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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.
The specifications have not yet been approved so at this stage there is some uncertainty but many of the core areas of geology will not change and there are early drafts available.In your first year it is likely that you will study aspects of plate tectonics and the associated processes including volcanism and earthquakes. The bulk of the learning will be aimed towards understanding major rock groups, their constituents, and the processes that form them. In your second year you will be able to explore these more thoroughly looking at a range of environments and the particular formations they create. There are a number of optional modules in the second year, ranging from quaternary geology – the study of recent human evolution and the climatic changes which led to ice ages – through to planetary geology and ‘Critical Resources’ – concerned with exploration of Earth for vital resources such as metallic minerals and water.

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, all providing a wide range of easily interpreted igneous rocks that are difficult to find in the UK.

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 require using mathematical models and equations to help. 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. A specially developed text book will be available for this course. The text book will be supplemented by extensive additional material available on the school intranet.

What exams and coursework are involved?
This will be subject to the finalised specifications but will likely follow the model of the other sciences including a practical or field endorsement.

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. Students may have studied Geography at GCSE level but a sound performance in all GCSE science subjects (grade 5 or above) would be equally useful.

What could you do after completing the course?
We firmly believe that Geologists hold the key to the future of both mankind and the planet on which we live. The constant search for new resources now extends far beyond fossil fuels and precious metals –indeed, the most precious of all resources in the future is likely to be fresh water. Universities offer a wide range of Geology courses with opportunities to specialise in Geophysics, Oceanography, Mining Technology, Environmental Geology, Pollution Control and Hydrogeology. Competition for these places is keen but you will be applying with a qualification in Geology at A level that will give you a significant advantage over those applying from other scientific backgrounds. Opportunities for employment are wide ranging with the water and construction industries offering jobs in both field and laboratory based research whilst the oil and mining companies continue to be major players.



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