Palaeontology addresses how the origin and evolution of life is intricately linked with the geological history of the Earth. Through the fossil record you will explore topics such as evolutionary diversity, exceptional preservation and palaeoclimates. We will cover key groups of invertebrate fossils, vertebrate fossils and microfossils, investigating major concepts such as the origin of life, patterns of evolution and extinction, the importance of exceptional fossil assemblages, and the relationship between ecology and evolution.
You will also learn about the geological context in which fossils occur. This includes the environments where fossils became preserved, the age of the rocks that contain them, and biases resulting from geological processes. Furthermore, fossils provide crucial information for understanding current changes in ecosystems and the climate. The first-year modules will lay the foundations in palaeontology and across the breadth of the geosciences, and include a field-trip to the beautiful Isle of Arran in Scotland. Also, by choosing the Geology with Palaeontology degree when you apply, you will be assigned to a personal tutor who is a specialist in the field. In the second year, you will develop your skills and understanding across the geosciences, and start to specialise through a bespoke palaeontology module on major events in the history of life, and by choosing a palaeontological focus for your independent fieldwork. In the third year, you will develop specialist expertise through modules on vertebrates and microfossils, plus a dissertation on a palaeontological topic of your choice, and a specialist field trip. Your knowledge of palaeontology will also complement other modules including second-year climate change and the third-year optional module on stable isotopes.
Each year of the degree includes different field work opportunities including trips to Scotland, Spain and Wales where you will be able to apply all that you have learned here on campus. You will also carry out an independent field-based project which may range from geological mapping in a fossiliferous area, to field and laboratory analysis of fossils.
BSc or MGeol: what's the difference?
Whether you study for the Geology with Palaeontology BSc or the MGeol, your degree will combine the knowledge and skills base of a degree in geology with the development of expertise in the scientific study of fossils.
Apply for a BSc degree if you want an ideal three-year route to becoming a professional geologist or you’re looking to pursue further geological studies through a specialist MSc course.
Apply for a four-year MGeol degree if you are looking to fast-track your professional geological employment or to continue on to PhD research after graduation. MGeol courses include a major cutting-edge independent research project on a topic chosen by you, giving you the opportunity to work with specialist analytical facilities, learn the skills required to succeed in a research environment and potentially see your work published in a peer-reviewed journal.
It is possible to transfer between the BSc and the MGeol up to the end of Year