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Course aims

The study of rocks and earth processes, geology will complement other A levels if you are already studying science/earth sciences.

Entry requirements

You will require a grade B in science and grade 4 in maths, in addition to the general entry requirements.

Course content

Unit 1 - Global Tectonics

Topics include the planetary system, meteorites and the structure of the Earth, earthquakes and the forces which create them, plus the strategies developed to manage their impacts. Theories relating to continental drift and the Earth’s magnetic field are covered along with the geological structures created by the Earth’s movements such as folds and faults.

Unit 2 - Rocks

Topics include the rock cycle, igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and how these different types of rocks are formed. The characteristics of different minerals contained in these rock groups are identified and the tests which can be used to distinguish between them. Ancient sedimentary environments are investigated to include the conditions which were prevalent and the diagnostic characteristics which enable them to be identified today.

Unit 3 - Practical Skills

Students undertake practical laboratory work alongside the theoretical concepts outlined above for units 1 and 2. Topics include the testing of rocks and minerals, the simulation of earthquakes and investigating the impacts of meteorites.

Unit 4 - Environmental Geology

Topics include water supply and resources including aquifers and springs plus the concept of sustainable management of water, fossil fuel exploitation and problems relating to structures where these fossil fuels are found such as subsidence associated with coal mining. Metal mineral mining and the distribution of certain metals in the Earth’s crust, engineering geology, to include dam construction, road building, coastal protection, and nuclear waste disposal are also covered.

Unit 5 - Evolution of Life, Earth and Climate

Students study the formation of fossils, fossil evidence of evolution, groups of important fossils such as corals, trilobites, ammonites and dinosaurs. Methods of dating rocks and identifying evidence of mass extinctions are also investigated alongside the evidence we see today for climate change in the Earth’s past. Unit 6 - Practical Skills Students undertake practical laboratory work alongside the theoretical concepts outlined above for units 4 and 5. Topics include the investigation of water flow through different rocks, simulation of fossil preservation and the chemical testing of different metals in relation to groundwater.

Course assessment

Written examinations and practical assessments.


Recommended textbooks will be advised by your tutor. Use of the Internet and relevant websites will be part of the course. Some fieldwork will be undertaken which will involve a small transport cost.


Higher Education in science or earth sciences, teaching, working with environmental agencies, resource extraction companies and environmental management.


0800 783 6095