6geo3 unit 3 contested planet overview and skills l.
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6GEO3 Unit 3 Contested Planet Overview and Skills . What is this presentation about? . This presentation gives you an overview of Unit 3, Contested Planet It outlines the content and structure of the Unit

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what is this presentation about
What is this presentation about?
  • This presentation gives you an overview of Unit 3, Contested Planet
  • It outlines the content and structure of the Unit
  • The three synoptic themes of the Unit are explored – these are players, actions and futures.
  • Some key advice is given for each of the two parts of the examination (Sections A and B)


  • Content and structure
  • Synoptic themes
  • Section A of the exam
  • Section B of the exam

Click on the information icon to jump to that section.

Click on the home button to return to this contents page

1 content and structure
1. Content and structure
  • Unit 3 forms the Core of A2 Geography
  • As with AS level, the weighting of the units is skewed towards the Core unit.
  • There are no Options in Unit 3, all of the content in the specification should be covered.
the 6 topics of contested planet
The 6 topics of Contested Planet
  • The 6 topics in Contested Planet combine into a linked sequence.
  • This firstly explores resources, then the differences between rich and poor.
  • Finally a range of solutions to global problems and inequalities are examined in ‘Technological Fix’. This last topic is summative and would benefit from being taught last.
examination structure
Examination Structure

2 ½ hour exam

90 marks

Section A: Complete 2 questions from a choice of 5; questions are worth 25 marks (10 mark part ‘a’ and 15 mark part ‘b’)

80 minutes

Section B: 3 Linked sub questions (6a, 6b, 6c) with a combined total of 40 marks, forming an Issues Analysis.

70 minutes

  • The Unit 3 exam has two sections, A and B
  • Section A has an element of choice for candidates ( 2 questions from 5)
  • Section B is compulsory for all candidates
  • Students must manage the balance of time spent on Sections A and B
  • The 5 section A questions are based on 5 or the 6 topics in the specification
  • The sixth topic forms the basis of the Synoptic Pre-Release resource booklet
section b synoptic topic
Section B Synoptic topic
  • The topic for Section B is selected at random
  • The topic chosen cannot repeat within a single year e.g. Water Conflicts in January and June of one year
  • However, a topic could re-appear in the following year
  • The two diagrams illustrate the relationship between Sections A and B for two different exam sittings
teaching and learning
Teaching and Learning
  • Only teaching 3 or 4 of the six Contested Planet topics will restrict student choice in Section A of the exam
  • Only teaching 3 or 4 topics will reduce synoptic opportunities in Section B
  • ‘Technological fix?’ examines a range of contrasting solutions to global and local issues related to energy, water, food supply and environmental issues – many of these approaches are integrated into the Water Conflicts, Energy Security and Bridging the Development Gap topics making Technological Fix? a summative overview of the Unit.
  • There are strong links between Unit 1 at AS Level and Unit 3 at A 2 level which should be drawn out to assist students with the Section B issues analysis (see diagram for example)
2 synoptic themes
2. Synoptic themes
  • Three synoptic themes run through the Unit 3 specification
  • These themes are referred to directly in the specification
  • It is important to consider examples and case studies in the context of these themes
  • The themes will appear as the focus for some questions in both Section A and Section B

CONSERVATIONISTS – an area of biodiversity to be protected from human activity

INDIVIDUALS– an area to be enjoyed and explored; expectation that facilities and amenities will be available

  • Players focuses on the organisations, groups and individuals who have a role to play within an issue
  • Players might be thought of as ‘decision makers’ or ‘stakeholders’
  • Players may hold very different views on an issue, because they have different opinions and values
  • It is important students understand these different positions and perspectives

TOURISM INDUSTRY – an area for making profits, but also requiring conservation to maintain visitor numbers

WATER INDUSTRY – an important source of freshwater to supply homes and industry

LOGGERS – an area of timber resources that could be exploited

  • Actions focuses on both the scale and standpoint of actions
  • There is a hierarchy of actions at different scales
  • There is often debate over which scale of management is best for a particular issue
  • Often an issue is managed at several scales
  • Chosen actions are influenced by players’ standpoints, especially political and economic beliefs
  • Futures focuses on the direction the contested planet should take
  • Three future scenarios are recognised:

Business as usual



  • The first implies humans continue to behave in similar ways to the past i.e. high consumption and pollution
  • Sustainable futures suggests stabilising consumption and human environmental impacts
  • Radical implies concerted action to reverse environmental degradation
  • Each of the three futures have very different consequences and are supported by different players
  • Each approach has very different costs and benefits
3 section a of the exam
3. Section A of the exam
  • The five Section A questions are each worth 25 marks
  • Each question is split into a 10 mark part ‘a’, based on a Figure (resource) and a 15 mark part ‘b’.
  • Candidates should choose two questions
  • Spend no more than 40 minutes on each Section A question
  • Answers should be written in the dedicated space provided in the answer booklet 

Candidates should be very strict with timings, and keep an eye on the exam room clock

  • Section A resources will be a mixture of graphs, maps, diagrams and other illustrative material such as cartoons
  • Some text may be present and this should always be carefully read
  • Figures are provided as data stimulus, and candidates will not be asked to ‘describe’
  • Answers should focus on explanation and reasoning
  • Interpretation of Figures is a skills candidates should practice.

Carefully read Figure titles, as well as scales, axes and keys if present

Look for patterns, trends and relationships and seek to explain these

Read any text, or notes, carefully

command words
Command words
  • Command words at A2 level will be different to those at AS level; some examples are shown below
  • In Section A in Unit 3 the ‘a’ parts will often use ‘explain’ or ‘suggest reasons’ whereas the ‘b’ parts will often focus on the higher level skills of ‘assess’ and ‘evaluate’
examples and case studies
Examples and case studies

RANGE – more than one example

BALANCE – avoid being one-sided

DETAIL – example specific facts and figures

STRUCTURE – logical and organised writing

EVALUATIVE – moving towards an overview / brief conclusion

  • Students must use examples to illustrate their argument and discussion when ever they can –even when not directly asked to do so in the question.
  • This is especially important when questions use phrases such as ‘costs and benefits’ or ‘advantages and disadvantages’.
  • Avoid relying on one major case study as this often produces descriptive and unbalanced responses – a range of smaller examples illustrating several different aspects of the question is preferable
mark schemes
Mark schemes
  • All A2 work is Levels marked; there is no point marking
  • Levels mark schemes have a step-like structure, which successive levels requiring higher skills and greater precision:
4 section b of the exam
4. Section B of the exam
  • Section B is a synoptic issues analysis
  • It is based on pre-release resources in the form of a 5-6 page booklet
  • Usually the resources will be based on a region such as Europe, the Middle East or North America
  • They will focus on ONE of the topics from Unit 3 e.g. Water Conflicts of Superpower Geographies
  • The resources are written to LINK to other topics; there will be both obvious and more subtle linkages.

What is in the pre-release?

  • Text
  • Key words / terms
  • Figures – maps, tables, graphs etc
  • Views of players
  • Websites for further research
  • Options / choices may be included
the pre release phase
The pre-release phase
  • During the pre-release phase the aim is to become so familiar with the resource booklet that it does not have to be ‘read’ in the exam
  • Spending time in the exam reading and searching for information will waste time
  • There will be 3 questions, forming a linked sequence (6a, 6b, 6c)
  • Total marks are 40; the tariff for each question will be in the 10-18 range.

Refer to Figures and Views directly e.g. “Fig 2 shows that…”

Use examples and ideas from your whole course, where relevant

The first question will tend to ‘set the scene’ or make you focus on a key issue

Other questions will require you to assess or evaluate

being synoptic

Making links to other topics in Unit 3, or other AS / A2 Units; this might involve bringing in models, theories or examples from elsewhere in your course

Being synoptic
  • In order to reach the top levels of the Mark Scheme in Section B, synopticity is required
  • Essentially this means going beyond only relying on the resources printed in the Resource Booklet
  • This can be achieved in several different ways:
final points on section b
Final points on Section B
  • Make sure at least 70 minutes are set aside to complete Section B
  • Write to the mark allocation; a question worth 10 marks does not require an answer 3 sides long; a 16 mark question will need more than ¾ of one side.
  • Diagrams and tables are acceptable as part of an answer; complicated tables and scoring systems are not anticipated and will tend to take too long to complete
  • Highlight key and command words; for longer questions a very brief plan may help structure answers