1. I’m deciding which subjects to take at A/AS level with a view to studying for a geology degree afterwards. How do I choose?
In general taking a minimum of two science subjects will let you in to most degrees, and you are likely to be eligible for any course if you have A levels in Chemistry, Maths and Physics. If you have other interests however, it might be easier to think about the kind of geologist you want to be first, and narrow down the degrees that would take you on this route. You can then investigate the admissions requirements for these particular courses. For instance, if you want to become a hydrogeologist you will need a degree that contains hydrogeological modules and related applied geology teaching, possibly at an institution where hydrogeology is a research interest of the staff.
Full listings of the requirements of geology departments in terms of subjects and grades can be found via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website at: www.ucas.ac.uk
2. How do I decide which university to go to? Are some universities better than others?
The Geological Society runs an accredited degree scheme, where you can find the list of accredited courses. (But note that just because you don’t find the course you fancied, that might be because the staff haven’t applied for accreditation yet, not that the course hasn’t been approved.) Some institutions deliberately specialise in certain geoscience topics, and this is often reflected in the titles of their departments, for instance at Southampton University, School of ocean and Earth science.
However, although content and academic status are very important they are not the only aspect to selecting where you might study for at least three years. For example, how far from home would be right for you? You may want to study in London but would the accommodation (and everything else!) be just too expensive? Are sports facilities important to you? And so on…
3. Why would I choose a MGeol degree rather than taking a BSc and then a masters? Can you explain what all the qualifications mean?
An MGeol or MSci degree is basically a first degree or BSc and a further degree (MSc) rolled into one. There has been criticism of this approach as some feel that the extra year offers only increased breadth of knowledge, rather than increased depth, and so is not comparable with the traditional route of BSc followed by MSc. However some MGeol/MSci degrees give students the chance to take up work placements or study overseas, and these activities are presumably highly regarded by employers.