3 Responses to Advanced Level rock bothering – what should we do with A Level Geology?

  1. Lorin Davies says:

    My old school runs Geology A-level and turns out a disproportionate number of students who go on to do geology degrees every year, in my year-group alone there were 5 people who went on to do single honours geology degrees and even more who did Earth Sciences. The A-level class only had about 15 students! This is also the case for other schools which run an A-level geology course.
    It should be taken in addition to other science subjects; surely a student with Maths, Chemistry and Geology A-levels under their belt would be one of the best equipped for a degree in the subject?
    I completely agree about GCSE though, the small whisker of geology included in geography is insufficient.
    However, can you have a GCSE subject with no A-level counterpart? Shouldn’t there be an unbroken chain of educating geology to children and is it fair to get a student really excited about a subject and then turn around at the beginning of the sixth form and say they have to go and do some other subjects instead in order to carry on with it later?

    Thoroughly enjoying the blog!

  2. geologygeek says:

    Geology A levels *do* turn out a disproportionate number of people doing geology – but that’s the point. If those people are going to go on to do geology degrees anyway, what purpose does the A level serve?

    we’re not going to get to a point where there are enough qualified geologists out there to provide A level provision for the whole country, and there’s only 1000 or so Geology places available at university anyway. IF universities are having to start from the assumption that some people will not have A Level geology, then what purpose does A Level geology serve?

    As far as your example goes – I think someone with Maths Chemistry and Physics would be even better prepared.

    Maybe a better compromise would be to split Geography into two separate subjects – divide the human from the physical, and bring aspects of the geology syllabus into geography? That would be a far more practical way of developing an earth science A level in every college, without the pressure to find so many classically geology trained teachers.

  3. I did both GCSE and A Level geology, at two different places but with the same tutor. GCSE was only offered to those students who had mostly A grades – we did it as an extra course after school (extra-curricular).

    When I went to college, in my second year, I was talking to the tutor and he said he had given up teaching at GCSE level, because students would go onto A Level, and think they knew it all because they’d done it before. I knew exactly what he meant – but I don’t think this means it should be stopped at GCSE level.

    I was lucky, my GCSE geography teacher was amazing and she taught us some geology – mostly volcanoes and earthquakes, but that was enough to jump at the chance to do geology when it was offered.

    At college, I did maths and physics and completely flunked both. I’ve now finished my second year at uni as a Geology undergrad, and I wholeheartedly agree that doing other courses at A Level would’ve been a better idea! Chemistry, physics, maths and maybe geography, but no geology. The first year of uni, as you said, was to get everyone to the same level so it was a bit of a bore but second year has been so much more of a challenge, especially where maths is concerned! I have had to teach myself basic trig again for geophysics.

    I do agree with having some form of geology on the curriculum as a more widely studied subject. SO many people say to me “geology, that’s interesting, but what can you do with it?” and are even more clueless when I say “pretty much anything” – I think more people need to learn about it, more people need to be aware of it and how big it is in our day to day lives.

    As an aside, before uni, I trained to be a plumber. I did a multi-skills course which included electrics. We had to draw a sketch of how power is generated and how it gets to our plugs. Everyone was shocked when I drew an oil rig, to get oil/gas, to drive a turbine, to generate electricity…

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