Geology is multidisciplinary subject which draws together elements of all the sciences to help further our understanding of the Earth, both today and in the past, including the life which inhabits it and processes which shape it.

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Geology is a new subject offered only at A-level and requires at least one strong science grade of a 7, we also recommend a 7 in mathematics to deal with the numerical side of the course.

We typically have strong numbers studying Geology and the department has a very strong track record of success at A-level as well as continued study into degree. Recent students are now studying at across the UK in Universities such as Exeter, Portsmouth, Birmingham and Oxford. Geology is considered a science A-level by all Universities and complements any other STEM A-level as well as Geography.

Careers available in Geology are as wide as can be imagined. We have past students working as exploration geologists for oil and mineral companies, in the field working as geochemists and even discovering ancient organisms as palaeontologists. Whilst Geology complements any scientific career plan it can also help to develop a raft of skills which can be useful in other contexts for those who are not thinking of pursuing such routes. The field based element encourages team working, lab work builds analytical skills and the class work promotes an appreciation of multidisciplinary study and how to bring diverse subject areas together.

We follow the OCR specification. For details see the OCR Website Link (

Geology is a diverse subject and this is reflected in lessons. Geologists commonly deal with timescales in the millions of years and volumes as large as whole continents so modelling concepts is a core theme. Wherever possible lessons have a practical element and we have a rich (and delicious!) history of making geologically themed cakes from plate tectonic settings to fossil life! BWS has a very sizeable collection of rock and fossil specimens gathered from our many fieldtrips which are regularly used in lessons.

The content for the A-level is split over seven teaching modules:

  Course Overview
Module 1:
Field Skills 

All students are required to spend a minimum of 4 quality days in the field sites will include; Lulworth, Lyme, Osmington, Bude and Kilve as well as a 5 day residential abroad to Iceland.

Module 2: Foundations in Geology
  • Igneous, Metamorphic, Sedimentary rocks – characteristics and formation.
  • Fossils groups and organisms through time
  • Geological time scale
Module 3: Tectonics
  • Earth structure and origin
  • Plate tectonics and volcanology
  • Earthquakes – stress and strain
  • Geological structures – faults and folds
Module 4: Interpreting the Past
  • Rock cycle and geological time
  • Palaeoenvironments - e.g. where are rocks deposited
  • Dating – radiometric dating and using stratigraphy
Module 5: Petrology and Economic Geology
  • Processes which create sedimentary rocks; turbidity currents, deltas, banded-iron formations etc.
  • Igneous and metamorphic petrology (chemistry and minerals)
  • Mid-ocean ridges
  • Mineral exploration and extraction
Module 6: Geohazards
  • Earthquakes
  • Forecasting for geohazards, earthquakes and volcanoes
  • Geotechnics (strength and deformation of rocks)
  • Engineering geology; tunnels, dams, landfill
Module 7: Changing Earth
  • Sea level change and palaeoclimate
  • Evolution in the fossil record, and mass extinctions
  • Oil and gas


The course is examined by way of three written assessments at the end of two years of study;

  • Fundamentals of Geology (110 Marks – 2 hours 15 minutes) 41% of A-level
  • Scientific Literacy in Geology (100 Marks – 2 hours 15 minutes) 37% of A-level
  • Practical Skills in Geology (60 Marks – 1 hour 30 minutes) 22% of A-level

The scheme of work for Year 12 and 13 Students can be viewed at the bottom of this page.

Extensive course notes are available to students on the school networks (Q:\Geology at BWS)

All students need to have a copy of the OCR Geology for A Level and AS (Illuminate Publishing) textbook (available from the Illuminate Publishing Website) which accompanies the course as shown below.

Geology book2

There are no supported revision guides however there are extensive notes available which are distributed as part of the classroom work and hosted on the online systems.

Students will undertake practical and fieldwork in both years of the A Level and we have an extensive selection of day trips as well as a residential trip offered. Day trip locations include Kimmeridge Bay, Whatley Quarry and Frome, Barton-on-sea and Osmington Mills whilst recent residential trips have been to the fascinating landscape of Iceland.

Year 12 Scheme of Work
Year 13 Scheme of Work
Geology Subject Information 2024