The Physical Options

Option 1: Plate Tectonics and
Associated Hazards

Plate movement
Earth structure, plate tectonics theory: convection
currents and sea-floor spreading. Evidence:
continental drift and palaeomagnetism.
Destructive, constructive and conservative plate
margins. Processes: seismicity and vulcanicity.
Associated landforms: young fold mountains, rift valleys,
ocean ridges, deep sea trenches and island arcs.
Hot spots associated with plumes of magma and
their relationship to plate movement.

Variations in the type and frequency of volcanic
activity in relation to types of plate margin and types
of lava.
Forms of intrusive activity – dykes, sills, batholiths.
The above paragraph has been added. This
addition will apply in the January 2012 and
subsequent examinations.
Minor forms of extrusive activity – geysers, hot
springs and boiling mud.
Major forms of extrusive activity – types of volcanoes.
Two case studies of recent (ideally within the last 30
years) volcanic events should be undertaken from
contrasting areas of the world. In each case, the
following should be examined:
• the nature of the volcanic hazard
• the impact of the event
• management of the hazard and responses to the

The causes and main characteristics of earthquakes:
focus and epicentre; seismic waves and earthquake
Tsunamis – characteristics and causes.
Two case studies of recent (ideally within the last 30
years) seismic events should be undertaken from
contrasting areas of the world. In each case, the
following should be examined:
• the nature of the seismic hazard;
• the impact of the event;
• management of the hazard and responses to the

Option 2: Weather and Climate and
Associated Hazards

Major climate controls
The structure of the atmosphere, the atmospheric
heat budget, the general atmospheric circulation,
planetary surface winds, latitude, oceanic circulation
and altitude.

The climate of the British Isles
Basic climatic characteristics: temperature,
precipitation and wind.
Air masses affecting the British Isles.
Origin and nature of depressions. Weather changes
associated with the passage of a depression.
Origin and nature of anticyclones. Associated
weather conditions in winter and summer.
Storm events: their occurrence, their impact and
responses to them. One case study from within the
last 30 years should be undertaken.

The climate of one tropical region (tropical wet/
dry savanna or monsoon or equatorial)
Basic climatic characteristics: temperature,
precipitation and wind.
The role of sub-tropical anticyclones and the intertropical
convergence zone.
Tropical revolving storms. Their occurrence, their
impact, management of the hazard and responses
to the event. Two case studies of recent (within the
last 30 years) tropical revolving storms should be
undertaken from contrasting areas of the world.

Climate on a local scale: urban climates
Temperatures: the urban heat island effect.
Precipitation: frequency and intensity, fogs,
thunderstorms, and their relationship to urban form
and processes.
Air quality: particulate pollution, photochemical smog
and pollution reduction policies.
Winds: the effects of urban structures and layout on
variations in wind speed, direction and frequency.

Global climate change
Evidence for climatic change over the last 20 000
Global warming – possible causes. Possible effects:
on a global scale, on the chosen tropical region
(above) and on the British Isles.
Responses to global warming: international, national
and local.

The Human Options
Option 4: World Cities

The global pattern: millionaire cities, mega cities and
world cities.
Economic development and change related to

Contemporary urbanisation processes
Urbanisation: characteristics, causes and effects.
Suburbanisation: characteristics, causes and effects.
Counter-urbanisation: characteristics, causes and
Re-urbanisation: characteristics, causes and effects.
Planning and management issues.
Contrasting case studies within countries at different
levels of economic development to demonstrate the

Urban decline and regeneration within
urban areas
Characteristics and causes of urban decline.
Urban regeneration: gentrification, property-led
regeneration schemes, partnership schemes between
local and national governments and the private

Retailing and other services
The decentralisation of retailing and other services –
causes and impacts.
One case study of an out of town centre retailing
The redevelopment of urban centres – impacts and
responses, including one case study of an urban
centre that has undergone redevelopment.

Contemporary sustainability issues in urban
Waste management: recycling and its alternatives.
Transport and its management: the development of
integrated, efficient and sustainable systems.

Option 5: Development and

Development – economic, demographic, social,
political and cultural changes associated with
development; the development continuum.
Globalisation – factors and dimensions: flows
of capital, labour, products and services; global
marketing; patterns of production, distribution and

Patterns and processes
Newly Industrialised countries (NICs): their initial
growth, with particular reference to the “Asian Tiger”
Further growth of NICs, with particular reference to
Globalisation of services, with particular reference to
Growth in the 21st century – the impact of new
markets and new technologies (for example in Brazil,
Russia and oil-producing countries).

Countries at very low levels of economic
Characteristics and issues – quality of life, debt, social

Global social and economic groupings
The concept of the North/South divide, and its
relationship to the development continuum.
Reasons for the social and economic groupings of
nations, with particular reference to the European
The consequences of the groupings of nations.

Aspects of globalisation
Transnational corporations (TNCs): characteristics
and spatial organisation.
Reasons for the growth and the spatial organisation
of transnational corporations (TNCs).
Case study of one TNC should be undertaken.
Social, economic and environmental impacts of TNCs
on their host countries, and their countries of origin.

Development issues within the world (each to be
studied with reference to contrasting areas of
the world)
“Trade versus aid”.
“Economic sustainability versus environmental
“Sustainable tourism, myth or reality”.