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Year Ten Unit Two: The living world​​​​​​​

This unit is made up of Section B of Paper 1 of the AQA GCSE Geography specification.  Students begin by looking at ecosystems, before studying tropical rainforest and hot desert environments.



Knowledge acquired:

AQA GCSE Geography specification:

  • Ecosystems (at a range of scales)
  • Tropical rainforest ecosystems
  • Hot desert environments

Skills developed:

  • To be able to analyse a range of data relating to ecosystems and the changes affecting these and be able to use this data to compare and evaluate.
  • To be able to analyse maps and diagrams to describe and explain locational patterns of the distribution and functions of ecosystems.


  • Ability to understand geographical concepts and processes relating to the location and changes affecting ecosystems at different scales.

Links to previous study (where applicable):

  • Links to Africa, studied in Year 7.
  • Links to Ecosystems, studied in Year 8.
  • Links to Weather and Climate, studied in Year 9 and in Unit 1 of Year 10.

Links to future study / the wider world (where applicable):

  • Links to Sections C of Paper 1.
  • Link to A Level e.g. AQA A Level – Hot Deserts and Landscapes and Ecosystems under stress.



Number of Lessons:

Sequence of lessons:  Approx. 15 lessons (some lessons take longer than one hour to complete)


Tropical Rainforests

Hot deserts

  1. Small-scale ecosystems
  2. How change affects ecosystems
  3. Global ecosystems
  1. Characteristics of rainforests
  2. Causes of deforestation
  3. Impacts of deforestation
  4. Managing tropical rainforests
  5. Sustainable management of tropical rainforests
  1. Characteristics of hot deserts
  2. Opportunities for development in hot deserts
  3. Challenges of development in hot deserts
  4. Causes of desertification in hot deserts
  5. Limiting desertification in hot deserts

Main resources:

  • OUP GCSE Geography Textbook for AQA: Pages 50-76
  • Teacher-prepared PowerPoint activities for each lesson.
  • GCSEpod clips for each component.

Method(s) of assessment: 

  • A number of exam style questions (4 – 12 marks) assessed during the topic.
  • End of topic tests at the end of ‘Ecosystems and Tropical Rainforests’ and ‘Hot deserts’
  • Assessed as part of June Mock in Year 10.
  • Final assessment: assessed within Paper 1 (sat in May of Year 11) .

Use of assessment result(s):

  • Used to identify areas of weakness in terms of knowledge and skills.  Addressed throughout the remainder of the course.