Category: Sixth Form

Anuk Krakatoa Tsunami, Indonesia

Link to A Level Geography Syllabus – Hazards – Tsunami’s caused by explosive eruptions (OCR).

When: Saturday 22nd December 2018, 9:30PM

Where: Off the coast of Indonesia causing an impact on the Pandeglang region of Indonesia.

Location of the Volcano
Source- Guadian, 22nd December 2018


  • Volcano ‘Anak Krakatau’ erupted which is located on a plate boundary where the Indo-Australian Plate subducts under the Eurasian plate.
  • The eruption triggered an undersea landslide when the southwestern side of the volcano collapsed triggering a tsunami wave.
  • This occurred as the volcano is above a steep submarine slope created by the 1883 eruption.
  • The height of the wave was exacerbated by an abnormally high tide because of the full moon.
  • This has been a site of frequent eruptions since 1827.
Image Source:


  • Wave 20ft high that came 15-20 metres inland.
  • Early warning system did not activate meaning that people were unprepared; this is as they were designed to protect from earthquake triggered tsunami. As this occurred at night people could not see the ash plume and steam explosions and therefore people were taken by surprise.
  • 222 People confirmed dead.
  • 843 people injured.
  • Roads blocked by debris, disruption to water supplies and houses destroyed.

Other Information

This is an area that is extremely tectonically active; there have been other earthquakes and tsunami’s this year. This also comes 14 years after teh Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 in which a 9.3 magnitude earthquake killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean. The volcano Anuk Krakatau has been growing since it breached the surface in 1928. There have been several eruptions that have created overlapping cones, the most recent prior to December was in May 2018.

Notes from ‘Cities are Good for You’ by Leo Hollis


This book is one that I read about sixth months ago. I found it interesting and engaging. It provides lots of interesting information, and has recently been released in paperback. Before the summer holidays we purchased copies for all our A2 geographers to read.

Some of my notes are listed below:

  • It is estimated that by 2050 75% of the world’s population will live in cities.
  • The genius of the city is not it’s physical fabric but the complexity caused by interactions. We are constantly making connections, moving from place to place, these connections are important, they formulate the network of the city.
  • Dubai is a nation run by a constitutional monarchy, however most of the key government roles are in the hands of the family members. The city was built by thousands of workers shipped in from the sub-continent who have few rights and no chance to share in the pleasures of the state or citizenship. In Dubai the desires of the state, in person of the Emir, supersede the individual citizen.
  • Bangalore International Airport is India’s fourth largest airport. However the terminal opened well before the road that connected the airport to the city, causing three hour plus transit times. This is an example of the fabric of the city failing to keep up with the demand of the burgeoning creative economy it has spawned.
  • The world population is becoming more fluid; a survey of 8,500 people in fourteen major cities showed that 75% of residents had chosen their city.
  • An experiment by Robert Levine of California State University in Fresco timed the average walking speeds in thirty-one cities and found nine out of the top ten were wealthy cities – and economic factors such as earning power, cost of living and time accuracy were key factors. When time is money, we tend to pick up the pace.
  • Informal settlements have significant value. Dharavi contains 5,000 industrial units producing garments, pottery, leather and steel goods as well as a further 15,000 single-room factories. It produces almost $500 million in revenue every year.
  • Researchers are using ‘smart’ cities to save time and money. For example in Beijing researchers studied congestion on 106,579 roads within the city, over 5,500 kilometres, and created a smart grid forming a digital map of the city. This was also integrated with weather and public-transit information. As a result, the new smart grid improved 60-70 per cent of all taxi trips, and made them significantly faster.
  • Congestion is a significant sources of pollution within the city. In 2005 the average American spent over thirty0eight hours stuck in traffic. It is estimated in New York that gridlock adds $1.9 billion to the cost of doing business, a loss of $4.9 billion in unrealised business, and nearly $6 billion in lost time and productivity.
  • Cities are thinking of creative solutions, such as ‘shared spaces’. In 2012 exhibition road was re-opened as a ‘shared space’, a broad Victorian thoroughfare lined by the national museums of London. There is only a shallow brick lip between the road and the pavement. 92.9 per cent of the people interviewed considered the ‘shared space’ an improvement. Many felt the design had increased a sense of empowerment, and 80 per cent of shops reported a significant increase in takings.
  • In Park Space, Brooklyn, 45% of all traffic is created by cars circulating the block. In the Chinese city of Chongqing there is a deficit of 190,000 parking spaces, and this is growing by 400 a day.
  • Living in cities can make us fitter and healthier; a study compared the fitness of young men in inner Atlanta versus men living in the city suburbs. Compelled to walk more inner city dwellers were 10lbs lighter than their suburban neighbours.
  • City dwellers emit different amounts depending on where they live. The average New Yorker emits 6.5 metric tonnes of carbon, versus 15.5 for people living in Houston. The difference is the population density, in New York, people live on top of each other.

Population Articles

uk population

Map of the UK Distorted by Population

Why does Singapore have such a low birth rate? (article)

Why is China Relaxing the one child policy? (article – economist)

What do different countries give people for having babies (article – pro-natalist)

Applying to Read Geography at Oxford

On Saturday 22nd February I was luckily enough to attend a ‘Geography Subject Day’ at Jesus College, Oxford. The college had put together a fantastic programme that included a great mix of different information. The tutors explained some of their research as well as talking about the admissions process.

Below are some notes from the session; these are my notes and there may be errors and inaccuracies.

Geography Admission Statistics (for entry in 2014)

  • 322 applications in October 2013, 77 places available. Success rate is 24%.
  • Aim to interview approximately 3 candidates for every place (university policy).

Tools used to Evaluate Application

  • UCAS form (including academic reference)
  • Thinking Skills Assessment – this is used to deselect rather than to select. Used to get rid of approximately bottom 20%. It is not used in a systematic way after selection for interview. Though tutors have noticed a correlation between TSA score and interview performance.  (more details about the TSA can be found at [MUST register by October 15th; taken in school]
  • Interviews for 64% of Geography applicants – used to find out how applicants think, not what they have been taught.

Personal Statements

  • Reason why the subject choice
  • Work Experience
  • Gap year information is useful if relevant to course.
  • Students put more stress into it than is necessary.
  • Extra curriculum activities are interesting but not part of the decision making process; admission is purely on academic basis.
  • All personal statements are put through plagiarism detection software – any plagiarism and candidate is not interviewed.

Academic Reference

  • In addition to usual content should give information on support reds and personal circumstances.
  • UMS scores are useful (but not required); and they are not a fundamental component.
  • Do not write to the college separately; unless there are special circumstances.

Written Work – not required for Geography; however it is in some subjects.


  • Approximately 70% of candidates invited to attend for interview (approximately 64% for Geography).
  • Interview dates are published on-line (different for each course); food and accommodation provided by first choice college.
  • Tutors are looking for:
    • Academic ability and potential (important they have not peaked at school).
    • Subject knowledge and skills – but don’t need to know everything.
    • Commitment and motivation.
    • Willingness to engage in tutorial systems – need to be able to contribute to tutorials.
    • Ability to handle new material and to relate it to existing knowledge.
  • Specifically Geography Tutors are looking for:
    • independent thinking.
    • Ability to follow an argument.
    • Comprehension.
    • Problem-solving.
    • Spirit of enquiry.

Choosing Colleges
Students should not look at application statistics when applying for colleges; candidates are selected for interview on a university level; then some reallocation of applicants to colleges takes place.
Interviews in Geography

  • 2 interviews with a pair of interviewers, each lasting 20 minutes.
  • Interactive -as in a tutorial situation.
  • Designed to see how candidates respond to new information.
  • Candidates are given an article to read 20 minutes before each interview (this is the case in Jesus collect but not necessarily  the case for every college).
  • The interview will start with questions to settle and ease candidate in; this may be a very open question e.g. ‘tell me about the place you live?’, or refer to personal statement.
  • May use very complicated diagrams to see candidates thinking process.
  • It is perfectly acceptable for candidates to stop and change mind; or to ask for clarification.
  • It is important that candidates show their thought process by thinking out loud.

Typical Offer

  • Standard A’Level ofer is A*AA, the A* can be in any subject taken.
  • IB Standard offer is 40 points.
  • Students would be crazy to do 4 A’Levels; however if they do the university reserves the right to specify which A’Levels the grades are in (e.g. may choose to discount a subject).
  • Doing 4 subjects does not mean that students can drop a grade.

Students can find more information about applying here:

What to Expect when No One’s Expecting – America’s Coming Demographic Disaster


This book was an interesting look at the demographics of the United States, however the author also touched on the wider issues of population dynamics and used other countries as examples. I will recommend this book to my sixth form students, and it would be appropriate for students studying both A’Level and International Baccalaureate Geography. The book is readable while at the same time having a secure factual underpinning.

The book opens with this quote:

Demography is the key factor. If you are not able to maintain yourself biologically, how to you expect to maintain yourself economically, politically, and militarily? It’s impossible. The answer of letting people from other countries come in … that could be an economic solution, but it’s not a solution of your real sickness, that you are not able to maintain your own civilization.

– Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, 2012

  • The author looks at the historical shift in American fertility. In 1800 the fertility rate for white Americans was 7.04. The earliest reliable data for black Americans in the 1850s puts it at 7.90-. By 1890 the fertility rate for whites had fallen to 3.87; while blacks had only fallen to 6.56.
  • In 1960s America the combined total fertility rate was 3.1, in 1980 it was 1.8, and then to 2.12 in 2007, falling to 2.01 in 2009. However this rebound was largely driven by the high fertility of immigrants.
  • The decline in American fertility rate is the result of a ‘complex constellation of factors’. The decline in church attendance, the increase of women in the workforce, the laws mandating car seats, and reform in divorce statutes. None of these changes were designed to drive down population however they have had that affect.
  • In 1936 64% of Americans said that three or more children were ideal, today only 33% of American’s think that. In practice actual fertility is lower than desired fertility.
  • Total fertility varies across the United States, Utah had a TFR of 2008, whereas Vermont had the lowest at 1.67.
  • Due to demographic momentum you don’t see the effects of fertility decrease until the last above-replacement generation dies.
  • As a society ages the level of entrepreneurship and inventiveness decreases. Older citizens necessarily seek less risky employment and investments.
  • Fertility correlates with income. The poorest families, wiht annual incomes under $20,000 have the second highest fertility rate, 2.038. The higherst fertility is found amongh lower-middle-class families, those with incomes between $35,000 and $49,000, they have a TFR of 2.052. As you slide up the scale fertility drops.
  • One of the biggest predictors of fertility is woman’s educational level. If a women does not have a high school diploma the TFR is 2.45; whereas for a women with a Bachelor’s degree it is 1.63.
  • The abortion rate also has an impact on Fertility, for White Americans abortion lowered the fertility rate by 0.08 or 4%; for Black Americans it lowered the fertility rate down by 0.34 or 13%.
  • Research by an Australian researcher, Vegard Skirbekk, stated in the 14th century the wealthy were having as twice as many children as the lower classes, by 1600 elites were bearing only 25% more children. The trend lines crossed in the Western world in 1750, and then reproduction of elites never went below that of the working class.
  • If current fertility rates remain constant in Europe the total population of the continent will go from 738 million in 2010 to 482 million by the end of the century.
  • It is difficult to predict what is going to happen in the future because since the industrial revolution there is no model for a country experiencing a sustained, structural shrinking of its population.
  • In the US the Social Security Administration predicts that by 2034 the ration of workers to retirees will be 2.1 workers for each retiree, today it is 2.9, in 1950 it was 16.5.
  • Abortions and the availability of abortions also plays a role in a countries population; there have been 53 million abortions in the United States since 1973; there have been 37.9 migrants in the same period of time (both legal and illegal).
  • By 2050 China’s population will be falling by 20 million every 5 years, and one out of every four citizens will be over the age of 65. (goes to explain why last week they announced their population policy would be relaxed)
  • The author concludes with ways to increase the fertility rate:
    • Reducing social security taxes for parents with children; remove them for parents with three children under the age of 18.
    • Eliminate the need for college or make college more conducive to couples with families; for example BYU provides family housing.
    • Increase the number of people going to church. (although this is a simplification of the authors argument).



Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

I discovered these graphs from a tweet by Jon Walton:


I will be using (some) of these for teaching AQA AS Geography Unit 2 this September.

When researching the quote “Lies, Damned Lies, and statistics” for this post it seems that the origin is slightly uncertain. It is first used by Mark Twain though he attributes it to Disraeli (19th Century British Prime Minister); however there is no known record of Disraeli saying it.

It is important for students to be critical when analysing data; this is particularly true when using software for data analysis  Just because you can make a graph showing the relationship or make a map showing the relationship it does not mean there is a real relationship. It is important to consider the theory behind the claim.

Click on the graph below to be taken to the website with more graphs on. (I am not sure I will be using the third graph in my teaching though).

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 21.36.49


This tweet from Sue Cowley is on a similar vain:


Sixth Form Visit to Minehead – Ideas Needed

In July I am taking a combined group of IB and A Level geographers to Minehead in North Somerset for a week.

The accommodation is booked (we are staying at the youth hostel); however the rest of the programme is currently blank.

We are traveling early Monday morning from Essex and returning Friday. I am looking for stops on the way as well as ideas for the fieldwork days.

On Monday to Thursday  this week I am doing a planning and preparatory visit so am looking for any suggestions for ideas for Geographical fieldwork in that region.

I have not been to that part of the country recently but my list of places to check out so far are:

  • Looking at the coastal resort of Minehead and sea defences
  • Taunton
  • Impact of Tourism in the National Park

The International Baccalaureate Geographers need to complete a traditional fieldwork report and the A Level Geographers need to be able to answer AQA exam 4a; the rest is to expose the students to geography ‘in the field’.

I would he grateful for any suggestions of ideas for fieldwork in that locality. I will publish the plan on this blog nearer the time.

If you have a chance please give me your ideas either via twitter @gceyre or as a comment on this post!

Thank you,


Geography in the Wild – Dorset Fieldwork

I have just returned from a five day Geography trip to Dorset. I took a group of Lower Sixth geographers to the Townsend Centre in Swanage. We had an action packed week of fieldwork allowing the students to collect a great range of data and experience ‘geography in the wild’.

Monday – Drive from Essex to Dorset. Our afternoon was spent exploring Swanage and an introduction to the Geography of the Jurrassic coast.

Tuesday – Looking at processes on Chesil beach. We visited four different sites along the beach looking at change. This is a fantastic piece of fieldwork as it is really easy for the students to see the visible change in the beach material.

Wednesday – Visiting the town of Boscombe to look at the surf reef and the redevelopment of the sea front. This was put in contrast with the town centre of Boscombe that has not been developed at all.

Thursday – Despite the poor the weather we visited Studland and looked at the human issues surrounding the management of the dunes. We also looked at Sand Dune succession. We also walked to Old Harry.

Friday – We drove to visit Lulworth Cove and visited the Cove and Durdle Door. Following on from this we drove home back to Essex.

Visiting the Dorset coast allowed the students to see case study locations ‘in the flesh’. One student said ‘this is the first time I have got excited about geography’.

I will blog more about the trip over the next few weeks.

This was the first group that I have taken to the Townsend Centre, we had a great time and I can’t wait to go back next year!  More details about the centre can be found on their website