Earth History and Life


Yr2_Sedimentology_JW (4)

This module focuses on how planet Earth has changed physically and biologically through geological time and it will introduce the principles of stratigraphy and palaeontology.

The concepts of deep-time and the geological timescale will be developed and provide a fundamental framework for studies in Geological and Earth Sciences. Through lectures, case studies will be presented from the geological timescale that address key events in the Earth's history, including the plate tectonic and palaeogeographic history of the planet, the development of global biogeochemical cycles, profound episodes of evolutionary diversification and extinction, as well as global patterns of climate and environment change through time. Integrating lecture and practical content, the module will introduce invertebrate macrofossils and trace fossils, and their modes of preservation. Palaeontological topics will include the classification, morphology, modes of life and geological importance of trilobites, brachiopods, molluscs, graptolites, echinoderms and corals. Trace fossils will also be explored in terms of their classification and evidence for organism:sediment interactions. 

By the end of the module you will be able to:

  • Recount the major systems of the geological timescale and understand the principles of stratigraphy and deep-time.
  • Demonstrate how planet Earth has changed through geological time as a result of past geological processes.
  • Explain the relationship between changing climates and geological processes at a global to local scale.
  • Understand key events in Earth history and link these to likely causal mechanisms.
  • Identify and classify the commoner types of invertebrate macrofossils and trace fossils.
  • Describe, in basic terms, the modes of fossil and trace fossil preservation.
  • Demonstrate how fossils can be used in biostratigraphy.
  • Use fossils and trace fossils to aid inference of sedimentary environment and in palaeogeographical reconstruction.


  • Examinations
  • Practical assessments