Overview: Course

The specification for Junior Cycle Geography focuses on developing students’ knowledge and skills to explore and understand the world around us, our role within it and recognise the interconnections amongst systems. This is achieved through the three interconnected strands: Exploring the physical world; Exploring how we interact with the physical world; and Exploring people, place, and change, with one overarching concept entitled Geoliteracy. It has been designed for a minimum of 200 hours timetabled student engagement across the three years of junior cycle.



The specification is informed by the concept of Geoliteracy. This refers to students’ ability to develop far-reaching decisions through geographical thinking and reasoning. Geoliteracy provides the framework for understanding in geography and is threaded throughout learning and teaching of geography.

The core components of Geoliteracy are the three I’s: 

  • interactions
  • interconnections
  • implications. 

Interactions refers to how systems, both human and natural, interact. Interconnections refers to the linkage between people, places, environments, and spatial patterns, either by tangible links such as roads or intangible links such as politics. Implications refers to the individual’s ability to reason the consequences of their decision making and that of others. The concept facilitates students’ understanding of geographical topics in an integrated manner demonstrating the interrelationship between topics and the impact they have on the student.  Geoliteracy aims to develop cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal competencies through the curriculum that are sustainable throughout students’ lives.

Three Interconnected Strands

The specification sets out three interconnected strands. The learning outcomes are numbered within each strand. The numbering is intended to support teacher planning in the first instance and does not imply any hierarchy of importance across the outcomes themselves. The specification emphasises a non-linear, integrated approach across strands. Combining learning outcomes across strands to develop learning experiences is encouraged.

Strand 1: Exploring The Physical World  

This strand focuses on facilitating students’ exploration of how the physical world is formed and changed. Students develop knowledge and skills to understand and explain the physical world. Students engage and interact with topics relating to physical geography and explore their interrelationships and any implications those topics might have on students’ lives. They apply their knowledge and skills to explain spatial characteristics and the formation of phenomena in the physical world.

Strand 2: Exploring How We Interact With The Physical World  

This strand focuses on facilitating students’ understanding of how people interact with the physical world and the implications this might have for their lives. Students explore how we depend on, adapt, and change the physical world. Students apply their knowledge and skills to explain how we interact with our physical world for economic purposes, as well as how we adapt to physical phenomena.

Strand 3: Exploring People, Place and Change  

This strand focuses on students exploring people, place, and change. Students engage with topics related to globalisation, development, population and interdependence. Students interact with topics while exploring interrelationships and the implications those topics might have for their lives. They apply their knowledge and skills to explain settlement patterns, urbanisation, demographics, and human development.

The Elements

These elements inform how students will experience the learning outcomes within the strands. Students will approach the learning outcomes through the lens of the elements.

Processes, Patterns, Systems and Scale

Students learn about how geographical processes form and shape our physical, environmental, and social world.

Students identify patterns and distribution of geographical phenomena and draw conclusions based on their findings. This includes recognising, analysing and explaining similarities or differences in phenomena.

Students adopt a systems-thinking approach to understand complex components.

Students study topics at a variety of scales and levels including Ireland, Europe (EU) and global level.

Geographical skills







Field investigations are encouraged where appropriate.




Reading and interpretation skills:
Students will develop their graphicacy through:

  • Mapping: Cartographic skills relating to a variety of scales 
  • Visuals: Reading and interpreting a variety of relevant visual stimuli
  • Data analysis: Reading and interpreting a variety of data sets.

Applied skills:

  • Asking geographical questions: Engaging with the key geographical questions of who, what, where, when, how and why 
  • Investigating geographical data: Gathering data from diverse sources in various ways to develop information that will inform responses
  • Organising and interpreting geographical data: Different types of data may be separated and classified in visual, graphic forms: paper and computer-generated maps, or various geospatial images
  • Analysing geographical information: Geographic information involves seeking patterns, relationships, and connections
  • Presenting geographical information: Managing and assembling data so that it is clear and concise.
  • Students consider the balance between economic, environmental and social systems necessary for meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future.  
  • Students recognise how their decisions and actions impact on local and global sustainability.
  • Students critically reflect on current concepts and practices in relation to sustainability.
  • Students develop knowledge, skills, behaviours, and values to live sustainably.