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Geology A Level at Holy Cross Sixth Form College

Course description

Geology is the study of the Earth: Its structure? How it has evolved? What drives important processes such as plate tectonics and the climate system? Geology also investigates how these factors affect society. How can structures be engineered to withstand geodynamic hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis? Can we use monitoring to predict when volcanoes erupt? Where do vital resources such as water, oil, metals and minerals come from? How can we mitigate the impact of sudden climate change? All this and more will be covered in the WJEC (Welsh Board) Geology A Level.

Course content

We will follow the WJEC course. In the first year (AS) you will study three units.

Unit 1, Foundation Geology, includes topics in:

Earth structure and plate tectonics; the rock cycle; igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks; geological time, including fossils and piecing together the geological past.

Unit 2, Investigative Skills:

This unit takes the concepts and skills learnt in Unit 1, and applies them to problem solving activities in the field and laboratory, including the practical examination of rocks, minerals and fossils as well as geological maps.

Unit 3, Geology and the Human Environment, looks at:

Natural hazards (volcanoes, earthquakes and mass-movements), their prediction and control; human hazards (waste disposal, water supplies, and mining); and geological engineering (e.g. dams, tunnels and buildings).

In the second year (A2) you will also study three units:

Unit 4, Interpreting the Geological Record, which includes topics in:

Igneous and metamorphic rock formation, and sedimentary environments; rock dynamics; the fossil record, evolution and mass extinctions, palaeoclimatology and advanced geological mapping.

Unit 5, you will pick two of the following topics:

Quaternary Geology, The Lithosphere, Natural Resources, The Geologic Evolution of Britain.

Unit 6, Geological Investigations:

You will use the skills that you have gained in previous units to undertake an in-depth project based on fieldwork and laboratory research. This will involve several individual days of fieldwork in the north of England, together with a residential field course at some point in the second year – these are compulsory as they are an integral part of the course.

Entry requirements

General college entry requirements. You do not have to have studied Geology or Geography at GCSE to take Geology. Entry requirements are slightly lower than those for pure Science subjects. Grade C in Core Science GCSE and grade C in Additional Science GCSE are required.

Future opportunities

A Level Geology is recognised by universities as a science subject, and opens doors to many career opportunities, both at home and abroad. The transferrable skills gained are much valued by universities, with successful A Level Geology students welcomed onto degrees in both the sciences and humanities. At some universities, as many as 40% of the Geology undergraduates have come in with Geology A Level. It is also an excellent companion subject for degrees in Geography (especially Physical Geography), the Environmental Sciences and Civil Engineering. Geology graduates have fantastic earning potential, and can go into a number of exciting careers, such as the mineral and oil exploration industries (with great opportunities to travel), geotechnical, civil and environmental engineering, environmental science, meteorology, and hazard forecasting. We live in a consumer society and the demand for resources for all of the gadgetry that surrounds us in our everyday lives has never been higher and it is very often geologists, finding and extracting these resources, who are at the start of this consumer 'food chain'.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Holy Cross Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 09 October 2015

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