A-Level coursework is one of the most interesting and stressful parts of an A-Level course: you finally get to have control over what you research and write about…but where do you start? An NEA or Independent Investigation is completely your own research report. Besides all the formatting questions, the first challenge you have to overcome is figuring out what question to research. Where do you begin? How do you filter out all your ideas into just one question?
Don’t worry if you don’t have an idea for your NEA straight away – I definitely didn’t! This article is here to give you some inspiration for the subject for your A-Level Geography NEA.
What is an A-Level Geography NEA?
A-Level Geography NEA is the coursework part of Geography A-Level. It’s a compulsory part of the A-Level, meaning that it’s graded against a set of assessment objectives, like your exams. For your NEA coursework, you choose your own question based on either physical or human geography.
Physical geography NEA ideas could relate to the coast, glaciers, or other areas of the environment. Typically, NEA questions will relate to a topic you’ve studied as part of the exam portion of your A-Level, but they don’t have to be.
Human geography NEA ideas could relate to urban areas, migration, or globalisation and other human development areas. Most of the time, they’ll be focused on your local area, but it doesn’t have to be if you feel like you’d be too restricted!
What does an A-Level Geography NEA look like?
The exam boards, and your school, allow you to compile your research findings however you like. You can include graphs, charts, photos, in any colour or order you want.
However, there will probably be some rough guidelines, as an NEA is expected to be formatted like a typical research paper. Graphs, charts, and photos should be labelled, and you should use a sensible font and letter size.
The Royal Geographical Society has a student guide to completing an NEA, linked here.
How long is an A-Level Geography NEA?
Generally, there is no official cap on the word count for an NEA report, but most exam boards and schools suggest 3000-4000 words. 2000 words is generally thought to be too little, and anything above 6,000 words is considered too much.
The reason for an official cap on an NEA word count is that everyone’s research is unique, and you’ll have different things to say than other people, which may take more or less words.
My A-Level Geography NEA was 5,000 words, so even though it was a little over the recommended word limit, it was still allowed. When writing your NEA, try and keep your sentences clear and concise.
How much of A-Level Geography is an NEA worth?
For the four UK exam boards, an A-Level Geography NEA is worth 20% of your A-Level. This may not seem like a lot relative to the amount of work you’ll put into an NEA, but it’s worth more than you might think. It essentially replaces one exam.
It’s also worth it for the experience, as many of the formatting and writing techniques you pick up during an NEA can be taken into higher education.
This Think Student article has a list of the most respected A-Level subjects, of which A-Level Geography is a part!
What makes a good A-Level Geography NEA idea?
An NEA is a very individual experience, and what makes an idea “good” is also quite personal. It’s a good idea to pick a question based on something you’re actually interested in, because your enthusiasm will show through your work and boost your investigation that much more.
“Good” NEA ideas are usually the ones that allow you to use several different data sets. This means you aren’t just collecting one type of data, and you have to use different data presentations and a wide range of analysis.
Similarly, your NEA idea should be broad enough to explore a few different ideas, but also be focused in one particular area, e.g. coastal management. NEA ideas are usually either a topic from physical geography or human geography, but it can sometimes be a mix of both.
A-Level Geography NEA ideas
Below is a list of ideas for your A-Level Geography NEA, split into physical and human geography. These are just ideas to get you thinking about what you want to write about – your NEA title needs to be formatted as a question.
|Physical Geography||Human Geography|
|Investigating the impact of climate change on coastal erosion||Analysing the impact of globalisation on the distribution of resources and wealth|
|Examining how coastal management affects the rate of coastal erosion||Investigating the impact of renewable energy sources on local economies and employment|
|Investigating the impact of water scarcity on local communities and ecosystems||Examining how different tourism strategies affect urbanisation|
|Examining the impact of land use change on coastal defences||Analysing the impact of climate change on global migration patterns|
|Assessing the impact of sea level rise on rural and urban coastal areas||How do different transport systems affect connectivity in urban fringes|
|Analysing the impacts of deforestation on soil erosion and water quality in your local area||Investigating the impact of city tourism on local economies|
|Investigating the causes and consequences of water scarcity in a local area||The social and economic impacts of natural resource extraction on indigenous communities|
|Assessing the effectiveness of flood management strategies in a local catchment||Analysing the impact of tourism on cultural heritage sites and local traditions|
|How does climate change affect food security in developed and developing countries||Examining the social and economic impacts of mining on a local community|
|Investigating the impact of invasive species on local ecosystems and biodiversity||Investigating the causes and consequences of urban sprawl in a local area|
|Examining the social and economic consequences of coastal erosion||Analysing the impact of climate change on global migration patterns|
|Assessing waste management policies and practices in reducing pollution effectively||Examining the impact of population growth on the availability of resources and urbanization|
|Comparing the effectiveness of different methods of water conservation||Analysing the impacts of a new transport infrastructure on local area connectivity|
|Investigating the impact of deforestation on local ecosystems and biodiversity||Assessing the economic impacts of sea-level rise on coastal communities|
|Examining the effectiveness of conservation management practices in a local nature reserve||Investigating the impacts of a new industrial park on local air quality vs the economy|
|Investigating the effects of urbanization on local soil quality and fertility||Examining the social and economic impacts of a new shopping centre on a local area|
|Assessing disaster management policies in reducing the impact of natural disasters||Assessing the effectiveness of waste management strategies in a local area|
|Investigating the impacts of a dam construction project on a local river ecosystem||Analysing the effects of air pollution on human health in a local urban area|
|Analysing the impacts of a new road infrastructure on local biodiversity||Investigating the extent to which different economic sectors influence the local economy|
|Assessing the effectiveness of forest management policies in reducing deforestation||Analysing the impact of air pollution on public health in your local town and your local city|
|Examining the impacts of industrial pollution on local air and water quality||How does political instability affect migration trends in developed countries|
|Assessing the effectiveness of sustainable agriculture practices in increasing food security||Investigating the impact of environmental degradation on conflict and security|
|Investigating the impacts of agricultural intensification on soil quality and fertility||Examining the role of resources in triggering local and national conflicts|
|Analysing the effects of land-use change on the biodiversity of a local ecosystem.||Assessing the effectiveness of renewable energy policies in a local area|
|Examining the impact of renewable energy sources on reducing carbon emissions||Investigating the impacts of a new power station on a local community and environment|
|Investigating the impact of land use change on water quality and availability||Analysing the impact of climate change on the spread of infectious diseases|
|Assessing the impacts of agricultural runoff on local water quality||Examining the social and economic impacts of a new housing development on a local area|
|Analysing the causes and impacts of desertification in a particular region.||Investigating the proportion of ethnic enclaves in commuter towns vs major cities|
|Investigating the impacts of climate change on a local river system||Analysing the effects of climate change on a local agricultural and industrial sector|
|Assessing the effectiveness of conservation policies and practices in protecting biodiversity||Analysing the impact of climate change on global economic growth|
|Examining the impacts of invasive species on a local ecosystem||Examining the effects of rapid urbanisation on local wildlife habitats|
|Analysing the effects of urbanization on local biodiversity||Assessing the consequences of industrialisation on rural and/or local communities|
|Assessing the role of green energy technologies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions||Investigating the impact of globalization on local cultures and traditions|
|Investigating the relationship between land use change and water quality in a local catchment||Analysing the social and economic effects of tourism on a rural community|
|Measuring the effectiveness of carbon offset programs in reducing greenhouse gas emissions||Examining the impacts of a new waste management facility on local air quality|
|Analysing the impact of climate change on crop yields and food security||Measuring local and national challenges to indigenous communities|
|Assessing the effectiveness of conservation efforts in preserving endangered habitats||How does the global shift affect global migration patterns|
|Analysing the impact of climate change on global water resources||Analysing the effects of climate change on a local forestry sector|
I hope these ideas have given you inspiration. Good luck writing your NEA!