Reasons to study this course

  • Combines well with the classic science subjects, Maths or Core Maths, Geography, IT and Engineering.
  • Allows you to understand the processes that have shaped the present pattern of continents and oceans and the formation of economic deposits of metals and energy resources.
  • Helps you understand natural geological hazards, as well as those caused by human activity and the means of predicting and controlling them.
  • Gives you a comprehensive understanding on how life has evolved throughout Earth’s history, and how this is related to the history of climate change, as well as how this is affected by human activity today
  • Opportunity to learn your subject not just from textbooks but also in the field with a very hands-on approach.

What you will need to study this course

  • average GCSE grade of 4 or above, including at least grade 4 in Science and Maths
  • a good GCSE grade (4 or above) in English and ICT is also beneficial
  • ability to learn and recall factual information is essential
  • we encourage students to combine Geology with Core Maths or Maths, as this will support the increasingly mathematically-centred work undertaken in Geology

What you will study

The Earth’s evolution and sustainable development, uniformitarianism, geological time, the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere and biosphere and more. You will take part in at least two fieldwork days and a broad range of practical activities supported by a vast collection of real geological samples, some of which over 2 billion years old, which include both unusual minerals and fossils from all ages starting at 540 million years ago, and which will help prepare you for university courses.

How you will be assessed

Three exams.
A practical endorsement certificate is awarded by the tutor following a set of 20 practical activities. These practicals, designed and monitored by the exam board, take place both in the lab (11) and during fieldwork (9).
The certificate and fieldwork activities do not contribute directly to the final mark, but are a compulsory element of the course.

Priestley Extra

Residentials in Sicily or Iceland to see active volcanoes. Mandatory field trip to the Isle of Arran led by a team of field geologists who are experts in the local geology of one of the most important sites on the entire planet.


Academic careers in various aspects of Geology (on offer by virtually every University), as well as other scientific degrees, including, among others, Oceanography, Marine Biology, Climatology and of course the three traditional sciences. Careers including Environmental Management, civil engineering, natural and artificial hazard management, as well as very sought-after positions in Mining, Oil, Gas and Quarrying industries (often developing into extremely highly remunerative digital modelling of geological data for those with combined strong software development skills), as well as in the very rapidly expanding alternative energy resources sector. Apprenticeships and careers in organisations such as the Environment Agency or Centrica. Earth Sciences – related careers continue to be in extremely high demand, both in the public and private sectors.

Recommended reading

Geology: A Complete Introduction: Teach Yourself (David A. Rothery)

  1. rex and the Crater of Doom (Walter Alvarez)

The Earth: A Very Short Introduction – Very Short Introductions (Martin Redfern)

Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunamis: A Complete Introduction: Teach Yourself (David A. Rothery)

Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of our Planet (Ted Nield)

Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet we Made (Gaia Vince)

Jurassic Mary: Mary Anning and the Primeval Monsters (Patricia Pierce)

Geological History of Britain and Ireland (Nigel H. Woodcock, Rob Strachan)

Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World (Marcia Bjornerud)

The Ice Age: A Very Short Introduction – Very Short Introductions (Jamie Woodward)

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