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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 plays a central role in managing our natural resources, civil engineering and managing natural hazards.

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. Numerous key skills such as critical thinking, report writing, scientific observation and recording, investigative problem solving and a wide range of geological skills are developed through practical work, written assignments and fieldwork. If you are interested in why British geology is so rich despite its size, how the Earth recovered from a time when it was almost entirely covered in ice, the evolution of life, how natural hazards happen and are managed then geology is the subject for you.

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. 

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 of associated hazards. Managing hazards when constructing roads, tunnels and dams.

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

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Winstanley College directly.

Last updated date: 24 October 2018
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years