Geography: Map Skills (Topic 1)

Topic 1: Basic skills

a. Label and annotate diagrams, maps, graphs and sketches

Label – simple indication of what something is

Annotation – Adding notes to explain what something is

Key Terminology

  • Quantity (Fewer/more)
  • Pattern (Fairly/quite/very)
  • Where (North/East/South/West)
  • Shape (Clustered/linear/dispersed)

Trends on the graph

Overview – What happens overall

Variation – Always increase/specific changes

b. Draw sketches from photographs and whilst infield

  • Draw a frame of the size you want the sketch to be
  • Lightly divide the frame into quarters as guidelines
  • Draw in features (rivers, coastline and hills)
  • Add appropriate labels and annotations

c. Use and interpret aerial, oblique and satellite photos for different landscapes

  • Oblique aerial – Aerial photos taken by a plane at an angle less than 180
  • Vertical aerial – aerial photos taken directly above
  • Satellite photo – an image taken from space

Physical features –

  • Relief – you need to state contour patterns, landforms, steepness of slope and the specific height of the slope
  • Valleys – Shape, gradient and the height of the valley
  • Woodland – location, how large the woodland is, plantations (What type of wood – coniferous or deciduous trees?) scattered/dispersed?
  • Rough pasture – location and amount
  • Site – height of slope, landforms, water supply and resources
  • Situation – relate to site relief, drainage and settlements
  • Shape – linear? nucleated? dispersed?
  • Drainage – number of rivers, direction of flow, width of the river, straight/winding, tributaries, lakes, salt marshes and floodplains


Topic 2: Cartographic skills

2.1 atlas maps

a. recognise and describe distributions and patterns of both human and physical features

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 8.10.10 PM.png

Types of site –

  • Lowest bridging point – the lowest bridging point of a river, often where it meets the mouth (sea)
  • Coastal town – many towns, eg. Brighton are situated by the coast for previous communication, industry and now tourism
  • Spring line settlements – site on springs at the base of hillsg-geo-rocksl-dia08.gif
  • Gap town – Town scited on either side of a river
  • Defensive site – place (usually a castle) needing to be defended within a meander (moat), on top of a hill


Describing relief (shape of the land)

  1. General state (flat/hilly) -contour patterns
  2. Specific height above sea level and the anomalies
  3. Name specifically where the gentler slopes are and the steeper slopes exist
  • Uniform slope – contours decrease evenly
  • Convex slope – contours gather closer together at the bottom (height increasing rapily, slope is steep) Further apart towards the top – this shows that the slope is more gentle.
  • Concave slope – contour lines further apart at the bottom, closer towards the top
  • V-shaped valley (ON RIVERS) – distance between contours is regular
  • U-shaped valley ( ON RIVERS ) – distance between the contours is regular, contours increase quickly (steeper slope)

Describing drainage

  1. Name the shape and the main rivers that drain the area
  2. Describe the sea if necessary
  3. Where the river is, using 4 and 6 point grid references

Describing woodland distribution

  1. 6 or 4 grid reference
  2. Name of the woodland
  3. Scattered/clustered/evenly spread/sparsely distributed
  4. Elevation above sea level
  5. Ridgeline and rivers
  6. Type of woodland (coniferous or deciduous?)

2.2 sketch maps

a. recognise/draw/label/annotate/understand and interpret sketch maps

  • Perspective (N/S/E/W, oblique, aerial, side, top)
  • Scale
  • Location
  • Label and annotate (key if needed)

2.3 ordnance survey maps 1:50,000 scale

a. recognise symbols using a key, four figure and six figure grid references, straight line and winding differences

  • Vertical lines on an OS map are northings
  • Horizontal lines on as OS map are Eastings
  • To give a 4 figure grid reference: first two digits are the Eastings, last two refer to the northings
  • To give a 6 figure grid reference: first three digits are earrings, last two are northings
  • go ‘along the corridor’ (go along eastings line) and ‘up/down the stairs’ (go along the northings line

b. demonstrate an understanding of direction using an eight point compass


c. demonstrate an understanding of cross sections

  • Cross sections show the topography of the land
  • Height is measured in 10M intervals


d. complete and annotate cross section diagrams, indicating height, degree of slop and simple contour patternsScreen Shot 2016-07-27 at 9.45.57 AM.png

e. recognise and describe patterns of vegetation, land use and communications

  • Vegetation – Coniferous/deciduous trees, orchards, scrubs, roughs, grassland and marshes
  • Land use – golf courses, residential areas, roads, allotments. Location, shape and pattern
  • Communications – Canals, rivers, railways and roads. You must know the difference between A+B+C roads, motorways and rough tracks.

f. describe and identify site, situation and shape

Describing site – A land that a settlement is built on

  1. Height of the land
  2. Direction it slopes
  3. Any prominent landforms, eg. meanders, floodplains and valleys

Describing situation – Human features around the settlement

  1. Where they are on the map (Use four figure grid references)
  2. Physical features which can be seen all around it, like woods, rivers, seas and valleys – use six figure if applicable
  3. Human features which can be seen, like roads, railways and other settlements. Definitely use six figure grid references

Describing shape – the shape of the settlement


g. recognise and describe distributions and patterns of both human and physical features

See Topic 1, Part C

h. infer human activity from map evidence, including tourism

  • If a map has a lot of tourist symbols, for example caravan parks or spot height points, you can infer that his area is of tourist attraction
  • If there are large fields and isolated/dispersed settlements, you can assume the land is used for agriculture

i. use maps in association with photographs, sketches and written directions

Draw a grid around the specified map points and identify the key features of the photo using the map

Topic 3: Graphical skills

a. construct and complete a variety of graphs, charts and maps

  • Bar graph – shows discontinuous data
  • Histograms – show discontinuous data as well, but there are no gaps in between bars
  • Compound bar graphs – show discontinuous data but with the things stacked on top of each other
  • Line graphs – show continuous data – you can have compound line graphs as well
  • Population pyramids – show population
  • Flow line maps – Show the movement of people from one place to another with quantity
  • Isolines, Rose diagram, Located bar graph, Pictograph, Triangular graphs

b. interpret a variety of graphs, including those located on maps and topological diagrams

  • Topological diagrams – maps simplified to show certain data, often key features for example London’s Underground map
  • Choropleth maps – using shading to show certain values
  • Dispersion graphs – show a range of data
  • Scatter graphs – shows if there’s a relationship between two types of data (Positive correlation, upwards direction. Negative correlation, downsloping direction. No correlation, dots scattered everywhere)
  • Radar graph – Shows multiple axis on the same scale, looks like a kite or a spider web

Topic 4: Geographical Inquiry Skills

a. identify, analyse and evaluate geographical questions, hypothesis and issues

  • Hypothesis – testable statement
  • Issue – The individual, ‘personal’ story about the topic that needs to be captured

b. establish appropriate sequences of investigation and follow appropriate enquiry approaches

In order to test a hypothesis, you must

  1. Identify the size and numbers, gather your facts and hypotheses
  2. Investigate the deeper context
  3. Develop a method to solve or prove your hypothesis

c. extract and interpret information from sources

You must

  1. Say what you see – the overall impression
  2. Look for patterns, trends or groups in the information
  3. Look for anomalies in he data

d. describe, analyse and interpret evidence e. draw and justify conclusions from evidence

  • Evidence is just a suggestion, it does not prove anything
  • Not all sources are relatable – keep in mind to say if the source is primary or secondary

e. draw and justify conclusions from evidence

All conclusions are likely to be:

  • Partial – subject to bias because of limited evidence or poor evidence selection
  • Tentative – because of limited evidence

f. evaluate methods of data collection, presentation and analysis of evidence

evaluating requires a critical view of your strengths and flaws.

Topic 5: ICT skills

a. collect and annotate photographs and satellite images

  1. Identify what is happening
  2. What impact does this activity have
  3. How the impact of this activity may be reduced

b. use databases to find census and population data

Census – Official count or survey of a congregation

Topic 6: Geographical Information System

a. capture and represent geographical information in systems such as aegis

b. use web mapping sites, such as google earth and multimap



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