Geology will be a new subject to you, but you will have come across some Geology in your GCSE Science and Geography courses.
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 Geology could well be the perfect A-level for you.
Geology is a Science subject and can be studied with the other sciences e.g. Biology, Chemistry and Physics and with Geography. Many arts-based students also study Geology as a Science subject in order to maintain a balanced curriculum. In recent years Sheffield Girls' students have successfully combined Geology with most other subjects on offer.
What are the entry requirements?
No previous knowledge of Geology is expected or required. The most important matter is that you are interested in finding out how our planet works and that you enjoy going out into the field to investigate Geology.
How is the course structured?
At A-level the topics covered in the first year include :
Minerals – their physical and chemical properties, how they are identified and their uses to mankind.
Rocks – a study of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks and their uses.
Fossils – the ancient life forms that are found in the rocks and what they tell us about previous climates, environments and evolution.
Composition of the Earth – how evidence of its layered structure can be obtained by studying earthquakes and meteorites.
Plate Tectonics – a study of the features associated with plate margins e.g. mountain chains, volcanoes, earthquakes – how and why these features were formed and how they shape the Earth.
Hazards – the prediction, control and reduction of the impact of geological hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, waste disposal and radon gas.
Geological Time – how geological time is measured and how geological events are placed in their correct sequence.
Structural Geology – the structures which are formed within rocks, e.g. folds, faults
Mapwork – the interpretation of geological maps and the drawing of cross-sections.
In the second year, rocks, fossils, plate tectonics, structural geology and mapwork are covered in greater depth and we also cover aspects of Economic Geology (e.g. coal, oil, gas, precious metals etc) and the geology of the Quaternary Period (Britain in the Ice Age).
What are the main teaching and learning styles?
Lessons use a variety of learning techniques. Practical work throughout the course complements classroom theory teaching which then allows students to apply their understanding in the field. Students visit local sites in the Peak District and there are 2 residential trips, to the Yorkshire Dales in Year 12 and to the Pembrokeshire Coast in Year 13. There will also be the opportunity to go to Iceland in February 2019
How is the course assessed?
Paper 1: A 2 hour practical paper including specimens, photographs and maps.
Paper 2: A 2 hour data response paper made up of short answer questions.
Paper 3: A 2 hour paper with short answer structured questions on geohazards,quaternary geology and a geological map.
After completing the course…… what next?
Many students choose to take Geology or Earth Science courses at University and there is currently a global shortage of trained geologists to work for mining and oil companies across the globe. A-level Geology also provides a Science qualification for students wishing to pursue a variety of other courses or career paths.
Mr James Speed
Head of Geology
Mr Speed teaches Geology at A-Level. He also runs the Y7/8 and Junior School Geology Clubs, and leads school trips to the Peak District, Pembrokeshire and Iceland.