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A-Level Geology at Winstanley College

Course description

The Earth is around 4.6 billion years old. Geology provides a record of Earth’s history; it’s past climate and life are preserved in the layers of rock like pages in a book. Without the study of Geology, we would not know that dinosaurs existed, that continents move or the importance of microorganisms in shaping our planet. Moreover, Geology also plays a central role in managing our resources, civil engineering and managing natural hazards. Geology is not an obvious subject choice for many but due to climate change and our ever dwindling natural resources it has never been more important.

Why study Geology at Winstanley College?

Locally, Winstanley is one of the few colleges that offers A Level Geology. Geology is an established science that is universally recognised by employers and universities. At Winstanley Geology will be linked to other subjects as much as possible; this will greatly aid learning and place Earth Sciences in the wider context of your education. Numerous skills such as maths, English, critical thinking, scientific observation and recording, investigative problem solving and a wide range of geological skills will also be developed. It is anticipated that the skills will boost your confidence, help with university applications and improve your employability prospects.

What do I need?

No prior knowledge is required; most of our students have not taken Geology at GSCE, but will have covered aspects of this subject in science or geography. Due to the wide base of skills and knowledge that comprises Geology, students taking other sciences, geography, history or maths A Levels may find the subject more rewarding. At least a C in maths GCSE is recommended.

What will I study?

The Geology A Level syllabus includes the study of:

  • Rocks and minerals to determine the conditions in which they formed.
  • The Earth and its structures, folds, faults and unconformities.
  • Past life and ecosystems: including preservation, dinosaurs, mass extinction events, biodiversity and general trends in evolution (such as the invasion of the land).
  • Climate change: evidence of past climate (e.g. snowball earth), driving mechanisms and the future.
  • Plate tectonics: the opening and closing of oceans, formation of mountain belts.
  • Earthquakes, volcanoes and mass movements: mechanisms, distribution and management.


100% exam with some practical assessment linked to fieldwork and skills.

Fieldwork and enrichment

The practical application of knowledge forms an important part of the course. Locally opportunities for fieldwork include the Pennines, Clitheroe, Ingleton, Heysham, Blencathra, Thurstaston and Otley-Chevin. Further afield, residential trips to Arran and Italy are very popular and rewarding. There are also visits to museums, revision conferences and occasional lectures by visiting speakers.

Geology as a career

There is a wide range of interesting career opportunities open to geology graduates such as disaster management, hydrogeology, geo-conservation, mining and civil engineering industries, geophysics, geochemistry, government supported scientific establishments, specialist geological consultants and research companies and teaching. Geology is a subject that will provide you with an exciting interest and skills for life, whatever career route you take! For more information about careers in Geology visit the Geological Society of London’s webpage (

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 21 September 2017
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years