Major Events in the History of Life

Module code: GL2107
Module co-ordinator: Professor Sarah Gabbott

Our understanding of the evolution of life on our planet is derived from evidence from living and extinct organisms. In this module we will explore and critically evaluate the wealth of evidence on how life has evolved, with particular emphasis on data provided by the fossil record.

We will interpret major evolutionary events by reading, translating, and understanding the fossil record. We will explore how function can be interpreted from form, how species are identified, and how the ecology of fossils may be reconstructed.

Topics covered

  • The Cambrian evolutionary radiation
  • The End-Permian mass extinction event
  • The evolution of 'limbs from fins' and terrestrialisation
  • The evolution of hominins and conscientiousness

Learning

  • 15 hours of lectures
  • 24 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 2 hours of demonstration
  • 109 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Written exam, 2 hours (70%)
  • Group project with individual report (20%)
  • Group YouTube video (10%)