Love the children … and make a great effort to improve their education
and raise it to as high a degree as possible. Blessed Anne-Marie Javouhey


The study of Geography is a multi-faceted examination of people and their relationships with their environment. The subject is concerned with helping to develop an understanding of the physical, social and economic processes that shape that environment. As a result, students will develop geographical skills that will help them make informed judgements about issues at local, national and international levels.


Ms. Fiona Coleman, Ms. Mary Delaney, Ms. Lauren Maher and Mr. Patrick Porter.

Junior Cycle

1st year

In implementing the Junior Cycle, each school must show how it will provide students with learning experiences described in the 24 Statements of Learning for the Junior Cycle. Geography occupies a unique place in the curriculum and has particular strengths in providing students with real-world “big picture” understandings of their learning as they progress throughout the Junior Cycle.

The study of Junior Cycle Geography enables students to become geographically literate. It stimulates curiosity, creating opportunities for students to read, analyse, synthesise and communicate about their immediate environment and wider world. It develops knowledge, skills, values and behaviours that allow students to explore the physical world, human activities, how we interact with our world and to recognise the interconnections between systems.

Strand One: Exploring the Physical World

This strand focuses on facilitating students’ exploration of how the physical world is formed and changed. Students develop knowledge and skills to understand and explain the physical world. Students engage and interact with topics related to physical geography and explore their interrelationships and any implications those topics might have on students’ lives. They apply their knowledge and skills to explain spatial characteristics and the formation of phenomena in the physical world.

Strand Two: Exploring how we interact with the physical world

This strand focuses on facilitating students’ understanding of how people interact with the physical world and the implications this might have for their lives. Students explore how we depend on, adapt, and change the physical world. Students apply their knowledge and skills to explain how we interact with our physical world for economic purposes, as well as how we adapt to physical phenomena.

Strand Three: Exploring people, place and change

This strand focuses on students exploring people, place and change. Students engage with topics related to globalisation, development, population and interdependence. Students interact with topics while exploring interrelationships and the implications those topics might have for their lives. They apply their knowledge and skills to explain settlement patterns, urbanisation, demographics, and human development

Assessment in Junior Cycle Geography

Ongoing Assessment

regular class tests at the end of each topic will be conducted to monitor student’s learning and their achievement of the learning outcomes of that topic. Student’s results will be uploaded to the Athena Tracking programme so that teacher’s can monitor their student’s progress throughout the year.

Classroom Based Assessments

CBA 1: “Geography In The News” will be conducted in the second term of second year. Students will produce and present a brief report which will be presented in a wide range of formats on a current geographical news story. Previous projects include a focus on the 2019-2020 bushfires in Australia and California, Hurricaner Katrina, the ongoing issue of climate change and its impact on glacial environments and the Haitian earthquake of 2010 amongst others.

CBA 2: “My Geography” will be completed in the first term of third year. Students will conduct a structured inquiry into a geographical aspect in their local area.

Assessment Task

On completion of the second Classroom-Based Assessment, students will undertake an Assessment Task which will be marked by the State Examinations Commission which will assess the student’s ability to reflect on their geographical thinking and their ability to reflect on the knowledge and skills they have developed through their experience of the Classroom Based Assessment

State-Certified Examination will be completed by students at the end of Third year and will consist of a two hours long exam based on the work carried out over the three year Geography course. This paper will be taken by all students at a Common Level.

2nd and 3d Year

All students are required to take Geography at Junior Level where an emphasis is placed on THREE main areas under the requirement of the Junior Certificate syllabus as outlined by the Department of Education. These three areas are as follows:

  1. Human Habitats: “Processes and Change” - Under this heading students will study the physical processes at work in our world including the factors at work at shaping the earth’s surface through a study of plate tectonics, the agents of erosion, the world’s climates and a study of the restless atmosphere with a concentration on understanding and measuring elements of the weather and identifying the instruments used in meteorology.
  2. Population, Settlement Patterns and Urbanisation - This area will ensure that students understand the basic terms of demography and factors that have affected population change on a national and global scale over time. Cross-curricular links will be developed through the study of the population of Ireland in historical and contemporary terms and the changing patterns of human settlement.
  3. Patterns in Economic Activity - This section can be subdivided under the three broad headings of Primary Economic Activities (farming, fishing, mining), Secondary Economic Activities (with an emphasis on industrial development and the role of women within industry) and Tertiary Economic Activities (with an Irish and European emphasis placed on the role of tourism in the Mediterranean).

Ordnance Map skills are developed throughout the entire Junior Cycle with an emphasis placed on the development of knowledge of key skills including identifying grid references, physical and human features and analysing the situation of towns and cities.

The study of Geography is most effective when active learning methods are used. Therefore, field trips are organised to encourage a hands-on approach to learning. In recent years such studies have been conducted in Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Howth, Co. Dublin, Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly, The Blackwater Bog (Co.Offaly), the Ploughing Championships to study the primary economic activity of farming and spin-off industries and to illustrate the operation of a system; a case study of Bord na Mona factory in Co. Offaly has been undertaken.

Transition Year

Since September 2022, Geography has been offered (along with other choice subjects at Senior Cycle) as a taster module to allow Transition year students the opportunity to make informed choices about their Senior cycle subjects.

Over a six-week rotational period, Transition year students will be introduced to key geographical aspects studied at senior cycle. A well-rounded introduction to a) physical geography, b) regional geography, c) geoecology and d) map skills is taken with students developing Junior cycle skills such as Ordnance map reading, plate tectonics and economic activities which are also examinable at senior cycle. Students are introduced to how the senior cycle course is examined and marked.

The Transition Year Geography programme is under constant revision amongst the members of the Geography Department.

Geography 006 MS Jan 2024.JPG

Senior Cycle

At the Leaving Certificate Level, the uptake of Geography is one of choice and presently, 31 percent of the total number of sixth year students and 46% in 5th year have opted to continue their study of this subject to senior cycle. The Leaving Certificate Geography course was revised in 2006 and currently the revised syllabus has a core, elective and option structure. We are a successful and vibrant department with 81% of our students (40) receiving a H2 grade and above (80-100%) in their 2023 Leaving Certificate exams in comparison to the national average of 31%. In 2023, 93% of our students took the Higher Level paper (in contrast to a national level of 83%) with the average CAO points obtained by our students in 2023 to be 90.

In fifth year, the physical and regional sections are covered (relating to the core section) with an emphasis placed on the elective and option section to be completed in sixth year. All students will build on and develop in greater detail the knowledge that they acquired during the Junior Cycle.

Section 1

Core unit. The main objective of the core unit is to provide a useful tool through which students can understand and interpret the physical landscape. This unit also places an emphasis on the interactions humans have had with the physical processes at work in the environment through a study of rocks, rivers and the work of the sea. Through a study of FIVE main regions on a global scale (West of Ireland, Greater Dublin Area, The Paris Basin, the Mezzogiorno in Southern Italy and the Indian Subcontinent, students will understand the interaction of physical, economic and human processes in EACH of these five regions.

Section 2

Elective Unit. This offers the student the opportunity to study the Patterns and Processes in Economic Activities (where such areas as globalisation, the influence of the E.U and sustainable development will be studied) or “Patterns and Processes in the Human Environment” where an emphasis on population studies, migration and urban issues will be examined.

Section 3

Option. This allows the student the opportunity to develop their skills in ONE of four options. Such options include Global Interdependence, Geoecology, Culture and Identity and The Atmosphere-Ocean Environment. This optional unit is for Higher Level students only. In Mount Sackville the option of Geoecology is routinely taken as our main area of study.

Short answer questions are also asked in the Leaving Certificate Geography paper where the student must choose 10 out of the 12 questions set. These questions can be taken from the Core unit alongside questions based on the analysis of Ordnance Survey maps and statistical skills.

A Geographical Investigation is also required to be studied for the Leaving Certificate. This investigation has an allocation of 100 marks at both Ordinary AND Higher Level and is separate from the written examination. One topic will be chosen as a basis for further study and while it is acceptable that candidates may work in groups on one investigation topic, each candidate will be required to submit for assessment an individual report. In Mount Sackville a study of the physical processes (either deposition or erosion) in a river environment is routinely chosen as a topic for investigation and accounts for 20% of the final mark. Such investigations and fieldwork studies provide the opportunity for students to develop key geographical skills that they have been introduced to during their time of study. Previous study areas include Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, Enniscrone, Co. Sligo and Portrane Beach, Co. Dublin

Useful Links

  • Allows the student access to marking schemes for any subject that is on the Junior AND Leaving Certificate course. With respect to Geography, papers and marking schemes can be obtained as far back as 2001 in which students can see the division of marks for questions on BOTH papers.
  • An Irish website which is an excellent revision tool for Junior AND Leaving Certificate students. Drop down menus allow the student access to a range of geographical topics from which they can choose a particular area for further study.
  • Provides information on the history, geography, communications and economy of 266 nations. Provides country comparisons on a global scale.
  • The United States Geographical Survey website which has an emphasis on physical geography. Contains a multitude of online videos, presentations and case studies relating to major earthquakes, volcanoes and climate change issues.
  • An online resource that allows the student access to newspaper reports, multimedia presentations and photos of key earthquakes that have occurred over time. Tsunamis are also covered in this fascinating resource.
23 2024
Leaving Certificate 2024 Results
26 2024
1st Year Induction
27 2024
TY Trip to Carlingford
27 2024
1st Year Induction
Mount Sackville Secondary School,
Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny,
Dublin 20,
D20 WP68

01 821 3317
01 821 4061

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