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Curriculum Intent:
To instil a sense of wonder about ‘how the Earth works’: its structure, evolution and dynamics, and its mineral and energy resources and to introduce a branch of science which is a national and international shortage area, so that students can aim for careers or further study in this internationally high demand area.

KS5 Overview

Geology is a practical, broad based and multi-disciplinary subject suiting pupils who are interested in the World around them. Practical tasks are undertaken on field trips and in the classroom/laboratory. Geology impacts on our everyday lives due to natural events, and as consumers of the Earth’s dwindling resources.

Practical work is an intrinsic part of the course, and here at Torquay Girls’ Grammar School the Geology department is well stocked with hundreds of high-quality teaching specimens including the minerals, rocks and fossils found in the specification along with many others that contribute to the quality and depth of learning, enriching the subject. Students also have access to work one-to-one with Petrographic Microscopes (allowing them to study rocks in thin-section) and Binocular Microscopes to allow them to study minerals, micro-fossils and sediments in detail.

Geology is a compatible A level with other sciences and is also a useful ‘bridge’ for a humanities-based pupil wishing to retain some element of science. Fieldwork is an essential part of the course and pupils must undertake a minimum of four days fieldwork carried out in the region as well as further afield. The subject often appeals to pupils with an interest in the outdoors. There is no NEA project involved for coursework, only a short fieldwork-based exercise.

Fieldwork is an important component of the course, and students are given several opportunities in which they can develop and practice the practical skills that are so important in all science subjects.

In addition, they are be able to use equipment that is normally used at university, such as petrographic microscopes, as well as the opportunity for workshops and extra-curricular talks from academics and professionals who will be able to share with students some of the latest research in the subject.

Fieldwork at a number of localities, to provide students with the widest experience possible.

Trips will include visits to South WalesPortishead and the North Somerset coast, as well as field trips from across the local area, giving them the best opportunity to study the geological evolution of Britain. There are additional trips offered which students can take advantage of and the opportunity to develop the programme, with suggestions from students particularly welcomed in the department.

Entrance requirement:
Separate Science GCSE students: Grade 6 or above in at least two sciences.
Double Award Science GCSE students: Grade 6 or above in GCSE Combined Science*,

Students will also need to have at least a Grade 5 in Mathematics.

For more information please click to download the Curriculum Document.

Building on KS4 and preparing for KS5…

Students wishing to study A level will need to have an interest in science and applying science to real world problems.

The course builds on the course offered at GCSE, however if students have been unable to study the subject at GCSE, a broad background in the academic sciences will allow students to develop their understanding of science in an applied context. If students enjoy sciences, Geology uniquely allows them to pursue their interest across all the STEM components -

There is a real need for Geologists - Geology looks at some of the most important issues in society today including energy sources and sustainability, climate change, the impacts of developments on the environment, water management, mineral resources and natural hazards. This is indicated by the presence of Geology related jobs on the Government Shortage Occupation List:

Government Shortage Occupation List – August 2023

Occupation code

Job types included on the shortage occupations list

Areas of the UK where there is a shortage


Physical scientists:
engineering geologist

England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland


Physical scientists –the following jobs in the oil and gas industry:
technical services manager in the decommissioning and waste areas of the nuclear industry
senior resource geologist and staff geologist in the mining sector
Mining Engineers

England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland


Civil engineers – all jobs

England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

In research carried out by the Times newspaper, the following was found to be true:

“...Geologists at Imperial College London have emerged as the top-earners in a league table of graduate salaries published today alongside the Sunday Times Good Universities Guide. Their average wage of £73,267 six months after leaving university surpasses that of medics and engineers.”

The Sunday Times
25 September 2016



Former TGGS student, Olivia Hogg is an MSci graduate of the University of Bristol and a Geochemistry PhD at the University of Cambridge.  She is also heavily involved in Women In Mining (WIM) UK and a Student Chapter Organiser for Women In Mining (WIM) UK.  Olivia says...

 “…From a future resources perspective, earth science plays such a fundamental role in understanding our oceans, our atmosphere and the processes leading to ore formation - which are all going to be key industries that the next generation need to feed into!”

Where will an A level in Geology take you?
There is currently a world-wide shortage of well-qualified Geology graduates and employment opportunities in mining, engineering, geophysics, geotechnics, exploration, petroleum and environmental geology are widespread, offering considerable opportunity for world travel. Geology is a subject highly regarded by universities for entrance to any science-based degree course.

Many of the degrees offered for the Geosciences (Earth Science / Geology / Geophysics / Geochemistry / Palaeobiology) are also accredited by the Geological Society of London – which means they are recognised by the professional organisation of Geologists from the UK. It is vital to realise how important this is – if you decide to pursue a career in Geology, a degree with professional accreditation will be a major boost at the start of your career!

As an applied science, students pursuing the subject at university will learn many valuable skills:

  • Observation, data collection, analysis and interpretation;
  • Ability to prepare, process and present data;
  • Present and interpret information in a range of different mediums, e.g. textual, numerical, oral, graphical;
  • Written and verbal communication skills;
  • Report writing skills;
  • Problem-solving skills and lateral thinking;
  • The ability to recognize patterns and understand complex systems.

KS5 Assessment

A mixture of both formative and summative assessment is used to assess the subject.

 A range of Formative Assessment Techniques are used which include:

  • Retrieval practice;
  • Show me;
  • Active observation.

At KS5, Geology is assessed on work produced at GCE level graded from A* to E, with A* being the highest grade. This is done through Assessment workbooks, linked to the examination texts and skills developed through the course. Verbal feedback is given during lessons and written feedback is given after each assessment. Students are given time develop their knowledge and skills in response to this feedback.

Summative assessments use past-paper examination questions that are linked to the units of work that the students’ study as detailed in the content.

KS5 Content

Y12 Content Autumn

  1. Structural Geology Introduction
  2. Elements, Minerals and Rocks
  3. The Rock Cycle
  4. Sedimentary Rocks
  5. Sedimentary Processes
  6. Igneous Rocks
  7. Metamorphic Rocks
  8. Mapwork

Y12 Content Spring

  1. Time and Change (Palaeontology)
  2. Earth Structure and Global Tectonics

Y12 Content Summer

  1. Mapwork
  2. Specified Practicals
  3. Fieldwork

Y13 Content Autumn

  1. Geological Resources
  2. Geohazards
  3. Past Life and Climate

Y13 Content Spring

  1. Past Life and Climate
  2. Climate Change

Y13 Content Summer

  1. Geological Evolution of Britain
  2. Geohazards – Geotechnical Engineering
  3. Geological Mapping

Exam Board and website link

Examination board and syllabus: Eduqas Geology

Details of external assessment

Assessment Component 1: Geological Investigations

Written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes

35% of qualification

Section A: Two stimulus response questions requiring short and structured answers.

Section B: An investigation of the geology of an area shown on an accompanying simplified geological map


Component 2: Geological Principles and Processes

Written examination: 1 hour 45 minutes 30% of qualification - Six stimulus response questions requiring short, structured and extended answers.


Component 3: Geological Applications

Written examination: 2 hours

35% of qualification

Section A: Geohazards. Two stimulus response questions requiring short and structured answers

Section B: Geological map applications. An investigation of the geology of an area shown on a Geological Survey map extract using stimulus response questions requiring short, structured and extended answers.

Section C: Learners answer questions on the Geological Evolution of Britain. There will be three questions requiring short, structured and extended answers.


Practical Endorsement - Non-exam assessment Assessment of practical competency. Reported separately and not contributing to final grade.


Useful links & resources for KS5

Geohub University of Liverpool -

British Geological Survey -

The Edinburgh Geological Society -

The Geological Society -

The Geological Society of America -


The Geologists Association -

The Palaeontological Association -

The Ussher Society -

The Yorkshire Geological Society -


The textbooks used are:

“Geoscience: Understanding Geological Processes” by Dee Edwards, Colin Dickinson, Alastair Fleming, Tony Shelton, Maggie Williams, Zoe Fleming, Mike Tuke, Trevor Brown and Peter Kennett

(Geoscience: Understanding Geological Processes: Edwards, Dee, Edwards, Dee, Edwards, Dee, Edwards, Dee, Dickinson, Colin, Fleming, Alastair, Shelton, Tony, Williams, Maggie, Fleming, Zoe, Tuke, Mike, Brown, Trevor, Kennett, Peter: 9780340688434: Books)


“OCR Geology for A Level and AS” by Stephen Davies, Frank Mugglestone, Ruth Richards, Anthony Shelton, Malcolm Fry, Vince Williams and Debbie Armstrong

(OCR Geology for A Level and AS: Davies, Stephen, Mugglestone, Frank, Richards, Ruth, Shelton, Anthony, Fry, Malcolm, Williams, Vince, Armstrong, Debbie: 9781911208143: Books)


“Geological Science” by Andrew McLeish

(Geological Science : McLeish, Andrew: Books)


“Geological Science: Questions and Answers” by Andrew McLeish and Ron Grigson

(Geological Science: Questions and Answers : McLeish, Andrew, Grigson, Ron: Books)


“Fossils at a Glance”, 2nd Edition by Clare Milsom and Sue Rigby

(Fossils at a Glance, 2nd Edition: Milsom, Clare, Rigby, Sue: 9781405193368: Books)


“Sedimentary Petrology” by Maurice Tucker

(Sedimentary Petrology: TUCKER M.E.: 9788126532995: Books)


“Principles of Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology”

by Anthony R. Philpotts and Jay J. Ague

(Principles of Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology: Philpotts, Anthony R., Ague, Jay J.: 9781108492881: Books)


“Geological Field Techniques” by Angela L. Coe

(Geological Field Techniques: Angela L. Coe: 9781444330625: Books)


"Geology of Britain - An Introduction" by P Toghill



“The Geological History of the British Isles” by Arlene Hunter and Glynda Easterbrook

(The Geological History of the British Isles: Hunter, Arlene, Easterbrook, Glynda: 9780749201388: Books)