Beyond the specification: Contemporary Urban Environments

Having read Kate Stockings’ ‘Beyond the Specification’ post, I thought I’d share some of the sources I use with my Year 12s and 13s, both in class and to set independent work. I will use Kate’s criteria, so resources must be:

  • Free to access
  • Engaging and readable for 6th form students
  • Encourage students to think geographically beyond the prescribed content of their course.

To help you get started, here are just 5 sources I use regularly:

  1. Reddit’s r/MapPorn: This sub-Reddit and r/DataIsBeautiful are two fantastic sources of maps for geographers.

    When encouraging student to go beyond the specification in relation to 3.2.3.2 (“Spatial patterns of land use, economic inequality, social segregation and cultural diversity in contrasting urban areas, and the factors that influence them”) I got pupils to explore these two sites.

    Ones for London can be found here.

    And ones for 3.2.3.4 (UHIE) which would be great for preparing for 6 mark analyse questions can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
  2. Susdrain: https://www.susdrain.org/ – this one is a MUST when covering 3.2.3.5 Urban drainage. It has great case studies and loads of info in very student-friendly language.
  3. London City Hall website: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/pollution-and-air-quality – a lot of you will no doubt use London as one of your cities and this site gives you the lowdown on everything London is doing in relation to 3.2.3.4 “Pollution reduction policies”.
  4. The Global Surface UHI Explorer: https://yceo.users.earthengine.app/view/uhimap – a great tool for students to use in their own time. The site displays surface urban heat islands (UHI) at a global scale, ready to be analysed by geographers!
  5. CityLab and Guardian Cities: https://www.citylab.com/ and https://www.theguardian.com/cities –  both excellent sources of further reading for pupils. In the past my students have loved getting stuck into articles about ‘pseudo public space’, inequality in São Paulo and rampant disparities in US cities.

    ‘The story of cities’ segment from the Guardian is particularly good!

TOP TIP: Ever checked out the end of an exam paper to find out where your exam board gets all those wonderful figures/infographics for? Well, AQA have made accessing very easy, but you will need an e-AQA log-in. Simply open the document, look for the source and explore that book/website/etc for even more stuff:

I’ve not even touched the sides in relation to resources for CUE – I didn’t even cover sustainable cities properly(!) – but I thought I’d keep it to 5 for now. Please feel free to let me know any you think are essential when encouraging students to go beyond the specification for CUE!

Finally, as always, if you have any questions about this then please feel free to contact me via Twitter!

Abdurrahman Pérez, May 2020
@mr_perez5

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