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GCSE Toolkit: Is the Future Sussed? A study of sustainable urban living Take a closer look
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Key Stage 4

GCSE Toolkit: Is the Future Sussed? A study of sustainable urban living

John Widdowson

  • Series Editor: Ruth Totterdell and Justin Woolliscroft
  • Pages: 36
  • ISBN: 978-1-84377-261-3
  • Published: 2010

£20.99 £15.99 GA Members*

The concept of sustainability – a term much used, and abused, these days, is central to modern geography. This is much in evidence in the new GCSE specifications which refer to sustainable development in many different contexts. This book focuses on sustainable urban living, broadening the concept of sustainable development from the Key Stage 3 focus on individual lifestyles to the functioning of urban areas at a wider scale.

The book starts by asking students to consider examples of unsustainable urban lifestyles and produce their own definition of sustainable development. They assess the sustainability of a typical British town and apply this technique to their own place. They are introduced to the idea of an urban footprint and explore an example of more sustainable urban living.

Transport is an important aspect of urban living. Students map traffic data for a city using map layers to identify congestion hotspots and obtain local primary data through fieldwork. They study a variety of solutions to traffic problems and decide which would work best in their city.

Many sustainability claims are made for the 2012 Olympics. Students assess if and how the Games will help to make the Lower Lea Valley in east London more sustainable. At a wider level they examine government proposals for eco-towns in Britain. Finally, they bring together ideas from the previous lessons in a decision-making activity: planning a new eco-town or designing improvements to their place.

John Widdowson is a geography teacher and writer of geography textbooks. Currently he is developing urban fieldwork courses based on the Olympic site in East London.

View Sample Lesson
View Sample Information Sheet
View Sample Activity Sheet


Teaching about sustainable development
Living Geography and GCSE
GCSE examination skills
Medium term plan
Lesson plans

  • Lesson 1: Sustainable or unsustainable?
  • Lesson 2: How sustainable is my place?
  • Lesson 3: Why are cities always bigger than they look?
  • Lesson 4: Can we really live sustainably?
  • Lesson 5: Could cities eventually grind to a halt?
  • Lesson 6: What’s the best way to keep cities moving?
  • Lesson 7: Will the Olympics make the Lower Lea Valley more sustainable? Part 1
  • Lesson 8: Will the Olympics make the Lower Lea Valley more sustainable? Part 2
  • Lesson 9: Are eco-towns the future?
  • Lesson 10: What would be the perfect place to live?

Quick guide to lesson resources
Further teaching ideas
Sources and weblinks
Exam skills coverage

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1 Review

GA Member

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Fantastic little resource. enables collaborative and engaging learning and geographic concept and skill development

Also in this series


  • Primary Geography
  • Teaching Geography
  • Geography

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