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Geology A Level at Sir William Borlase's Grammar School

Course description

Geology is the study of the Earth. It is a popular course, with a significant proportion of students choosing to go on to study the subject at university each year. The geology department has a number of links with industry and BP usually offers a week-long work experience placement to a Borlase sixth former each year.

As a recognised science subject, both the AS and A2 Geology courses involve a mixture of practical and classroom work. The department owns a large collection of rocks, minerals and fossils which is used on a regular basis.


The Geology AS level is divided into three modules: Global Tectonics; Rock Processes and Classification; and Practical Geological Skills.

The Global Tectonics unit looks at the origin of the Earth and its place in the solar system; the Earth’s internal structure; the causes, consequences and measurement of earthquakes; continental drift, sea-floor spreading and plate tectonics; and geological structures produced by faulting and folding.

The Rock Processes and Classification unit considers the concept of the rock cycle, and then goes on to look at the formation, characteristics and identification of key igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

The Practical Geological Skills unit involves participating in a week-long field trip and successfully carrying out a range of geological skills. The skills could include producing a geological map of a small area. This would require the accurate measurement and plotting of data; the identification of the rock types and the geological structures that are present; and the writing of an account of the likely sequence of processes that could have produced such a pattern. Past field trips have visited locations such as the Isle of Arran in Scotland, the Camborne School of Mines and Somerset in south-west England.


The A2 course also contains three modules: Evolution of Life, Earth and Climate; Environmental Geology; and Advanced Practical Geological Skills.

The Evolution of Life, Earth and Climate unit looks at the identification of key fossil types; the evolution of fossil species over time; the evidence for and classification of dinosaurs; geological time and dating of rocks; mass extinction events; and geological evidence of palaeoclimates, including past climate change.

The Environmental Geology unit looks at the formation and distribution of energy and mineral resources; the role of geology in water supply; geological hazards such as landslides; and an introduction to the geology of engineering, including basic mining techniques and the use of rocks as raw materials.

The Advanced Practical Geological Skills unit involves participating in a second week-long field trip and successfully carrying out a range of more advanced geological skills. This may involve mapping an area of more complicated geology than that studied at AS level, the preparation of a sedimentary log, and the use of fossil evidence to date some of the rocks present and to comment upon the likely environment and palaeoclimate when particular rocks were formed.

Entry requirements

GCSE A grade at Mathematics.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Sir William Borlase's Grammar School directly.

Last updated date: 25 August 2016
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Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 1-2 years
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