Geology (Earth Science) (A Level)

Why should I study A Level Geology (Earth Science)?

This course allows students with an interest in The Earth to find out more about how the planet was formed and how it works by studying the minerals, rocks and past environments.  Students who are fascinated by earthquakes, volcanoes, resources and fossils will especially find this course appealing. Geology is a subject that can be helpful to any student and can usefully be studied in combination with Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Mathematics, Statistics and Physics.

Fieldwork is an essential part of any geologist’s experience and four days fieldwork are required to be completed by the exam board. There is a UK-based residential trip offered at the end of the first year which covers a number of fieldwork requirements and provides important opportunities to practice skills that are examined by the Practical Skills paper. 

We have very good links with many universities, including Liverpool, Leeds, Leicester, Southampton, Portsmouth and Plymouth. We have speakers come into college and ex-students working as professional geologists in fields such as the oil industry, mineral exploration and engineering to talk about careers and higher education progression. Many Geology students with a strong interest in the subject and a desire to continue it to university pursue a related Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). For their EPQ’s students have been in contact with leading palaeontologists such as Jack Horner (part of the inspiration for Jurassic Park) getting ideas and information to help their research.


The first year of the course consists of the following topics:

    The Formation of the Solar System and the Structure of the Earth – this includes the techniques geologists can use to infer what is inside the planet. 

    Earthquakes - how we use them to study the Earth’s interior, how we can understand them and use seismographs to locate earthquakes, how they can teach us about plate movements and the creation of mountain ranges.

    Minerals - how to recognise them in rocks and in thin sections under the microscope. 

    Formation of the Main Rock Groups: Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic

    Plate Tectonics and Structural Geology 

    Residential trip to Cornwall.


Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.

The second year of the course consists of a further three modules: 

Petrology and Economic Geology will investigate the three rock groups and formation in greater depth.

Geohazards has a large focus on the study of earthquakes, how we can predict them using theories such as the seismic gap theory as well as how we can safely try to plan for them by adapting our infrastructure.

 Basin Analysis involves work from all of the units and focuses upon case studies of areas and the issues which can arise and includes a major study of evolution and palaeontology.


There are three written examination papers taken at the end of the second year and a separate practical endorsement.


Students will need a scientific calculator.

Minimum Entry Criteria 

Standard College entry requirements (as detailed on page 12 of the Prospectus) and a minimum of:

Grade 4

GCSE English Language or English Literature



Grade 5

GCSE Mathematics



Grade 5

Both 1st and 2nd grades in GCSE Combined Science


if triple Science is taken

Grade 5

Two of either GCSE Biology, Chemistry or Physics

Please note that GCSE Applied Science or Level 2 BTEC qualifications are not acceptable as alternative GCSE science qualifications for A Level Geology.

Core Mathematics (Mathematical Studies) is a very useful complementary course for this subject and is strongly recommended as a further (4th) subject choice for students who are not taking A Level Mathematics or A Level Statistics options.  See the Core Mathematics subject page for further details (page 92 of the Prospectus).


Geology can lead to a variety of careers, for example; the energy industries; oil and gas exploration, working in mineral exploration and engineering/geotechnics. Other careers include palaeontology, geophysical research, hydrology, construction, surveying, conservation, environmental management, teaching and geological research.

Many universities offer courses in Geology and related subjects. Geology is a science A Level and is accepted for many scientific degrees, including medical related courses and geography courses.