Geology will be a new subject to most students. If you are interested in the origins of the Earth, how it was formed and what has happened to the landscape and inhabitants of our planet through geological time, then it may be for you. Geology is central to locating the resources that maintain our society and is implicit in contemporary issues from global warming through to the exploitation of these resources.
A Level Geology follows the new WJEC/Eduqas specification and builds upon topics covered at GCSE in Geography and Science. The specifications are designed to provide an opportunity to study a range of issues of geological significance and are delivered through theory and practical modules.
In the first year of the course – Fundamentals of Geology – allows students to develop their knowledge and understanding of earth science and acquire new skills.
Topics covered include :
Minerals, Rocks, Fossils, Composition of the Earth, Plate Tectonics, Geological Time, Structural Geology, Mapwork and GeoHazards – natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides along with man-made hazards involved in quarrying, mining, waste disposal and civil engineering projects.
Interpreting the Geological Record enables students to further develop their skills and understanding of earth science and includes topics : Rock forming processes; Rock deformation; Past life and Past climates; Earth materials and Natural resources and Geological Themes – Geological map applications (use of colour BGS maps); and one optional theme (likely to be Geological Evolution of Britain) giving further depth on plate tectonics and the development of the key rock types in the UK.
Embedded within all the modules are “specified practical” activities which will give students an extra grading on their certificate for practical competency.
Fieldwork is an essential component of the course. A level Geologists MUST complete a minimum of 4 days in the field. Fieldwork is assessed through various practical investigations in the field.
There is currently a 2-day residential fieldtrip to North Yorkshire (Y12 June) and a 3-day residential field trip to Anglesey (Y13 March).
Day trips to local exposures (e.g. Derbyshire & Boston Castle) are also included.
Residential trips are to be confirmed. In 2020 the 3-day residential to Anglesey cost £165 and the 2-day residential to North Yorkshire cost £85.
Day trips cost no more than £10 per day trip.
All geological equipment is supplied by the department but students are expected to have suitable outdoor gear. Students will be advised on the nature of this in due course but it does not need to be expensive.
External A level examinations are held in June and comprise of :
Three written examination papers (2¼ hours (Practical paper), 1¾ hours (Theory), 2 hours (Theory) stimulus response questions requiring short and structured answers, a wide variety of data (hand specimens, photographs, a black and white and a colour geological map) and some extended answers.
GCSE Science (2 x Grade 4). Grade 5 Maths.
Geology is complemented by other Science courses as well as Geography and Maths. There are also links with Computing, IT and practical-based subjects. However, many Arts based students also study Geology as a new subject in order to maintain a balanced curriculum. Indeed, in recent years students have successfully combined Geology with most other subjects on offer.
Geological careers can be varied and there are many opportunities to travel. Geologists find work in natural resource exploration, nuclear and landfill waste disposal, water conservation and management, the energy supply sector and as Engineering Geologists, Seismic Interpreters and Environmental Consultants as well as teaching and lecturing or further postgraduate study abroad and in the UK. Demand for geologists and geoscientists is strong and growing, and recent news articles have shown that Geology is the most lucrative STEM course (with a new graduate able to earn up to £70,000 for their first job). Earth Science and related Engineering (civil, geotechnical, petroleum, environmental) have twice as many university places as the life sciences courses, and the government’s job shortage list is full of Geology based careers in most sectors (engineering, natural resources, energy and the environment).
Check out our Culture Vulture link to see what takes your interest.
Click the link and have a go at our 10-week learning plan to get you off to the best start.
Follow the link to see an introduction to the course, identifying what you will study with us in the first few months and what you might already know.