Evolutionary Palaeobiology

Module code: GL4108

Module co-ordinator: Dr Tom Harvey

Fossils are invaluable to geologists, and by now you will have had the chance to study their classification, preservation, and wider geological applications. In this module, we will focus on the unique role that fossils play in illuminating the evolutionary process itself.

We will take an integrative approach, drawing together the latest insights from modern biology as well as palaeobiology to answer big questions about the evolution of life over geological timescales. In particular, we will take a critical look at some major hypotheses surrounding the Cambrian explosion, the diversity of life, and macroevolution.

(image: A microscopic tooth (around 400 microns long) from the throat of a Cambrian priapulid worm. What does it mean for the evolution of life on Earth? [credit: Tom Harvey]


This module centres around small-group discussions and extensive background reading. As well as providing an opportunity to explore particular topics at an advanced level, this module will give you the confidence to delve into the primary literature with an informed and critical eye. It will also provide insights into topical questions in palaeobiological research.


  • Exam (100%)