Synoptic Links in Geography Revision

The aims and learning outcomes of the AQA GCSE Geography course focus heavily on students thinking, studying and applying like a geographer. This includes students making links and applying their knowledge to a range of real-world contexts.

The Assessment Objectives in geography clearly reflect these aims and learning outcomes. AO2, for example, involves students demonstrating an understanding of the interrelationships between places, environments and processes. Also, AO3 covers the application of knowledge and understanding to make judgements. Combined, these two assessment objectives account for up to 70% of the assessment weightings in the AQA GCSE Geography course.

Therefore, it is critically important, not just in creating good geographers, but also in raising achievement that students develop the ability to make synoptic links in geography. Some students will have an innate ability to think like a geographer and make connections in the world we live in. However, others will need support in developing their ability to do this.

The document below encourages students to connect their learning to the wider world. The example covers the synoptic links that exist between The Living World unit and the other main units in the AQA GCSE Geography specification. This could be used once the Living World unit has been completed, using the additional guidance on the second page to support, along with a textbook. Alternatively, it could be used once all the major units have been completed as a summary revision activity.

Synoptic Links Revision Activity

Synoptic Links Revision Activity

The students draw lines representing synoptic links between The Living World and other units. An example of this is shown below. Students should be encouraged to further develop links that address multiple units.

Synoptic Links Revision Activity Support

Synoptic Links Revision Activity Support

There are synoptic links support resources available for students to access on Internet Geography.

Download the A3 Living World Synoptic Links revision document

Investigating links in geography using KnowledgeBase Builder

Geographers see connections in the world, how things interact and inter-relate. Making links in geography involves examining relationships within and across themes. An understanding of these links supports students in seeing how the world is interconnected.

One strategy to encourage students to investigate links could involve the use of concept maps. However, before your students attempt their own concept maps it would be useful to live model links with them. Enter KnowledgeBase Builder.




Available for Windows, Android, IOS and Mac OS, KnowledgeBase Builder is a remarkably easy tool to map out curriculum content then investigate links. In the example below, we have produced a simple map the characteristics of the tropical rainforest (for demonstration purposes, there’s lots more that could be added). The characteristics are grouped under headings including vegetation and climate etc. This could be achieved by students contributing key features based on prior learning.

Characteristics of tropical rainforests

Characteristics of tropical rainforests

Next, it’s time to investigate links between the different characteristics. Simply drag a connection between two elements, give it a simple title and an explanation of how the two are connected. Below is an example of a link between buttress roots and emergents.

Making a link

Making a link

Once an explanation has been added in the description box, simply click the link to display the explanation as shown below.

View the link

View the link

You can view your map in a range of ways including as a table which shows the main characteristics as shown below.

Information presented as a table

Information presented as a table

You can also view the map in 3D. Which looks pretty fancy! It is possible to save the 3D graphic as an animated gif.




There are several options for exporting your finished diagram. Below is an example of an exported image.

The information can also be exported as an HTML file (web page).

Other features included in the software to explore include:

  • adding images
  • reverse links where flows/links go in both directions
  • adding hyperlinks
  • embedding Wikipedia pages

In this example we have explored links within a theme, however, we can just as easily develop a map over time and explore synoptic links in geography.