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GEOL0003 History of Life

The course provides an introduction to palaeontology including a description of the evolution of life on Earth with particular focus on the major fossil forming groups. Practical work will include the description and classification of fossil invertebrate groups, and the manipulation and application of palaeontological data. 

Coordinator: Prof. Paul Bown

Module details
TitleHistory of Life
UG CodeGEOL0003
CoordinatorProf. Paul Bown
Other Contributors 
Term2
Credit15 credits
Written Exam80% (2 Hrs unseen)
Coursework20% (2 pieces worth 10% each)
Pre-RequisitesGEOL0007, or at least one A Level out of Biology, Geology or Geography
Maths & Stats Content and RequirementGeneral GCSE-level (or equivalent) knowledge of maths
Total Number of Hours of Student Work188 hours
Hours of Lectures/Seminars20 hours
Hours of Practicals/Problem Classes20 hours
Hours of Tutorials0
Days of Fieldwork0
OtherNone
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Topics studied in lectures and practicals include:what is palaeontology?classification and evolution;the origin of life;the early history of life;the Cambrian explosion;life in the Palaeozoic - arthropods;reef forming organisms;introduction to palaeoecology;reef fossils and palaeoecology;brachiopods and bivalves;cephalopods and palaeobiogeography;graptolites and conodonts;invasion of the land I - plants/palynology;vertebrates and invasion of the land II;echinoderms;dinosaurs;mass extinctions;mammals;the rise of humans.Practical work will include the description and classification of major invertebrate fossil groups, and the manipulation and application of palaeontological data.

Topics studied in lectures and practicals include:

  • the origin of life;
  • what is palaeontology?
  • classification and evolution;
  • the early history of life;
  • the Cambrian explosion;
  • life in the Palaeozoic - arthropods;
  • reef forming organisms;
  • introduction to palaeoecology;
  • reef fossils and palaeoecology;
  • brachiopods and bivalves;
  • cephalopods and palaeobiogeography;
  • graptolites and conodonts;
  • invasion of the land I - plants/palynology;
  • vertebrates and invasion of the land II;
  • echinoderms;
  • dinosaurs;
  • mass extinctions;
  • mammals;
  • the rise of humans.

Practical work will include the description and classification of major invertebrate fossil groups, and the manipulation and application of palaeontological data.

 

AIMS

To discuss the development of life on Earth and the way in which life and the physical environment have interacted through 3,800 million years of Earth history. To describe the formation of the solar system, the origins of life on Earth, and the development of life and the planet through the Precambrian and Phanerozoic. To introduce all aspects of palaeontology - palaeobiology, biostratigraphy, evolution, palaeoecology and taxonomy. 

To discuss the development of life on Earth and the way in which life and the physical environment have interacted through 3,800 million years of Earth history. To describe the formation of the solar system, the origins of life on Earth, and the development of life and the planet through the Precambrian and Phanerozoic. To introduce all aspects of palaeontology - palaeobiology, biostratigraphy, evolution, palaeoecology and taxonomy. 

OUTCOMES

Understanding of the interactions between the biosphere and the physical environment through geological time;Recognition & description of fossils;Knowledge and practical application of palaeontological techniques in the Geological Sciences, specifically in biostratigraphy, palaeoenvironmental analyses and evolutionary studies;Knowledge of the biology, classification and geological history of all major fossil groups.

  • Understanding of the interactions between the biosphere and the physical environment through geological time;
  • Recognition & description of fossils;
  • Knowledge and practical application of palaeontological techniques in the Geological Sciences, specifically in biostratigraphy, palaeoenvironmental analyses and evolutionary studies;
  • Knowledge of the biology, classification and geological history of all major fossil groups.