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Geology A-level at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College

Course description

Newsworthy items such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions intrigue us, often because the magnitude of these events still seems unstoppable, even in the face of technological advancement. The study of Geology could be your opportunity to discover what has made the earth tick over the last 4,600 million years. The first year of AS study covers basic Geology topics of minerals, rocks and fossils along with plate tectonics and earth structure. This knowledge is tested through problem solving mapwork and identification of specimens in a practical examination. Applied Geology examines hazardous environments created by natural Geological phenomena as well as man-made and engineering activities. There is no coursework requirement in the first year.

A2 study develops the basic Geological knowledge and extends a choice of themes in more detail. Students are expected to attend a residential fieldwork course in the French Alps which provides practice in skills for the A2 coursework assessment. No prior study of Geology is necessary for this course but an interest in the outdoors and the environment is important if students wish to enjoy the potential benefits of this course.

Course content

The AS year covers three modules:

Foundation Geology
The study of minerals, rocks, fossils and earth structure

Practical Geology
understanding geological maps

Geology and the Environment
Looking at how man copes with natural and man-made hazards.

The A2 modules cover:

Further Geology
In-depth study of aspects of basic geology such as the demise of the dinosaurs

Investigative coursework
Marks awarded for design, implementation, analysis and evaluation of geological problems

Options in:

  • The Lithosphere – the earth’s crust
  • Glacial studies and Quaternary Geology
How it is taught

The AS course has no coursework element and the geological skills are acquired through some outdoor fieldwork on the coast and in the nearby countryside. Students also do practical work in the classroom, examining mineral, rock and fossil specimens. Students develop the ability to solve geological problems by interpreting specimens, photographs, maps with graphical, numerical and written data.

In the second year of study a whole module is devoted to coursework investigations. Some of these are based on fieldwork. Students spend a week on a residential course (in Chamonix this year). Other investigations involve laboratory based experimental work.

Entry requirements

The usual entry requirement to QE is 5 GCSE grades at C or above including Maths or English. A good number of students study four AS Levels in their first year and to do this we require at least 3B grades and 3C grades at GCSE including Maths and English Language. Students who do not achieve these GCSE grades take fewer subjects at A Level and will be required to do resits in GCSE Maths and English if they have not already achieved a grade C in these core subjects. The College is large enough to have a very flexible timetable that allows students to take almost any combination of subjects at A Level. The advantage of this system is that we can tailor your programme to suit your needs and abilities. We give lots of advice if you decide to apply to the College.

Subject Specific

Students are expected to have a GCSE grade C in Science and a grade C in either GCSE Maths or English. No prior study of Geology is necessary. Hardly any students have any prior experience in studying Geology.


GL1 (AS) - Foundation Geology - 1 hour - 1st Year

GL2 (AS) - Practical Geology - 1½ hours - 1st Year

GL3 (AS) - Geology and the Environment - 1¼ hours -1st Year

GL4 (A2) - Further Geology - 2 hours - 2nd Year

GL5 (A2) - Quaternary & Lithosphere - 2 hours - 2nd Year

GL6 (A2) - Investigative Coursework - Ongoing - 2nd Year March

Future opportunities

Geosciences is available as a degree level subject in about 50 universities where both BSc and four year MSc courses exist. New university courses are more applied and cover areas such as Environmental Geology, Petroleum Geology or Geophysics. Every year, nearly half our A level Geology students move on to Geology or related degree courses. Some choose to support engineering courses with their knowledge of Geology. Physical Geography and Geology as a joint degree is becoming popular. Some students have found Geology useful in Archaeology degrees.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 17 April 2015
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