Royal Geographical Society - Geography resources for teachers (2022)

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'A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment.' (Wikipedia 2009).

Just stop for a moment and listen. Shut your eyes and open your ears. What can you hear? I expect if you are reading this in the department office or classroom there is a cacophony of different sounds and noises. I also expect the majority are produced by people, their activities or the machines that they are using; some quiet, some loud; some pleasant, some offensive; some noises that appear and then disappear.

Sound is normally a component of the environment that we take for granted, yet all the time the sound world is changing. Although we have a well used geographical language to describe the visual appearance of environments, we are often less confident when describing the landscapes of sound. And yet sounds are an important tool that can be used to investigate a deeper representation of place. This piece explores some of the ways in which people, landscapes and processes can be investigated through the fieldwork medium of sound and noise.

For starters - The importance of sound

Soundscapes can be urban, rural, natural or human centred. Although we may take noise and sounds for granted, they in fact often underpin the characteristics of particular landscapes. Without these associated noises the landscape would somehow be incomplete. So these collective voices which make up the landscape are as important as the visual markers which help us to identify place.

There is an excellent audio map of the world available from the BBC World Service website.

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Here users can explore this snapshot of the world in sound and there is some fascinating diversity. The website could be used to introduce a basic classification of sounds based on their origins (get the students to work in small groups). This classification is important in the context of fieldwork as it can be used to help quantify a soundscape, for example what proportions of sounds are biophony, geophony and anthrophony.

  • Biophony. Related to ecology/ecosystems: Sound of trees moving in wind, sound of birds, sounds from animals etc

  • Geophony. Related to physical environment: Running water, crashing waves, sound of wind, rain/precipitation etc

  • Anthrophony. Related to people and their activities: Cars/planes/trains, farm and other machinery, wind round buildings, footsteps, breathing, talking, music, phones etc

Application in geographical fieldwork

Recording of the soundscape can be used with a range of other fieldwork approaches as a way to help describe the more qualitative or aesthetic representation of places. It may be particularly valuable when making comparisons between places, for example beach resort versus rural coastal strip, or town versus urban fringe versus rural versus remote rural. Soundscapes may also help to reveal how places change over time, for example day versus evening versus night or high and low season, summer, winter, spring etc. This can be particularly useful when exploring the local school grounds or a small park.

A big advantage with this type of sound fieldwork is that it requires limited equipment or expertise. All that is needed is a willingness to observe, participate and engage; although you and the students will have to be prepared to try new techniques and approaches. Most important, however is the ability to actively listen, rather than to just passively hear. You will have to support students in their ability to unpack and synthesise the auditory complexities of both natural and built environments. And remember that soundscape recording can be about recording the nature of the sound(s) itself, or perhaps more importantly an interpretation of the geography of the sound.

So first of all it becomes important to record the key characteristics of sounds - in a kind of sound taxonomy.

Below are some pick and mix ideas for fieldwork. They start very straightforwardly and gradually become slightly more involved and requiring more skills/equipment/set up. In this respect they could be differentiated according to age, ability or experience.

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Example one: Very easy - Making a qualitative personal sound map

How to make a sound CD:

  1. Find a comfortable spot to sit outdoors. Try to pick a location with an uninterrupted 360˚ sound vista

  2. Mark an X in the centre of the paper which contains a circle about the same size as a CD. This shows your relative location on the map

  3. Close your eyes and listen for at least one minute. Listen for sounds from animals, birds, people, machinery and other human activities

  4. Keep listening, but now draw pictures or symbols on the map representing all the sounds you hear, and where they are coming from. It is also possible to reflect the relative distances of the sounds by using the periphery of the page as a scale. Sounds that seem close should be near the X, whereas distant sounds should be represented on the outside of the page

The basic qualitative approach can be made more objective through the introduction of quantitative data, for example by using a compass to record sound direction and or a semi-quantitative sound scale. Alternatively, a sound meter can be used to record the volume of particular noises.

This idea can be further developed so that sounds are classified into different groups according to the information above.

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Example two: Easy - Making a sound journal

A Sound journal is an informal record of conscious listening experiences that are strongly connected with place. Simple notes can be taken in the form of a journal or diary record. These can then be formalised and added to photos for instance, to help to describe the atmosphere of places.

Linked to this idea can be the creation of oral histories which can help describe people and places. Oral histories can capture aspects of life which are informal and unwritten and which would otherwise disappear without trace. Students just need to find someone with an interesting story to tell, who is willing to be interviewed by them and to allow the interview to be recorded. Often relatives are happy to do this. These again can be used in part to help add atmosphere to a place and its human history.

Example three: Basic intermediate - An acoustic information survey

This approach is more numerically based, and sounds are classified according to type and duration (i.e. how many seconds). It is then possible to work out the proportions of different types of sounds (Table one) that are representative for that area. More details can be found on the Cardiff University Auditory Archaeology website from which an Excel spreasheet (XLS) can be downloaded for data collection - although this is rather more sophisticated.

Example four: Intermediate - A sound transect or sound walk

This example uses the concept of a sound transect or sound walk using mp3 audio mapping. The idea is based on a systematic or regular survey technique whereby sounds and noises are recorded. The fieldwork can be developed to create a systematic (regular) sound map using photos and video recordings to create a more complex sound map. This would work best with a larger team of people who are able to cover a greater number of systematic/regular points in a survey area.

Example five: Harder intermediate - A sound portrait

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Sound portraits can be used to create and audio two or three minute sound representations and descriptions of places and communities. Noises and sounds can be recorded using a mobile phone and then ‘mixed' on a computer (use Audacityto give an acoustic image).

There is more information on the idea of sound portraits available on the NPR website. This approach is a good way of piecing together the three different types of sounds that were discussed at the beginning of the article.

Sounds fieldwork - what to look out for

Whilst there may be equipment worries and uncertainties of approach, another thing to bear in mind when undertaking sounds fieldwork is the potential difficulty of presenting and analysing the data. Remember, the idea of soundscapes is to give ‘deeper' additional information about place so that this work is intended to compliment other data that has already been collected in an area. Soundscapes are inevitably more personal interpretations so comparisons between different areas can be difficult unless the same person or groups are making the judgements. The techniques described here at the very least can be used to supplement visual information from photos and sketches, as well as field notes and sketches. It is also easy to share mp3 files electronically, for example via a school or group intranet. It is also possible for students to make their own digital sound maps, for example by using Google maps.

References and further reading

Author of this article David Holmes is a Principal Examiner for both GCSE and A-level Geography. He also teaches part time at Queens College, Taunton.


(Video) Chalk Talks | Map Skills | National 5


What is the best resource to learn geography? ›

Here are my 5 best resources for teaching geography skills:
  • Google Maps.
  • Ordnance Survey.
  • GeogSpace.
  • Google Lit Trips.
  • Map your memories.
21 Sept 2015

What role did the Royal Geographical Society play in exploration? ›

It has been a key associate and supporter of many notable explorers and expeditions, including those of Darwin, Livingstone, Stanley, Scott, Shackleton, Hunt and Hillary. The early history of the Society is inter-linked with the history of British Geography, exploration and discovery.

How do you become a member of the Royal Geographical Society? ›

How to apply
  1. Online: complete the quick and easy application form for instant access to exclusive membership opportunities.
  2. By email: download and complete the application form, and send via email to

How do you become a Chartered Geographer? ›

Chartered Geographer
  1. an Honours degree in geography, a B. Ed with geography or a related degree (or 15 years teaching experience if no relevant degree is held);
  2. at least six years teaching experience, and.
  3. demonstrable commitment to CPD, embedding it in your practice, and supporting others.

How can I learn geography easily? ›

To learn geography, start by studying maps of the country, continent, or region you want to learn about. You can also use apps and software to help you memorize geographical information. Next, print out blank maps of the area and try to fill them out without referencing your study materials to test your memory.

Which website is best for geography? ›

Useful Websites
  • United States Geological Survey (USGS) ...
  • National Council for Geographic Education.
  • GeoNames. ...
  • Center for International Earth Science Information Network (Columbia University's Earth Institute)
  • Population Environment Research Network.
  • NOAA Satellite and Information Service.
  • National Climatic Data Center.
8 Aug 2022

What is the meaning of RGS? ›

Restless genital syndrome, also known as persistent genital arousal disorder, a spontaneous, persistent, and uncontrollable genital arousal in women, unrelated to any feelings of sexual desire.

When was the famous Royal Geographical Society established? ›

The history of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) can be traced back to 1830. The Geographical Society of London was founded in 1830 as an institution to promote the advancement of geographical science.

What is the Royal Geographic society? ›

The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the Learned Society representing Geography and geographers. It was founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical science and has been among the most active of the learned societies ever since.

What is FRGS qualification? ›

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Qualification, Education, Geodesy.

Does the Royal Geographical Society still exist? ›

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) We are the UK's learned society and professional body for geography, supporting geography and geographers across the world.

How much does a geographer make? ›

Ans. At the start of a career, a geographer earns around 4 lakh per year. After gaining experience and expertise, a geographer salary can go upto as much as 12 lakhs per annum.

Who was the president of the Royal Geographical Society? ›

​President: Nigel Clifford

These include Ordnance Survey, Procserve Holdings, MicroFocus Ltd, Symbian Software Ltd, Tertio Ltd and Glasgow Royal Infirmary University NHS Trust. In addition, he has served as an independent non-executive board director for two publicly listed UK companies, Alliance Pharma and Anite.

What is a Geographist? ›

Noun. geographist (plural geographists) One versed in geography; geographer.

What is the fastest way to memorize geography? ›

Chunking is another effective way for memorizing geographical information. You probably already use chunking strategies and don't even know it. It's relatively easy for your brain to memorize a phone number (916-422-7667) or social security number (529-88-3324) using chunking.

How do you become good at geography? ›

A final note on learning geography
  1. Start with a master overview of planet Earth.
  2. Begin local and then work your way outwards.
  3. Follow your curiosity.
  4. Use world events and news headlines to guide your study.
  5. As much as possible, use maps and images to visualize.
  6. Use flashcards to drill yourself on the facts.

How can I learn geography answers? ›


How do you learn geography maps? ›

how to study maps the best geography study techniques - YouTube

What does RGS stand for electrical? ›

RGS Conduit Abbreviation. 2. RGS. Rigid Galvanized Steel. Engineering, Construction, General Construction.

How do you shorten regards? ›

KR is an abbreviation for "Kind regards." Rgds, I assume, is shorthand for "Regards." Do those closes come across as professional to you?

Which Indian got first Royal Geographical Society gold medal? ›


Nain Singh Rawat was one of the first Indians to got the Royal Geographical Society Gold Medal.

What does RGS IBG stand for? ›

Acronym. Definition. RGS-IBG. Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers (London, UK)

What is meant by critical geography? ›

Critical geography is based upon the principle that questions about spatial relations, which refer to how an object located within a particular space relates to another object, are important because political behaviour is embedded in socio-political structures based on ideas about space.

What is pays in regional geography? ›

In geography: Geography's early research agenda in Europe. … regions, or what he called pays—relatively small homogeneous areas—whose distinctive genres de vie (“modes of life”) resulted from the interactions of people with their physical milieux.

Is the geographers Guild real? ›

The Geographers' Guild in London is a fictional society from the Paddington films. The explorer Montgomery Clyde was a member.

What is social geography basically related to? ›

Social geography is the branch of human geography that is interested in the relationships between society and space, and is most closely related to social theory in general and sociology in particular, dealing with the relation of social phenomena and its spatial components.

What does FRGS mean after a name? ›

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Which of the following is the correct sequence regarding the development of geography? ›

Detailed Solution. The correct sequence is Anaximander, Herodotus, Eratosthenes, Hipparchus.

What is the synonym of geographical? ›

In this page you can discover 20 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for geographical, like: geographic, of the earth, terrestrial, earthly, concerning the earth, topographic, geographically, topographical, magnetic, taxonomic and demographic.

What skills do geographers need? ›

Geographers should also possess the following specific qualities:
  • Analytical skills. Geographers commonly analyze information and spatial data from a variety of sources, such as maps, photographs, and censuses. ...
  • Communication skills. ...
  • Computer skills. ...
  • Critical-thinking skills. ...
  • Writing skills.

What is the highest paying job in geography? ›

1. Landscape Architects. The geography-related job with the highest median salary is landscape architect. Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor built environments.

What are the 5 types of geography? ›

The five themes of geography are location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region. These themes were developed in 1984 by the National Council for Geographic Education and the Association of American Geographers to organize and facilitate the instruction of geography in K-12.

Who is the most famous geographer? ›

Eratosthenes. The first spot has to go to the man who coined the term geography, Eratosthenes (c. 275–194 BC). He created one of the earliest maps of the known world between 276-195 BC, but his greatest contribution was the concept of latitude and longitude.

Where can I learn geography? ›

Best Geography Websites and Podcasts
  • 80 Days, An Exploration Podcast. Why we love the podcast. ...
  • Atlas Obscura. Why we love Atlas Obscura. ...
  • Directions Magazine. Why we love Directions Magazine. ...
  • Political Geography Now. ...
  • World Atlas. ...
  • Arctic Adventures: All About Iceland. ...
  • Isn't That Spatial Podcast. ...
  • GeoLounge.
16 Mar 2018

How do you learn geography maps? ›

how to study maps the best geography study techniques - YouTube

What website does geo facts use? ›

Trivia. The website that he uses for dragging countries and showing their true size is

Is geography easy or hard? ›

No, geography is so simple to study. In geography, we studied day to day activities happen on the earth, those are interlinked to each other in practically as well as theoretically.

What are the 5 types of geography? ›

The five themes of geography are location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region. These themes were developed in 1984 by the National Council for Geographic Education and the Association of American Geographers to organize and facilitate the instruction of geography in K-12.

What are the best tips for studying? ›

Studying 101: Study Smarter Not Harder
  • Reading is not studying. Simply reading and re-reading texts or notes is not actively engaging in the material. ...
  • Understand the Study Cycle. ...
  • Spacing out is good. ...
  • It's good to be intense. ...
  • Silence isn't golden. ...
  • Problems are your friend. ...
  • Reconsider multitasking. ...
  • Switch up your setting.

What's a world atlas? ›

An atlas is a book or collection of maps. 6 - 12+ Astronomy, Earth Science, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Geography, Human Geography, Physical Geography, Social Studies, World History.

How do you do a state in Battle Royale? ›

United States Battle Royal! - YouTube

Is there an online atlas? ›

The Digital Atlas Project is a freely-available online atlas for students and teachers from around the globe, searching for up-to-date world and regional maps, data, and visualizations for teaching and learning geography.

What is the best method of teaching geography? ›

Among all the methods of teaching geography, Project method is the most important which is frequently applicable to teaching-learning process. It is a method which stands against the traditional method of teaching where the theoretical knowledge from the book is accepted 01 received by the students.

What makes a good geography teacher? ›

Good geography teachers set high expectation of their students - for their geographical knowledge and understanding, the quality of their work and their behaviour. In every activity your students engage in, you should define your expectations and share these with the students.

What grade do kids learn geography? ›

Depending on the education laws in your state, a typical course of study for 7th grade social studies will include geography, Earth's features, the various economic and political systems around the world, and global cultures.


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