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A revision guide for GCSE Geography


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Title: A revision guide for GCSE Geography

  • A revision guide for GCSE Geography

To advance slide click here
Settlement the place where people live
Settlement is closely linked with population.
During this section you will see where people
live How the size and shape of a settlement can
vary How the site is chosen to build a
settlement And how they can be classified in
terms of size or function We will also look at
how settlements may change with time.
Often exam questions will combine elements of the
two together.
How to use this Settlement Revision Lesson
  • Click on the topic of your choice on the
    following slide
  • Read through the animated section to the end
  • Then choose either to return to the main menu and
    choose another topic, or exit and try a quiz.
  • Finally look at the example GCSE questions on
    Settlement and have a go at being an examiner!

Growth and decline of cities
Settlement site and situation
Click on the settlement topic of your choice
Settlement Hierarchy and Function
Settlement Land Use
Settlement Site and Situation
  • Key words and definitions
  • Settlement site The place a settlement is
  • Settlement situation The settlements location
    in relation to its surroundings
  • Rural Countryside
  • Urban Built up area

The location of settlements involves the study of
both site and situation of different settlement
There are two types of settlement- Rural (e.g. a
And Urban (e.g a
town or city). Rural settlements tend to be
smaller in size with a smaller population. Urban
settlements tend to have higher population

Historically settlement locations were chosen
because they offered either good access to raw
materials or were easy to defend.
Let us look at some of these typical settlement
There were those that were easier to defend A
dry point site (higher land in a marshy
area) Inside a river meander (could act like a
natural moat) A hilltop site (gave a good
viewpoint to spot possible attackers)

Then there were those sites that were positioned
to take advantage of passing trade.
A crossroads site
A ford or bridging point
A gap site. (This site might have also been
chosen so that the hills could provide shelter).
Another example of a settlement site is the
spring line settlement.
In limestone areas settlements were often located
on the spring line so they had easy access to a
water supply. Other settlements have grown up
around local supplies of raw materials such as
coal or iron ore.
Today settlements in this country are not
governed by these factors but new settlements
especially in LEDCs can still be found to follow
some of these patterns.
Original site factors can be grouped as follows
  • To be near a water supply
  • To be safe from areas that flood
  • To be a good place to defend
  • To be near materials they could use for building,
    food, or to make things
  • To have good access to other places
  • To have shelter from bad weather
  • To have a supply of fuel for cooking and warmth.

An ideal site would have all these things, but
very few do, so a compromise would have to be
Good defensive site good views and hard to
Good site for wood for fuel, weapons and building
Wet sites water River / Spring
Warmer south facing aspect
Stone and trees for building
Dry and safe from flooding
Good soil for farming
Good drier soils Good grass for animals
Bridging point
Crossroads meeting point
The following table looks at factors that
influence the location of settlements
These may be social, historic, economic or
Main factor Description
UK example
  • Although these site factors are less important
    today you can often still find evidence of what
    they might have been.
  • A common type of GCSE question on this topic is
    to use an OS map to look for likely features that
    may have lead to the development of a settlement
    at a certain site. The next page gives you some
    possible points you could look for

Bridging Point (valley narrows here)
Good water supply from river Eden
Valley sides to give shelter from weather
Good defensive site on mound with rivers on 2
Not built on flood plain (above 10m contour)
Meeting place of several routes
Sketch map to show how the site of Carlisle
related to both physical and human features in
the area.
Settlement patterns over an area
Settlement patterns are usually classified as
Buildings spread out common in sparsely
populated areas such as pastoral farming regions.
Here the buildings are clustered together around
a central point.
Or, linear
The buildings are arranged in a line. Often
following the line of a road or river along a
When describing a settlement you need to remember
these key points..
  • A settlement can be permanent or temporary
  • The site of the settlement would have been chosen
    by the settlers who would have been looking for
    one or more important features
  • The piece of land the settlement is built on is
    the settlement site
  • The situation of a settlement is its position in
    relation to the human and physical features
    around it.
  • Try to refer to the relief of the land, the
    vegetation and any important physical features
    eg. a river as these may give you clues as to
    what the original site factors might have been.

That completes this section on Settlement site
and situation
Click this box to return to the main menu to
choose another topic
Click here to try a short test on what you have
just learnt
Click here to exit the program. Then why not
have a look at the sample GCSE questions on
Settlement Hierarchy and Function
Here are some useful definitions
  • Sphere of influence The region that a
    settlement can attract people from
  • Function The type of services offered by a
  • High order Expensive and less frequently used
    goods and services
  • Low order Less expensive but more frequently
    used goods and services
  • Threshold population The number of people
    needed to support a particular function

Settlements can be ranked in order of their size
and number. This is called a settlement


These different settlements will differ in terms
of size population and function.
Listing these in order of size
  • Capital city
  • Major city
  • City
  • Town
  • Village
  • Hamlet

These settlements increase in size, population,
range of functions and sphere of influence
However they will decrease in number
  • Capital city
  • Major city
  • City
  • Town
  • Village
  • Hamlet

There are fewer cities than towns. There are
fewer towns than villages and so on.
Any urban region will have a city surrounded by
several smaller towns and many smaller villages
Settlement Function
  • The term function describes what a settlement
    originally did or still does. It can be the
    purpose that the settlement was built for, but
    also relates to any later development and refers
    to its main activity.
  • Look at the following diagram to see examples of

Religious centres
Centres of administration
Centres of administration
Residential or commuter towns
Tourist resort
Route centre
Commercial centres
Market towns
Higher up the hierarchy , the greater the range
and number of services they have to offer. See
the table below to illustrate this
  • Hamlets often have no services except a phone box
    or post box.
  • A village has a limited range of essential low
    order services
  • Large towns and cities have a wide range of high
    order services.
  • People usually have to travel further to use high
    order services.

Central Place Theory
The central Place theory sees settlements as
places to which people travel to buy something.
They travel to a central place from a market area
or sphere of influence. People will only travel a
short distance for low order goods that they uses
regularly e.g. bread and milk. So that sphere of
influence is small. However for high order goods
(comparison expensive goods like furniture,
clothes etc) they will travel further from a
larger sphere of influence.
Not all settlements will fit into these models
and patterns. However they are a good
generalisation and will hold for most countries.
However, as always there will be exceptions e.g.
there will be villages that are larger and offer
more services than some towns but their
population size would still suggest that they are
a village. As settlements do grow and develop
over time they may move up the hierarchy e.g. a
village becomes a town.
That completes this section on settlement
hierarchy and function
Click this box to return to the main menu to
choose another topic
Click here to try a short test on what you have
just learnt
Click here to exit the program. Then why not
have a look at the sample GCSE questions on
Growth and Decline of cities
Important terms
  • Urbanisation process of increasing proportion
    of the population becoming town or city dwellers
  • Deurbanisation The movement of people out of
    cities to rural areas
  • Reurbanisation Regrowth of cities often due to
    urban renewal
  • Greenbelt area around cities designed to stop
    urban sprawl

  • This is the increase in the proportion of people
    living in towns or cities compared to rural
  • As a country becomes more industrial people move
    to towns and cities to look for work.
  • MEDCs tend to have high levels of urbanisation.

Urbanisation is taking place on a global scale
  • 100 years ago only about 10 of the worlds
    population lived in urban areas. Today this has
    risen to about 47 and is still rising.

Millionaire cities
  • A millionaire city is one with a population of
    over one million people.
  • There are over 280 millionaire cities in the
    world, most of these are in LEDCs.
  • Some cities are mega-cities have over ten
    million inhabitants e.g. Mexico City, Tokyo

Causes of urbanisation
  • Large scale rural to urban migration often in
    search of a better life (however this is often
    not the case)
  • Population increase tends to be faster in urban

Problems of urbanisation
  • Spontaneous settlements (shanty towns) found in
    many LEDC cities. Badly built without basic
  • Overcrowding ? pressure on services, health care,
    water, waste disposal etc.
  • Some LEDCs are trying to solve these problems
    with self help schemes.

Other problems
  • Too much traffic
  • Unemployment
  • Pollution land, water and noise

Urbanisation can lead to Urban Sprawl
  • If a city is allowed to grow it takes up more and
    more of the surrounding area.
  • Green belts are put in place to stop this.
  • A conurbation is formed if a city grows so much
    it swallows up towns into one large urban area.

Deurbanisation (or counter urbanisation)
  • Caused when people decide to move back out from
    the urban to the rural environment because of
    these problems.

Deurbanisation is possible because
  • Growth and better transport and communications
    (dont have to live where you work)
  • Government policies encourage such a move
  • People with more money to own a second home

Counter urbanisation can have an effect on the
villages people move to
  • Cities can be regenerated to encourage people to
    move back.
  • Often encourage the renewal of brownfield sites
    (old derelict land).

Example of Regeneration - London Docklands
  • Regeneration of derelict land in London
  • Built new roads, the Dockland Light railway and
    London City airport
  • New offices e.g. Canary Wharf
  • Created many new jobs
  • Built new homes and shops
  • Planted over 100,000 trees.

That completes this section on the growth and
decline of cities
Click this box to return to the main menu to
choose another topic
Click here to try a short test on what you have
just learnt
Click here to exit the program. Then why not
have a look at the sample GCSE questions on
Settlement Land Use
Land Use is exactly what it says what land is
used for, like housing or factories. We tend to
use models to help explain the complex patterns
of land use in settlements.
Urban Land Use in MEDCs Burgess Model
concentric zone model
There are two main models of land use that apply
to MEDCs.
This is the best known land use model. Lets see
how it is built up..
Central zone oldest part, now contains main
shops, banks and offices. Called the central
Business District or CBD for short.
Industrial area grown up around the original
centre of the town (inner city zone)
So the oldest part of the city is the centre and
the newest parts are on the edge
Outer suburbs largest housing often detached.
Inner suburbs built as people move out from the
inner city larger houses often semi-detached.
Cheap housing built to provide homes for the
workers in the inner city factories. Often
terraced housing.
Urban Land Use in MEDCs - Hoyt Model sector
Similar to the Burgess models but with obvious
differences. Lets see why..
This expands the concentric zone model to take
into account industrial development along a main
routeway into and out of a city. The inner city
housing (yellow) will still surround this (red)
zone. The medium quality housing inner suburbs
(pink) will fill in the gap with the high quality
housing stretching across these zones.
It is important to remember that these models are
generalisations and real places are all
different. In recent years out- of-town shopping
centres have begun to change land use patterns.
New housing is now often built on brownfield
sites (cleared derelict land) instead of the
settlements edges.
Land use in the Central Business District
  • Competition for land makes land prices high in
    the CBD. The CBD contains the main retail and
    commercial premises, major public buildings and
    administrative headquarters. Shops selling high
    order goods and high rise buildings are here, but
    few people live here. As competition for land is
    highest here land prices are high. This leads to
    many high-rise buildings where each piece of land
    can be used several times.

Urban Land Use in LEDC cities
This looks similar to the MEDC models in shape.
However the positioning of the various zones is
very different.
Let us compare the LEDC and MEDC models
Industrial zone
Low quality housing
Improved housing
Highest quality housing
Note the highest quality housing in an MEDC is on
the outside of the city whereas it is next to the
CBD in an LEDC. The poorest housing in an LEDC is
on the outside (Often shanty towns), but is near
the centre in MEDCs
The Doughnut effect
The doughnut effect occurs when the commercial
activity of a city becomes concentrated around
the outskirts. Out-of-town shopping centres have
become more common, so shops in the CBD have had
problems attracting customers. Chain stores have
increasingly located in new shopping malls
leading to the high street stores closing
down. This leaves a hollow or empty area in the
middle of the city. This effect was first seen
in the USA but is becoming more common in British
Hollow centre
Movement of economic activity
That completes this section on Settlement Land Use
Click this box to return to the main menu to
choose another topic
Click here to try a short test on what you have
just learnt
Click here to exit the program. Then why not
have a look at the sample GCSE questions on
Thank you for using this revision tool to help
with your studies of Settlement.
I hope you have found it useful.
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