Geography - NCEA level 1

Sustainable tourism in the marine environments of Southeast Asia - Section 1

Two Asian coastal tourist destinations: Thailand and Malaysia.


This geography unit challenges students to develop understandings of how people use marine environments for tourism through exploring contexts in Asia and New Zealand. The unit uses a social inquiry approach. 

In this unit, students will develop the understanding to:

  • make sense of a complex and changing world, and their place in it 
  • build on and expand their personal experiences of natural and cultural environments
  • explore real and relevant contemporary contexts.

Students will be expected to think spatially by:

  • exploring the ways in which features are arranged on the earth’s surface
  • looking at the processes that shape our world 
  • developing an awareness of the connections between people and places
  • participating in informed, responsible action in relation to geographic issues that affect them.

This unit is future-focused and, after completion, students will be able to recognise the responsibilities they have in relation to other people, the environment, and the long-term sustainability of the planet. The unit encourages students to think critically as they explore the various perspectives of different groups of people. 

The unit is designed to be adaptable. It may be taught in its entirety or used within existing programmes.

Curriculum links

Level 6 achievement objective 

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to: 

Students will:

  • describe how and why tourists and locals use the marine environments of two Asian regions: Thailand and Malaysia
  • identify the positive and/or negative consequences of the use on people and places
  • explain how the ways in which people interact with environments affects the sustainability of environments 
  • explain how environments can be used sustainably with continual use.


Future focus is the main principle, where students look to the future by exploring such significant future-focused issues as sustainability. Citizenship could also be a focus as students think about how their actions, and the actions of others, impact on society.


During the course of this unit, opportunities exist to encourage the values of excellence, diversity and ecological sustainability. Pursuit of excellence is promoted through a range of activities that extend and challenge students in research and analysis. There are also opportunities for students to explore their own values as well as the values of others.

Key competencies


During the course of this unit, students are encouraged to engage in creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to develop conceptual understandings of the impact of tourism activities on the sustainability of the environment. A range of thinking activities is included, and opportunities exist for students to reflect on the knowledge they are constructing, and the methods by which they are doing so. Intellectual curiosity is encouraged through students engaging in discussions that encourage in-depth thinking. 

Using language, symbols, and texts

Students use a variety of resources to gain knowledge of tourism and sustainability. The use of ICT to access information is encouraged. Students are encouraged to present research findings in a range of formats such as a written report, PowerPoint, story boards, annotated diagram/map/pictures or video.

Managing self

Students are encouraged to have a can-do attitude while completing a number of self-directed inquiry tasks. Opportunities exist for self-assessment and reflection on the completion of inquiry tasks, and on learning. 

Relating to others

The activities in this unit have a strong focus on constructing shared knowledge and understandings, with multiple opportunities for group work and class discussions. This encourages students to listen actively, recognise different points of view, negotiate, and share ideas. 

Participating and contributing

This unit offers opportunities for students to contribute appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group. There are shared learning experiences in this unit, which encourage participating and contributing as a member of the group.

Conceptual understandings 

The Geography Teaching and Learning Guide: Key concepts (TKI website) outlines the key concepts that a geography student develops throughout a senior geography programme. This unit is focusing on all the concepts but, in particular:

  • processes: including erosion, tourism and globalisation
  • environments: for example, the marine environment of Thailand and Malaysia have particular characteristics and features that are the result of coastal and tourism processes. These coastal environments have some similar and different characteristics.

Overview of pedagogy

This unit follows a social inquiry process underpinned by the Best Evidence Synthesis: Effective Pedagogy in Social Sciences - Tikanga ā Iwi (Education Counts website)

The four mechanisms of effective pedagogy in social sciences are integral to the teaching and learning of this unit:

  • Connection – Make connections to students’ lives. 
A study of tourism in a New Zealand setting that students are familiar with will enable students to make connections with Asia.
  • Alignment – Align experiences to important outcomes.  
In this unit, a student has a number of different activities from mapping to research to develop understanding of the concepts of environment and sustainability. 
  • Community – Build and sustain a learning community. 
Teachers and students collaborate to establish a learning environment where students can share ideas and make decisions about their own learning.
  • Interest – Design experiences that interest students. 
The teacher uses real-life experiences that students can relate to, which gives them a better understanding of an issue. 

Social inquiry approach

This unit uses a social inquiry approach, where students:

  • ask questions, gather information and background ideas, and examine relevant, current issues of sustainable tourism in the marine environments of Southeast Asia – Thailand and Malaysia
  • explore and analyse people’s values and perspectives
  • consider the ways in which people make decisions and participate in social action
  • reflect on and evaluate the understandings they have developed and the responses that may be required.

A social inquiry approach can lead students to develop deeper conceptual understandings of the level 6 achievement objectives. 


This unit could be assessed by geography level 1 internal achievement standard AS91009.

Suggested unit length

The teacher should allocate time according to the knowledge and needs of their students, but is estimated at about 20-25 lessons.