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Geology

Staffing

Mrs S Swindlehurst

Department Overview

Geology is the study of planet Earth and Cumbria is an ideal place to do it. We have superb examples all around us of all the main types of earth materials – igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks – and a wide range of minerals and fossils. The landscape is the result of geological processes and provides us with an excellent outdoor laboratory in which to study them, from the high Pennine slopes via the Eden Valley to the magnificent scenery of the Lake District, where huge ancient volcanoes have been carved by rivers and glaciers into the hills and dales we see today. By studying present environments such as the work of rivers or the action of the sea on the west coast we can build up a picture of the evidence we need to look for in ancient rocks, clues that can be used to understand how they were originally formed. This then tells a story of how our piece of continental crust is the result of a journey from the depths of the ocean, through tropical seas at the equator, hot dry deserts as we drifted north until we arrive at our present latitude, where repeated Ice Ages have so influenced the shape of modern Britain.

The fascinating history of our planet is just one part of studying geology. We also look at how important the subject has been, and still is, in ensuring human progress. Geologists are involved in finding the raw material without which we cannot survive. This includes water from underground formations, energy supplies that we will still need for the foreseeable future – oil, coal and gas, metals and chemicals for our industries, and building materials of every kind. Geological surveys and accurate mapping are essential for constructions of all types – towers, bridges, tunnels, roads – and for major excavations which may be used for waste disposal.

Vitally important work is involved with natural hazards. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides kill thousands of people and do enormous damage all around the world. Geological investigation is needed to predict, prevent if possible, and certainly to improve protection of the population.

At Queen Elizabeth Grammar School we have a well-equipped geology laboratory and a long history of geology teaching that has enabled students to become professionals in the subject or simply to learn more about the world around them, wherever they may go.

A-Level

A-Level Geology

Why study Geology?

Geology can be considered as a leisure interest subject. It helps us to appreciate and understand our natural environment, both locally and further afield. Cumbria is a particularly good place in which to study geology with its varied landscape, a wide range of formations and its long history of mining. Many students develop a keen interest in collecting minerals and fossils, which they continue after leaving school. Career opportunities are also extremely wide ranging.

What do I need to know or be able to do before taking this course?

There is no charge for the local fieldwork that is a compulsory part of the course, other than basic travel costs. Any equipment needed is supplied by the department but students may wish to buy their own hand lenses and field note-books. There may be opportunities for optional visits that are further afield for which there would be additional costs.

Features of the course:

Geology involves the scientific study of the earth. We examine in detail the materials that occur at the surface, the minerals and the various types of rocks and deposits. We look at how these materials are produced, changed and recycled, and how the processes involved change the landscape. There are in-depth studies of “big” topics - earthquakes, mountain-building, volcanic activity, ocean and continent formation - and we learn how these are related to huge changes in the earth’s interior.

Emphasis is placed on applied geology. All nations depend upon a supply of essential resources: energy resources like coal, oil and gas; metals such as iron, copper, lead and zinc; construction materials such as limestone, sand and gravel, clay and roadstones; and an adequate supply of fresh water. Geologists are involved in finding and developing these vital materials. A consequence of human consumption of raw material is inevitably waste disposal - again needing geological expertise.

Fieldwork is an essential part of the course and in the summer/autumn terms, four days of local field trips (Lake District, Eden Valley and Pennines) are arranged. In addition, there are afternoon excursions, which can be used to complete coursework requirements, and occasional visits to local extractive industries such as the mine at British Gypsum.

Key information:

Topics for Study:

Component 1: Geological investigations (35%)

Component 2: Geological principles and processes (30%)

Component 3: Geological applications (35%)

Practical Endorsement: Assessment of practical competencies reported separately

Assessment summary

Component 1: 2 hour 15 minutes examination

Component 2: 1 hour 45 minutes examination

Component 3: 2 hour examination

Practical Endorsement: Non-examined assessment

Entry requirements

Grade 6 in GCSE Maths or B in any GCSE Science

Exam Board

WJEC

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