Geographic Themes

Leisure, tourism and sport

This optional theme focuses on ways in which people in a growing number of global contexts make use of their leisure time. As more people join the “global middle class”, they have disposable incomes allowing participation in tourism, including international travel and different types of sport. Sport can also be an important use of leisure time for people on low incomes who cannot afford to participate in tourism.

While tourism often has an urban focus, rural areas provide another important geographical setting for touristic activities, including walking, enjoying wilderness, doing extreme sports or visiting heritage sites. The uses made of places vary greatly, depending on physical geography, history and level of economic development.

Through study of this optional theme, students will gain understanding of more specialized concepts including consumption (of landscapes), carrying capacity and threshold (in relation to environmental stress) and sustainability (in relation to long-term management of touristic resources).

The geography of food and health

This optional theme looks at the geography of food and health. Economic development is often accompanied by dietary change and an epidemiological transition in which diseases of poverty become less common and diseases of affluence more common; however, this transition does not apply equally to all sectors of society.

Neither food nor health is easy to “measure”, so alternative indicators of food and health are considered. There are many interactions between, and shared influences on, food and health. The role of gender, TNCs and national governments in both food and health provision is considered. This topic considers alternative ways of assessing agricultural sustainability alongside possibilities for improving food supplies and global health over the long term.

Through study of this optional theme, students will gain understanding of more specialized concepts including some, such as diffusion and barriers, which are applicable to both food production systems and the spread of diseases. Sustainability is considered in relation to long-term food production.

Urban Environments

More than 50% of the world’s population now lives in urban environments, with many living in megacities. This optional theme considers the hierarchy of cities and other urban places as sites of intense social interaction and as focal points of production, wealth generation and consumption. They exhibit diversity in patterns of wealth and deprivation, which can result in conflict. They may share common characteristics and processes irrespective of the national level of economic development.

Transport improvements have led to rapid growth and shifts in population and economic activities, producing stresses and challenges for urban planners. The theme also considers issues of sustainability, wherein cities need to be managed to minimize harmful social and environmental impacts.

Through study of this optional theme, students will gain understanding of more specialized concepts including hierarchies (of settlements), systems (in relation to movements of people and the management of transport and waste flows) and sustainability.

The study of these options will  lead to the understanding of the key geographic concepts of processes, places, power and geographical possibilities.

Source: IBO Geography Syllabus Guide