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Geography NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum Stage 5 Year 9&10


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Written by leading geography educators, Geography NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum is a comprehensive and compelling resource package that caters for the range of learning styles and abilities in NSW classrooms without sacri cing the depth and quality of content needed to understand geographical concepts, skills and tools.

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About the authors

Kate Thompson is the head teacher of secondary studies at Aurora College and lecturer to postgraduate students studying the Master of Teaching/Education at Australian Catholic University. Kate was awarded a New South Wales Premier’s Teacher Scholarship in addition to an Outstanding Professional Service Award issued by the New South Wales Minister for Education. She holds a Bachelor of Economics (Social Sciences), Master of Teaching, Master of Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management and a Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education. She has worked in curriculum development, advisory and support roles, has developed HSC exams at the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW (BOSTES) and is passionate about engaging students, using technology to support learning, differentiation and improving literacy. She is a keen geographer, having taught it for 15 years, and seeks out interesting case studies and fieldwork opportunities. She has worked with stakeholders to develop contemporary integrated units of learning and has also developed a range of online learning modules for Stage 4 and 5 Geography, utilising web 2.0 tools, to improve student outcomes and digital literacy in Geography.

Catherine Acworth is a senior coastal specialist within the Crown Lands division of the NSW Department of Primary Industries and has been working in the field of coastal management for over five years. In addition to working on the Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project, Catherine has managed significant storm surge and coastal inundation projects for the Queensland Government Coastal Impacts Unit, in particular the Gulf of Carpentaria Storm Tide and Inundation Study. She has an Honours degree in Marine Science from the University of Sydney and a Masters in Coastal Engineering and Management from the University of New South Wales. She has travelled extensively in developing nations and her personal research involves using film and photography to document the effects of climate change and climate change adaptation strategies in coastal communities.

Alan Boddy teaches at Bendigo Senior Secondary College and lectures in Geography Method at La Trobe University, Bendigo campus. Alan has been involved in Geography education for 32 years. He has taught Geography for nine years at the 7–10 level and over 20 years at the senior level. He was Head of Department in Humanities at Bendigo Senior Secondary College and a lecturer at La Trobe University’s Outdoor Education and Environment Centre for several years. He was Education Officer at Melbourne Zoo, the Central Deborah Gold Mine and the Discovery Science and Technology Centre for the City of Greater Bendigo. He has also contributed to the recent publication The Travellers’ Guide to the Goldfields.

Tamara Boyer graduated from Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, with a Bachelor of Education. She has been teaching Geography, Humanities and Religious Education to secondary students since 1997, and has held various leadership roles including the Head of Society & Environment at Aranmore Catholic College, Councillor for the Geographical Association of Western Australia and School Support Consultant for Catholic Education Western Australia. She has also been appointed as an adviser and writer for Geography curricula by state and national education authorities, and contracted to write resources and provide professional development for teachers. Her publications in geography include both print and online resources and it is her goal to get as many young people to love geography just as much as she does. She is currently completing a Master of Education in Leadership and Management at the University of Notre Dame Australia.

David Butler is an executive member of the Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) and is coordinator of the AAEE Teacher and Teacher Education Special Interest Group (TTE SIG). David is a key writer with Reconciliation South Australia in the development of the Foundation to Middle Years Reconciliation Education packs and learning circles. He has over 30 years’ experience in working with and writing Geography curriculum and teaching and learning guidelines through his involvement with South Australian state Geography committees, the Geography Teachers’ Association of South Australia (GTASA) and tutoring in Geography education at Flinders University. He is former President of the Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) and the GTASA, and is a life member of GTASA. He was also Manager of the Society and Environment curriculum in the South Australian Education Department and a member of the initial Australian Curriculum: Geography Advisory Panel for the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Rex Cooke is the Head of Geography at St Ignatius College, Riverview. Rex has been teaching Geography since 2001 in a number of schools in regional and city areas of New South Wales. He completed a Masters of Educational Leadership (School Education) from Macquarie University in 2009. He has extensive experience with teaching Geography and is an experienced marker of the HSC Geography Examination, Judge Marker for the HSC Geography Examination and also a member of a committee that sets the Catholic Trial HSC Examination. He is also a lecturer at Australian Catholic University for Stage 6 Geography teaching methodologies and previously lectured at the University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney for Geography teaching methodologies.

Matthew Davidson has been head Geography teacher at Waverley Christian College in Wantirna South, Victoria, for the past 10 years. Matthew has presented sessions at various conferences and events, including the annual Geography Teachers Association of Victoria (GTAV) conference, Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) conferences and Christian Schools Australia (CSA) conferences as well as Geography VCE exam revision lectures. He has also been a year level coordinator for a number of years and is currently a member of the GTAV Committee. He is an innovative Geography teacher who is passionate about developing curriculum that is relevant and engaging.

Cheryl Desha has a degree in Engineering (Environmental, first class) and a PhD in rapid curriculum renewal. Cheryl’s research for the last decade has focused on building capacity for sustainable development within tertiary education, including outreach and bridging with secondary schools, managing the development of high school resources on a range of sustainability topics in collaboration with the Australian Sustainable Living Challenge (UNSW, Griffith University). She is Discipline Leader (Environmental Systems) and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Earth, Environment and Biological Science (Science and Engineering Faculty) at the Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Queensland). She is also a Principal Researcher with The Natural Edge Project (TNEP), a sustainability think-tank which operates as a collaborative partnership for research, education and policy development on innovation for sustainable development.

Deirdre Dragovich is an associate professor in the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney and has taught both undergraduate and postgraduate geography and geomorphology. Deirdre currently supervises PhD students and is responsible for teaching two postgraduate units in environmental science. She is co-author of The Australian Physical Environment (2008) and co-editor of the earlier Meridian series of first-year university Geography texts. As Associate Dean in the Faculty of Science, she was instrumental in establishing 10 postgraduate degrees, several involving inter-faculty contributions from Electrical Engineering, Economics, Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Architecture and Arts. She was awarded the Macdonald Holmes medal for contributions to geographical education and a Fellowship by the Geographical Society of NSW, a Fellowship of the Institute of Australian Geographers for contributions to geography, and was a member of the advisory committee for the national Geography curriculum.

Tony Eggleton is an emeritus professor of the Australian National University. Tony graduated with first class Honours in Science from the University of Adelaide, and then completed the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, USA. For his extensive research into mineralogy he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science by the University of Adelaide in 1999. In 2011 his book A Short Introduction to Climate Change was published by Cambridge University Press.

Xiumei Guo is a research fellow at the Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute in Australia. Xiumei completed her PhD examining Chinese immigration in Australia and her research interests are in the areas of demography, economic development, energy efficiency and sustainability studies, with a focus on China. She is currently conducting research for the Australian Research Council on energy efficiency, economic growth and the environment in China.

Karlson ‘Charlie’ Hargroves, after graduating from the University of Adelaide in 2000 and spending two years as a practising civil/structural design engineer, co-founded ‘The Natural Edge Project’ (TNEP), an internationally recognised team of action-based academics across various universities including Curtin University, Queensland University of Technology and Adelaide University. Charlie and the TNEP team have delivered five international books on sustainable development (selling over 85&&000 copies in six languages). The first book, The Natural Advantage of Nations, won the Australian Banksia Award for Environmental Leadership, Education and Training in 2005, and the two most recent books were ranked among the Top 40 Sustainability Books in the world in 2010 by the Cambridge Sustainability Leaders Program, with Cents and Sustainability ranked 5th and Factor 5 ranked 12th. He is a full member of the Club of Rome and joined the Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) team in 2010 to work on a series of projects focused on the sustainable built environment, in collaboration with the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre and the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Low Carbon Living. He is also a Sustainable Development Fellow at the University of Adelaide Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation, and Innovation Centre (ECIC).

Christina Keighran teaches Geography at St Ignatius College, Riverview. Prior to working at St Ignatius, Christina taught Geography for five years at Kambala. She has a keen interest in implementing technology into the classroom, having also worked as an iLearning Integrator at St Ignatius. She has presented at a range of different teaching forums on how to effectively use Google Maps, Apps for Fieldwork and Learning Management Systems to create an interactive and blended learning environment. She has also been involved in programming events for the Australian Curriculum Geography.

Grace Larobina is the HSIE faculty Geography subject facilitator at The Hills Grammar School in New South Wales. Grace has taught years 7–8 History, years 7–12 Geography and years 11–12 Legal Studies over her 28-year teaching career. She has had experience in girls’ education and coeducation at various NSW schools including Cerdon College and Mary MacKillop College. She completed her teacher training at the Catholic College of Education Sydney, where she graduated with her Diploma of Teaching, and at the South Australian College of Advanced Education, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Education. She has been employed by the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW (BOSTES) for Geography School Certificate Marker and Higher School Certificate (2005), served on the BOSTES Geography Reference Group (2012), served as the independent sector representative for the ACARA Mapping the Australian Curriculum Draft F–10 (2012) and is accredited by both the Independent Schools Teacher Accreditation Authority (ISTAA) at Classroom/Professional Excellence level (2007) as well as through the NSW Institute of Teachers to the level of Professional Accomplishment (2011). She has also served as a council member on the Geography Teachers’ Association of NSW since 2010. She has travelled extensively in Europe, the USA, the Pacific Islands and Canada, and has an intense interest in the geography and history of societies.

David Lergessner is a retired Queensland high school teacher and university lecturer. David has written extensively on the Geography curriculum and pedagogy, and wrote the ‘People and Environment’ series (1989–92) as well as Geomorphology (1995). He was a high school Geography head of department for 35 years before retiring and lecturing at both Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology (QUT). He has held almost all positions in the Geography Teachers’ Association of Queensland (GTAQ) except treasurer and for many years was the journal editor and conference convenor. He is a regular presenter at GTAQ and Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) conferences on topics to do with physical geography, with his study of environmental hazards taking him around the world six times to places like Mount St Helens, Greenland, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Antarctica.

Dora Marinova is a professor of sustainability and director of the Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute in Perth, Western Australia. Dora’s current research relates to population and sustainability, the role of new technologies, technology policy and economic development in Australia and China, including transformation towards a low-carbon economy. She has more than 400 publications and has supervised to completion more than 45 PhD students. She has conducted research for the Australian Research Council, CRC Desert Knowledge and industry as well as the federal and Western Australian state governments.

Simon Miller is currently head of Geography at Pembroke School in Adelaide. He has been a specialist Geography teacher for 10 years, working in both the United Kingdom and Australia. He has served on the executive committee of the Geography Association of South Australia for seven years. He has co-authored a workbook for the BBC Bitesize series in the United Kingdom, where he has also contributed to the Geography Association’s Geography Teacher’s Handbook.

Peter Newman is the professor of sustainability at Curtin University. Peter is a lead author for transport for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has written 16 books, including his book with Jeff Kenworthy, Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence, which was launched in the White House in 1999. In 2001–03 he directed the production of Western Australia’s Sustainability Strategy in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. It was the first state sustainability strategy in the world. In 2004–05 he was a sustainability commissioner in Sydney, advising the government on planning issues. In Perth, he is best known for his work in saving, reviving and extending the city’s rail system. He invented the term ‘automobile dependence’ to describe how we have created cities where we have to drive everywhere. In 2014 he was awarded an Order of Australia for his work on urban design and sustainable transport.

Nonja Peters is the director of the History of Migration Experiences (HOME) Centre at Curtin University. Nonja is an historian, anthropologist, museum curator and social researcher with a special interest in the preservation of immigrants’ cultural heritage: in particular, Dutch maritime, military, migration and mercantile connections with Australia since 1606; the migration experience; and immigrant entrepreneurship. She is currently involved in academic and community-based research in all these fields. She sits on the board of the National Library of Australia, the Maritime Museum Advisory Committee, the National Archives Advisory Committee and Associated Netherlands Societies of Western Australia. She has been awarded the Centenary Medal and a Dutch Knighthood for the preservation of immigrants’ cultural heritage. She has also published widely on issues relating to migration and her book Milk and Honey – But no Gold: Postwar Migration to Western Australia 1945–1964, was shortlisted for the Western Australian Premier’s 2001 Literary Award, the Queensland Premier’s 2002 Literary Award for History and the New South Wales State Records John and Patricia Ward History Prize. She was formerly the director of the Migration, Ethnicity, Refugees & Citizenship Research Unit.

Ken Purnell was editor of Geographical Education and is on several other journal boards. Ken is also an associate professor at Central Queensland University Australia where he teaches Geographical Education as well as holding various academic leadership roles (see In 2014, he won the Distinguished Alumni Award for Geography from Western Michigan University in the USA.

Angela Reeve has a degree in Engineering (Environmental, first class honours) and a PhD in mainstreaming biophilic urbanism. Over the last six years, Angela’s research has been focused on fostering behaviour change for energy efficiency, rapid curriculum renewal for engineering programs in Australia to integrate more energy efficiency content into courses, and informing sustainability policies for regional plans. She is an associate lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, and a researcher with the Natural Edge Project (TNEP), a sustainability think-tank, which operates as a collaborative partnership for research, education and policy development on innovation for sustainable development.

Margaret Robertson is professor of Education at La Trobe University. Margaret is a former research director for the faculty and currently holds the position of Deputy Chair of the Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Geography. Her long association with the International Geographical Union has included serving an eight-year period as executive secretary for the Geographical Education Commission. Her research and publication interests focus on cultural geography, particularly young people’s geographies and applications of social media and digital technologies. She has been recognised for her contributions to education with a fellowship of the Australian College of Educators.

Heather Ruckert teaches Geography and is part of the Careers Consultancy team at Tintern Schools in Melbourne. Heather has a diverse background with tertiary studies in Geography, Economics, Information and Communications Technology, Management and Career Development. She is a highly experienced teacher with curriculum writing expertise across all secondary levels, including the International Baccalaureate, and her career spans over 20 years in the independent schools sector. Her roles as a former head of Geography and pastoral leader have shaped her holistic approach to student learning with her passion for geographic inquiry in the field.

Jesmond Sammut is an associate professor in Physical Geography, Faculty of Science at the University of New South Wales. Jesmond is also an adjunct professor and visiting professor at Gadjah Mada University and Hasanuddin University, respectively. He conducts multidisciplinary research involving studies on soil and water processes, groundwater chemistry, river processes, causes of fish kills and fish disease outbreaks, the environmental impacts of development and sustainable development of coastal and inland resources. His current research involves improving food and income security in developing countries. He manages research and capacity building programs in Indonesia, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea and has also worked in India, Thailand and the Philippines to apply geographical skills to environmental and aquaculture production problems. He teaches Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Coastal Resource Management to undergraduate and postgraduate students in Australia and Indonesia, and also coordinates research and technical capacity building programs in developing nations. He is also the PNG Fisheries Consultant for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and an editor of the Indonesian Aquaculture Journal.

Laura Stocker is an associate professor in Sustainability at Curtin University and holds a PhD in marine ecology. In 1990, Laura established Australia’s first university course in sustainable development. She now researches and teaches at the Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute in coastal sustainability, governance of coastal adaptation to climate change, sustainability education, and sustainability mapping and planning. She coordinates the Master’s degree course in Sustainability and Climate Policy. She is also deputy leader of the Coastal Collaboration Cluster, funded by the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans and Climate Adaptation Research Flagships, and deputy leader of the Governance Theme of the Cluster.

Fiona Tonizzo is the VCAL and VCE educational leader at Pakenham Secondary College. Since beginning her teaching career, Fiona has been involved in curriculum development. She is passionate about teaching Geography and has taught at Patterson River Secondary College, where she was the head of Humanities. She counts being a foundation staff member at Kambrya College (formerly known as Berwick South Secondary College) as one of her most satisfying roles: she was a member of the team that began the school and oversaw the first few years of VCE at the college. She has always believed in maintaining professional ties to fellow educators, including the Geography Teachers’ Association of Victoria (GTAV). She has presented many workshops through the GTAV at annual conferences, as well as at specialty conferences such as ‘Thinking skills in the Geography curriculum and VCE’. She is currently the network leader for the Berwick group of the GTAV.

Andrew Walker teaches Geography, History and English at Parade College in Bundoora. Andrew is also a teacher of Outdoor Education and has a hands-on approach to Geography. He takes every opportunity he can to get his students out into the field with a map, a compass and a GPS.

Michelle Walker has a degree in Environmental Science with first class honours. Michelle has worked on water planning and water conservation projects, with a focus on behaviour change, in remote central Australia and Townsville, and she is a Research Fellow with The Natural Edge Project (TNEP). She has spent time volunteering with the Swatcha Ganga Abhiyan (Clean Ganges Campaign) in India, where she lived in the city of Varanasi and worked to build youth environmental leadership skills. Currently she is undertaking a PhD, conducting research into the value of Indigenous knowledge in protecting freshwater resources in the Kimberley region, WA.

To view a sample chapter, click on the file below in blue.

Full PDF Textbook

Complete textbook [PDF 77.5Mb]

PDF Textbook chapters

Preliminary Pages [PDF 3.5Mb]

Geographical skills toolkit [PDF 2.4Mb]

Chapter 1: Biomes [PDF 7.1Mb]

Chapter 2: Changing biomes [PDF 9.3Mb]

Chapter 3: Biomes produce food [PDF 4.5Mb]

Chapter 4: Challenges to food production [PDF 3.8Mb]

Chapter 5: Food security [PDF 3.1Mb]

Chapter 6: Causes and consequences of urbanisation [PDF 4.1Mb]

Chapter 7: Urban settlement patterns [PDF 5.3Mb]

Chapter 8: Internal migration [PDF 3.9Mb]

Chapter 9: International migration [PDF 3.0Mb]

Chapter 10: Australia's urban future [PDF 3.7Mb]

Chapter 11: Environments [PDF 2.9Mb]

Chapter 12: Environmental change [PDF 3.4Mb]

Chapter 13: Environmental management [PDF 4.1Mb]

Chapter 14: Investigative study - Marine environments [PDF 2.7Mb]

Chapter 14a: Investigative study - Land environments [PDF 2.1Mb]

Chapter 14b: Investigative study - Inland water environments [PDF 2.2Mb]

Chapter 14c: Investigative study - Coastal environments [PDF 3.0Mb]

Chapter 14d: Investigative study - Urban environments [PDF 2.9Mb]

Chapter 15: Human wellbeing and development [PDF 1.9Mb]

Chapter 16: Spatial variations in human wellbeing [PDF 5.1Mb]

Chapter 17: Human wellbeing in Australia [PDF 3.8Mb]

Chapter 18: Improving human wellbeing [PDF 2.3Mb]

Glossary and Index [PDF 0.6Mb]

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Geographical skills and tools videos

These videos are designed to provide teachers and students with further digital resources. They are specifically focused on developing key geographical skills, using different geographical tools and unpacking geographical inquiry skills in the study of geography in NSW.

Weblinks docs

These suggested videos target specific geographical inquiry skills, and may be of interest to users of the series. Please note that these suggested weblinks take users to external websites not moderated by Cambridge University Press.

These suggested videos offer tips on the use of geographical tools, ICT applications, and other relevant geographical content across Stages 4 & 5 in NSW. They may be of interest to users of the series. Please note that these suggested weblinks take users to external websites not moderated by Cambridge University Press.

Case study 13.1 questions

Please note that the Habitat Advocate website is no longer available. Below are replacement ABC weblinks and activity questions that have been slightly changed to suit the replacement videos.

Watch the following ABC News footage about Lake Pedder. These news stories were filmed prior to the flooding. See!/media/28755/lake-pedder-s-future and
1 Although the films are black and white, what geographical features are noticeable of Lake Pedder prior to the flooding?
2 What do you think the opinion is of each of the ABC journalists and the people they interview?
3 What would be the worldview held by the journalists be in comparison to the worldview held by the Tasmanian government?
4 Adopt the worldview of either the government or the public (or adopt a different worldview) in relation to Lake Pedder. Deliver a 3 minute speech to the media about the key issues and the best responses.  Provide reasons for your chosen responses, refer to quotes and data too. Be prepared for questions from the media (ie: your class).
5 Research online the life of photographer and conservationist Olegas Truchanas. Write a paragraph outlining his life story and the impact he had in the story of Lake Pedder. His photographs of Lake Pedder can be viewed here:

Source 17.5

Please note that Australia’s OECD Better Life Index results in Source 17.5 should be scores out of ten and not include percentages.


Kate Thompson (Series Editor)