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Palaeobiology Modules

The Palaeobiology degree stream will provide you with a strong background in the evolutionary history of life, including interactions with Earth’s climate. It is the interface of Earth & Life Sciences

How, when, and where did life evolve, and are we alone in the universe? Why did dinosaurs and other species disappear during mass extinctions, when other groups survived and subsequently flourished? How will species respond to the current climatic and environmental crisis? Palaeobiology provides a unique perspective in addressing these and other questions that are central to our understanding of the past, present, and future of biodiversity.

Palaeobiology sits at the interface of Earth and Life Sciences, incorporating a diverse range of disciplines, including evolutionary and molecular biology, anatomy, geology, climatology, ecology, astrobiology, geochemistry, geography, oceanography, and conservation science.

It also traverses an extraordinary range of temporal, spatial, and biological scales, from the reconstruction of ancient DNA in extinct species, to deciphering the origins of life billions of years ago, to studying the evolution of the microscopic organisms that populate the oceans, to understanding how the largest animals to ever walk on land were able to reach unprecedented sizes.

The Palaeobiology degree stream at UCL will provide you with a strong background in the evolutionary history of life, including interactions with Earth’s climate. It will teach you the cutting-edge methods that enable our understanding and reconstructions of past life, as well as how we incorporate this information into addressing the current biodiversity crisis. Delivered by experts spanning the full range of palaeobiological-related disciplines, from the origin of life to present-day biodiversity, and from the smallest life forms to the giant dinosaurs, our flexible degree stream also allows you to focus on an Earth or Life Sciences route to becoming a palaeobiologist.
 

Modules:

Year 1

Term 1 - Autumn Term

Module CodeCredit ValueModule Title
Compulsory:  
GEOL000115Earth Materials
GEOL000715The Earth
BIOL000115Quantitative Biology
Options:  
GEOL000815Geochemistry
BIOL000415Life on Earth
BIOL000615Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Term 2 - Spring Term

Module CodeCredit ValueModule Title
Compulsory:  
GEOL000315History of Life
GEOL000615Surface Processes
BIOL000315Introduction to Genetics
Options:  
GEOL000215From Petrology to Petrogenesis
Fieldwork:  
Dorset/Devon Coast Part of GEOL0006 Surface Processes (takes place in the Easter vacation)
Cornwall/Devon Coast Part of GEOL0002 From Petrology to Petrogenesis
Year 2

Term 1 - Autumn Term

Module CodeCredit ValueModule Title
Compulsory:  
GEOL000915Vertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution
BIOL001215Animal Biodiversity
Options:  
GEOL0015 15Maps, Images & Structures
(GEOL0015 is a prerequisite for GEOL0010)
   
BIOL000815Fundamentals of Molecular Biology
GEOG002015Ecological Patterns & Processes
XBKB0023 Check availbility at Birkbeck15Astrobiology (taught at Birkbeck in the evenings) 

Term 2 - Spring Term

Module CodeUnit ValueModule Title
Options:  
GEOL001015Surface Processes & Structures 
(GEOL0015 is a prerequisite for GEOL0010)
GEOL001715Isotope Geology 
BIOL001115Evolutionary Genetics
BIOL001415Fundamentals of Ecology
Fieldwork:  
Pyrenees Part of GEOL0010 Surface Processes & Structures (taught in the Easter vacation)
Year 3

Term 1 - Autumn Term

Module CodeUnit ValueModule Title
Compulsory:  
GEOL002115Biodiversity and Macroevolutionary Patterns
Options:  
ANTH0012 (PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A LEVEL 5 MODULE)15Palaeoanthropology

Other modules are available from GEOG* and ANTH*. Please check with the departments.

Term 1 & 2

Module CodeCredit ValueModule Title
Options:  
GEOL001415Geosciences Report

Term 2 - Spring Term

Module CodeCredit ValueModule Title
Options:  
BIOL003215Species Conservation & Biodiversity 
BIOL002015Sex, Genes and Evolution
ANTH004015Primate Evolution and Environments 
HPSC010715Science Journalism
ANTH006015Primate Behaviour & Ecology
   
Year 4

MSci Co-ordinator: Professor Ian Wood

To progress to Year 4 of the MSci programme, you must have a Year 3 average of 60% or better and a nominal BSc award of an upper second, or better. Students who do not fulfil the required criteria to proceed at the end of the third year may be considered for graduation with the award of a BSc Honours degree.

Students can also choose courses from other departments at UCL, in particular, Geography, Biology, Archaeology, Anthropology, and Anatomy. Please seek further advice from the Undergraduate Tutor.

Term 1 - Autumn Term

Module CodeCredit ValueModule Title
Compulsory:  
GEOL004415Palaeoceanography
BIOL003515Vertebrate Life & Evolution
Options:  
GEOL005915Origin of Life and Exobiology
Electives: Available in UCL Biology, Anatomy, Anthropology, Archaeology.

Term 1 & 2

Module CodeCredit ValueModule Title
Compulsory:  
GEOL003915Earth & Planetary System Science
GEOL07245Independent MSci Project

Term 2 - Spring Term

Module CodeCredit ValueModule Title
Option:  
GEOL0045 NOT RUNNING 2022/2315Palaeoclimatology
BIOL003215Species Conservation & Biodiversity (May be taken if not already taken in Year 3) 
GEOL002515Earth Resources and Sustainability
GEOL003615Advanced Biodiversity and Macroevolutionary Studies
Electives: Available in UCL Biology, Anatomy, Anthropology, Archaeology.
Fieldwork:  
Germany Part of GEOL0039 Earth & Planetary System Science

Our research encompasses the responses of past life to environmental changes that are analogous to the current climate crisis, which is critical for understanding the long-term effects on living species.