game keeper, Geography teacher, and Environmental Consultant/Manager. 


Skills developed through Geography: 

  • Problem Solving: working independently, resilience, time management, positive work ethic. 

  • Leadership: leading groups, building confidence, organisational skills. You are required to complete coursework which demands you to take responsibility for your own learning and have a proactive, motivated attitude towards your studies. 

  • Teamwork: working successfully in a group, delegation, presenting information. 

  • Communication: working with others, presenting findings, using clear and concise language. 

  • OS map skills: using ordnance survey maps to identify a variety of physical and human features. 

my world of work

This link will take you to an excellent resource on MyWOW which looks at potential career routes when you select a combination of subjects. 


Information from pupils who have studied this course as to how they feel it was.

Josh - S5

Geography is relevant to what is happening in the world today which makes it interesting to learn. It’s a practical subject with opportunities to show learning in a visual way. My favourite topic was population as it explained why people live in certain areas of the world and why some areas are not habitable for humans.  

Route Planning

Ceri - S6

I took geography as I was recommended by a friend to take the subject due to their positive experience in the subject. I was surprised at how well I understood the subject as I thought it would be harder than what it was. I really enjoyed the topic of weather as it explained why Scotland experiences “lovely” weather on a regular basis. Help is always given when required and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested to know how the world works.  

Trip Planning
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