Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Describing Places

A good description of a 'place' helps to explain what makes it so different from other 'places' and can give a good guide as to where it is located. A description can be divided into two parts: the Physical features and the Human features.

Physical features are those things that occur naturally, such as mountains, rivers, soil, wildlife, climate etc..

Human features are those that involve people, such as roads, houses, farm land, jobs or occupations and industry. Note that much of the countryside of Britain has been changed by people, ever since the Romans began cutting down the forests to farm the land about 2,000 years ago.

When describing places, such as in the image below, it is not enough to simply say 'there are houses'. Appropriate vocabulary should be used to give an indication of how many houses there are, what the houses are built of, and whether many people live there, or just a few.

Click on image to see description examples

Some of this 'appropriate' vocabulary can be summarised as follows:

Physical Features Human Features
Feature Meaning Feature Meaning
Relief Shape of the land e.g. mountainous, flat, steep, sloping Settlement and population The most common settlement sizes are (from small to large): hamlet, village, town, city
Landforms e.g. mountain, valley, cliff, beach, bay, plain, river meander Houses Their density, building material, and if they are detached, semi-detached or terraced
Drainage e.g. rivers , streams or ditches Land Use e.g. urban or rural, residential or industrial, farm land or forest
Soil e.g. fertile or infertile Occupations How people make their living
Climate e.g. warm, wet, tropical, polar Transport and communication Roads, railways, port

Click on the image above to see a few of things that you could include in your description!

An example of a partly completed computer marked test (Describing Places 1) is shown in the image below.

Go to test