Geology at Sir Thomas Rich's

The geologist takes up the history of the earth at the point where the archaeologist leaves it, and carries it further back

Geology has long been successfully established at Sir Thomas Rich’s. It is fundamentally to do with understanding the workings of, and unravelling the history of, the Earth by looking at the tiny shreds of evidence left behind in Geology’s main resource – the rocks. This is real detective work, and you will develop skills to be able to do this.

Geology appeals to both scientists and non-scientists; it is classed as a science subject for entry to Higher Education, but it is an applied science, using concepts and skills from Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, and Archaeology. Many students take Geology with science subjects, which can be very helpful, but it is not essential.


Head of Department:

Key Stage 3 - Year 9

Teaching Arrangements: This subject is offered as a lunchtime option to interested year 9 students, who apply for places at the end of year 8. The course is completed in one year, requiring a commitment of 3 lunchtimes per week.
Homework Guidance: Homework is set accordingly
Assessment Arrangements: Assessment is 75% examination (1hr 30 mins) and 25% structured coursework, based on field and laboratory work.
Topics Covered:
Year 9
  • The nature and formation of minerals and the different types of rocks; igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic.
  • The nature and formation of geological structures; fods, faults and unconformities.
  •  The methods of dating rocks and interpretation of geological history
  • The development of landscapes theough natural processes, geological; rock types and structures and by human agencies.
  • Major geological ideas: the Rock Cycle, Plate Tectonics, Global Climatic Change
  • The development of life on Earth
  • The movement of Britain through geological time Geological "News"
  • Great Fossil finds, Geological Hazards - earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, man-made geological hazards
  • The work of professional geologists: exploration for minerals and fuels, geotechnical work, research
Entry Requirements: Students need to achieve a grade 6 in geography or chemistry or 7,7 in Double award science
Teaching Arrangements: Geology is taught for 7 periods a week
Homework Guidance: Homework is set accordingly
Assessment Arrangements: There are three components assessed at the end of the 2 year course:
Geological Investigations (2 hours 15 minutes, 35%, 105 marks) Based on F and G sections
Section A Two data response questions requiring short, structured answers.
Section B consists of a problem-solving exercise based on a geological map, photographs and actual specimens of rocks, minerals and fossils. It is internally assessed and externally moderated. It requires students to use their geological and investigative skills, acquired through laboratory and field work, to assess aspects of the geology of a hypothetical area.
Geological Principles and Processes (1 hour 45 minutes, 30%, 90 marks) Based on F and G sections
This component involves questions requiring candidates to respond to aspects of geology shown in maps, diagrams, graphs and photographs. Answers could be in short, structured and extended form
Geological Applications (2 hours, 35%, 105 marks) Based on T section (with underpinning knowledge from F and G)
Section A Geohazards: Two stimulus response questions requiring short and structured answers
Section B Geological Map Applications: Short structured responses are required to questions about a Geological Survey map extract.
Section C Quaternary Geology or Geological Evolution of Britain or Geology of the Lithosphere: Three questions requiring short, structured or extended answers.
Topics Covered:
Year 12&13
Fundamentals of Geology
F1 Elements, Minerals and Rocks
The nature of the Earth's crust: minerals: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
F2 Surface and Internal Processes of the Rock Cycle
The formation of minerals and rocks, involving internal and external sources of energy; the Rock Cycle. Volcanoes and volcanic hazards. The deformation of rocks: folding, faulting, unconformities, and the use of geological maps to interpret geological structures and history.
F3 Time and Change
How, by understanding the present, we can interpret the history of the geological past. The preservation, types, uses and usefulness of fossils. Dating rocks on the relative and absolute time scales.
F4 Earth Structure and Global Tectonics
The internal structure and composition of the Earth and the evidence upon which our ideas are based. The model of Plate Tectonics, and its role in controlling volcanic, earthquake, and mountain building activity.
Interpreting the Geological Record
G1 Rock Forming Processes
The generation and evolution of magma, the processes of metamorphism and models of sedimentary processes
G2 Rock Deformation
The role of rock competence and tectonic stresses in producing different types of fold and fault. The reactivation of earlier structures and the outcrop patterns of structures on maps.
G3 Past Life and Past Climates
Evidence from the fossil record for the origin, evolution, and extinction of life. The factors contributing to global climate change through geological time and evidence for such changes. Icehouse, Greenhouse, Snowball Earth.
G4 Earth Materials and Natural Resources
Processes of formation of economic resources – metal ores, bulk minerals, hydrocarbons and coal. The influence of permeability of rocks on supplies of oil, gas and water. Prospecting methods for mineral resources.
Geological Themes
T1 Geohazards
Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Mass Movement. The origin and nature of hazards associated with these phenomena and their possible prediction, management and control. Human-induced hazards can be associated with mining, quarrying, waste disposal, industrial pollution. How can these be avoided? Civil engineering projects have to take account of geological factors – roads, railways, buildings, dams, reservoirs etc.
T2 Geological Map Applications
Identification of geological structures (folds, faults, unconformities) and relationships between topography and geology on geological maps. The interpretation of subsurface conditions from surface data on geological maps. The use of geological maps for assessing potential resources, hazards and environmental issues
One of the following three options should be chosen for study
Option T3 Quaternary Geology
Glacial and Interglacial stages can be identified from the fragmentary terrestrial and more complete oceanic record of deposits laid down. Fossils in these deposits provide evidence of environmental changes, which can be dated using a variety of techniques.
Option T4 Geological Evolution of Britain
The geology of Britain has been largely determined by the collision of various continental blocks, due to past plate tectonic motions. Its gradual northward drift has resulted in the deposition of a large range of sedimentary facies over the past billion years
Option T4 Geology of the Lithosphere
The Lithosphere and Asthenosphere – definition and origin. The nature of the crust. Oceanic lithosphere – its creation, movement and destruction. Isostasy. Continental lithosphere, supercontinents, orogenic mountain belts, compressive fold and thrust belts, sedimentary basins produced by extension and loading of the crust.

Fieldwork is a vital and required part of the course; Geology is a field, as well as an applied, science. Field skills and techniques, as well as geological experience, are examined in the written papers, and the school must certify attendance on field courses. To this end, approximately 14 days of fieldwork are organised for both Year 12 and Year 13 students

Associated Clubs / Societies / Trips:
  • Coursework trips to study geology