Madras College

Geography - Advanced Higher

 The course develops candidates' understanding of our changing world, its human interactions and physical processes. Practical activities, including fieldwork, provide opportunities for candidates to interact with their environment.

Ms Norrie and Mrs Barbour are teaching Advanced Higher Geography this year.

Pupils can contact them on their GLOW emails:

Ms Norrie
Mrs Barbour

Pupils should check TEAMS regularly for updates.

Course Content

Geographical skills

Candidates develop a wide range of geographical methods and techniques including mapping skills, graphical techniques, and a range of statistical techniques for analysing and interpreting geographical data. Candidates develop a wide range of investigating skills while undertaking independent research such as:

  • scoping or identifying appropriate research topics
  • how to plan and manage a complex programme of research
  • techniques to source, collect and record appropriate and reliable primary and secondary information
  • methods of independent fieldwork
  • techniques to present findings using appropriate conventions
  • how to evaluate research methodology

Geographical issues

Candidates develop critical thinking and the ability to evaluate sources and viewpoints on current complex geographical issues.

Pupils will work on their Folio throughout the year, and embed the relevant skills from the course into their own study and issues essay.

Assessable Skills, Knowledge and Understanding

Candidates study the following:

  • map interpretation  [20 marks in the exam]
  • gathering and processing techniques  [10 marks in the exam]
  • geographical data handling  [20 marks in the exam]

Map interpretation

Candidates demonstrate mapping skills techniques through their ability to use evidence from maps and other supplementary items.

In addition to the OS map, candidates are expected to interpret and use information from supplementary items such as:

  • maps or map-based diagrams
  • photographs
  • sketches
  • graphical information
  • outline drawings
  • drawings based on photographs, data tables and written text about the area

Gathering and processing techniques

Candidates demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of gathering and processing techniques in the context of research and/or fieldwork, and the analysis and/or evaluation of data which might be obtained as a result of using those techniques.

The question paper samples from the following skills and techniques:


  • beach profile analysis
  • micro-climate analysis
  • pebble analysis  
  • slope analysis
  • soil analysis
  • stream analysis
  • vegetation analysis


  • environmental quality survey
  • interview design and implementation
  • pedestrian survey
  • perception studies
  • questionnaire design and implementation
  • rural land use mapping
  • traffic survey
  • urban land use mapping


Geographical data handling

Candidates interpret and analyse a given set of data, including statistical data, to evaluate any techniques used and their effectiveness in order to explain geographical relationships. Questions use the supplementary items supplied with the question paper.

The question paper samples from the following skills and techniques:

  • handling different data types — nominal, ordinal, interval
  • sampling methods — random, regular, stratified
  • graphical presentation of data — bipolar analysis, dispersion diagram, kite diagram, logarithmic graph, polar graph, systems diagrams, scattergraph, triangular graph
  • map or map-based diagram — annotated overlay, choropleth map, cross section, dot map, flow line map, isoline map, proportional symbols, sphere of influence map, transect
  • descriptive statistics:
    — measures of central tendency
    — mean, median, mode
    — measures of dispersion
    — range, interquartile range, standard deviation, standard error of the mean, coefficient of variation
  • inferential statistics: chi squared analysis, linear regression analysis, nearest neighbour analysis, Pearson's product moment correlation coefficient, Spearman's rank correlation coefficient

Assessment Arrangements

  • Project Folio - Fieldwork Study - 60 marks - submitted to SQA for marking
  • Project Folio - Issues Essay: Critical Writing - 40 marks - submitted to SQA for marking
  • SQA Exam - Question Paper - 50 marks - 2 hours 30 minutes

    The question paper will assess the following areas:
    - Ordnance Survey Map Interpretation (1:25000)
    - Gathering and processing techniques
    - Geographical Data Handling

The Importance of the Folio

Geographical Study 60 marks, Issues Essay 40 marks

Submitted to the SQA for marking – early May

You will work on this throughout the year. You can choose an area you enjoy and want to develop further.

Top Folio Tips

  1. Read the Folio Instructions- understand the task in hand
  2. Start early!
  3. Read widely - keep a record (author, title, year, URL etc)
  4. Dedicate time EVERY WEEK to both pieces
  5. Organisation - You will switch between your Issues and Study and course content - have a system
  6. Choose an area that interests you!

Useful Resources