Palaeobiology, Micropalaeontology and Palaeoenvironmental Analysis


This module develops students' understanding of palaeobiology from year 1 and introduces the concepts of palaeocology and palaeoenvironmental analysis whilst instilling critical evaluation of the quality of the fossil record before interpretations are made from it. The module provides opportunity for exploration of (a) the processes of fossilisation and the importance of exceptional preservation in interpreting the fossil record, (b) environmental controls on the distribution of organisms from macro- and microfossil assemblages in a range of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and (c) practical experience of dealing with mega- and microfossil samples and interpreting microfossil data to elucidate palaeoenvironments and the rate and tempo of palaeoenvironmental change, using microsoft Excel and PAST software to quantitatively analyse fossil data. 


  • 10 hours Lectures
  • 1 hour demonstration of megafossils
  • 1 x 3 hour practical session (microscope based)
  • 2 x 3 hours practical sessions (computer based)
  • 1 hour Peerwise workshop (computer based)
  • 1 hour revision workshop


  • 1 hour exam (50%) comprising an essay (45 minutes, 37.5%) and one short answer question (15 minutes, 12.5%)
  • 1,500 word project report (50%) outlining the results and interpretations of the practical exercises