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A Level Geology

What does the course involve?
Geology is the study of the processes and history of the Earth as well as the life which has occupied it, the climate which has driven it, and the rock and other tools that we must use to understand this diverse past. Unlike the other sciences Geology offers the unique challenge of working with incredible timescales, sometimes spanning billions of years, as well as tackling spatial problems such as those posed by deducing the composition of Earth’s interior. Classroom learning is augmented by local field courses and there will also be an opportunity to take part in an overseas field trip. Past locations have included Iceland, Naples and Tenerife.
In your first year you will study aspects of plate tectonics and processes including volcanism and earthquakes. The bulk of the learning will be aimed towards understanding major rock groups, their constituents including fossils, and their formation.
In your second year you will explore these more thoroughly, looking at a range of environments and formations, the exploration of Earth for vital resources such as metallic minerals and water, and a synoptic module bringing your diverse learning together.

How will you learn?
You will learn a lot of scientific facts and apply them to the data supplied in both classroom and field situations, sometimes this will also involve mathematical models and equations. Geology is a practical and visual subject area with extensive use of maps, diagrams and photographs linked to field experience and familiarity with sample material. The specially developed text book will be supplemented by extensive additional material available on the school intranet.

What exams and coursework are involved?
The linear A Level course is assessed in three external papers:
Paper 1 – Fundamentals of Geology - 41% weighting – A mixture of taught units with a brief multiple choice section and the processing of unfamiliar field and laboratory data.
Paper 2 – Scientific literacy in Geology - 37% weighting – A mixture of taught units with an emphasis on longer answer questions where depth of understanding is crucial.
Paper 3 – Practical skills - 22% weighting (related to the practical endorsement – see below)
In addition there is also a non-exam assessment called ‘Practical endorsement’ assessed by the teacher as either pass or fail. This practical endorsement does not contribute to the final grade and is reported separately. Students who undertake the course will have sufficient opportunities to develop these skills to ensure a pass. Areas of focus for the practical endorsement include: field work (minimum 4 days in the field), use of equipment, investigating rocks and minerals, seismology, crystalline processes, fossils, geological sequences and fluid movements.

What are the entry requirements?
Preferable to have grade 6 in GSCE Science, but not essential. Grade 6 in Maths or Grade 5 in Maths if a student studies Core Maths at A-Level.

What could you do after completing the course?
The constant search for new resources now extends far beyond fossil fuels and precious metals. Universities offer a wide range of Geology courses with opportunities to specialise in Geophysics, Oceanography, Mining Technology, Environmental Geology, Palaeontology, Pollution Control and Hydrography. Opportunities for employment are wide ranging with the water and construction industries offering jobs in both field and laboratory based research, whilst oil and mining companies continue to be major players.

 

 


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