Geography skills an essential component of Year 7-10 Geography syllabus

Our interview with geography educator Grant Kleeman looks at how the new edition of Skills in Geography provides the best practical instruction for students.


Cambridge University Press: How is Skills in Geography Second Edition aligned to the NSW syllabus?

Grant Kleeman: Firstly, it provides a comprehensive coverage of the skills mandated by the syllabus. It does this by introducing students to each of the required skills in a step-by-step, sequenced approach supported by worked examples.

The text also provides students with multiple, contextualised opportunities to demonstrate their mastery of these skills either through theme-based units or through the study of topographic maps selected to highlight different landscapes and environments.

This edition aligns a diverse range of up-to-date stimulus material to the themes addressed in the Years 7–10 component of the NSW Geography Syllabus. These themes are: Landscapes and landforms and place and liveability (Year 7); Water and the world and interconnections (Year 8); Sustainable biomes and changing places (Year 9); and Environmental change and management and human wellbeing (Year 10).


CUP: Why is it important for students to learn geography skills?

GK: An inquiry approach to learning is central to the study of geography. It is the pedagogical foundation of the new Syllabus. The focus on inquiry assists students to make meaning of their world. It teaches them to respond to questions in a geographically distinctive way, plan an inquiry; collect, evaluate, analyse and interpret information; and suggest responses to what they have learned. They conduct fieldwork, map and interpret data and spatial distributions, and use spatial technologies. Geographical skills are the techniques that students use in their investigations, both in fieldwork and in the classroom.

CUP: How does Skills in Geography Second Edition support Year 7-10 teachers of geography?

 GK: Geography teachers are supported in a number of ways with this edition:

  • The book presents the largest collection of stimulus-based material (topographic maps; photographs, satellite images, graphs, specialist maps and illustrations) available in a single educational resource;
  • It provides clear explanations and examples that guide students to the mastery of the syllabus-specified skills;
  • Bringing together a diverse range of topographic maps drawn from a variety of Australian and international contexts, the map scales range for 1:25,000 to 1:100,000. The 1:25,000 scale maps are best used with students in Years 7–8. The 1:50,000 and 1:100,000 maps, and related activities, cater for the needs of student in Years (9–10);
  • Teachers are provided with access to difficult-to-source, large-format topographic map extracts;
  • The provision of a range of questions and activities encourages higher order thinking.


CUP: How does the Second Edition of Skill in Geography Second address new digital technologies?

GK: Skills in Geography Second Edition includes a unit focusing on digital maps. It includes an introduction to GIS, a focus on Google Earth as an important geographical tool and the use of drones to collect data.


CUP: What is the significance of the Barangaroo development in geography studies?

GK: Barangaroo is included as an example of urban renewal and consolidation (urban intensification) on a ‘brownfield’ site. It also illustrates how Australia’s integration into the global economy is helping to transform the city’s morphology (the functional form and character of Sydney). Students also have the opportunity to assess the liveability of an emerging urban precinct and evaluate the claim that it is Australia’s first environmentally sustainable development.

CUP: How is sustainability addressed in Skills in Geography Second Edition?

GK: Sustainability is addressed both directly, in a unit on Sustainable Biomes, and indirectly throughout the text. The Sustainable Biomes unit examines the nature and extent of terrestrial biomes, the protection of biomes and ecosystems, Australian biomes, and threats to biomes including land clearing, salinity, food security and climate change.  Sustainability is addressed indirectly through the book’s focus on water and environmental change and management.


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