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A Level Geology

Geology is the subject to study if you have ever marvelled at landscapes or wondered how natural substances such as minerals, rocks and fossils have formed. It is a practical and investigative earth science which includes a number of field trips. These will provide you with valuable skills and will complement other subjects, like Geography and Biology. It is also very suitable if you are concentrating on Humanities or Arts subjects but you would also like a science qualification.

Entry Requirements

A minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English Language and usually Mathematics, along with at least grade C in two sciences. Although you do not need a qualification in Geology to start the course, an interest in the natural environment would be helpful.

Course Content

OCR Course Specification

Year one – 3 units.

You will study 2 main topics – Global Tectonics (30% of AS marks) and the Rock Cycle (50% of AS marks).

In Global Tectonics, you will learn about the nature of the earth’s interior and investigate plate tectonics. You will discover how plate boundaries and movements are linked to the patterns of earthquakes and volcanic activity around the world. You will also examine a range of geological structures from diagrams, photos and fieldwork.

The Rock Cycle allows you to investigate the processes that form the 3 main groups of rocks – igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. The nature of volcanic eruptions and the resulting hazards will be studied. You will take part in fieldwork and practical exercises to help you to identify a range of rocks and minerals.

The third component is Practical Skills in Geology 1(20% of AS marks); this is effectively coursework and is made up of a practical/fieldwork and an evaluative task.

Year two – a further 3 units.

Environmental Geology covers 4 main topics of applied geology – water supply issues; energy resources such as oil, coal and gas; metallic mineral deposits e.g. their types and occurrence; and engineering geology eg problems caused by dam construction, tunnelling and road building.

Evolution of Life, Earth and Climate enables you to investigate a wide range of invertebrate fossils. You will discover how such organisms evolved and adapted to different environments. You will use fossil evidence to interpret how extinct creatures, including dinosaurs, lived and became preserved. The study of climate and sea level changes throughout geological time will make you appreciate analogies with present day concerns!

As in the first year, the third component is Practical Skills in Geology 2, with a further 2 practical and evaluative tasks to complete.

How will I be taught?

Classes will be based in well equipped laboratories. There will be five hours of teaching per week and it is expected that you will spend a similar amount of time in private study including homework, research and background reading. You will learn through a variety of activities, including lectures, practical investigations, group work, listening, answering questions, both verbal and written, discussions and presentations. You will take part in a three day residential trip to Devon as well as day trips. You will also be able to join an optional expedition to Iceland in the second year of your course.

How will I be assessed?


Will I need any extra equipment?

Essential books, equipment and geological specimens will be provided by the College.

What qualifications will I get?

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be awarded an A level in Geology.

What will it allow me to do in the future?

A good A level pass in a range of subjects will assist you to progress to higher education or appropriate employment. Geology is a science subject, so it can be used for a wide range of degree courses or you can seek employment in such activities as Mining and Exploration, oil and water companies, engineering, volcanology or hazard management, to name a few.

Course Information

Fieldwork and visits are an integral part of the course and may incur some charges.

Students, aged over 19 on the 1 September of the year the course commences will be required to pay tuition and assessment fees. If you are in receipt of an income based benefit please ask about financial assistance, which may be available.

Please contact Customer Services on 0800 056 0511 or email customerservices@southdowns.ac.uk for further information.

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