Palaeontology and History of Life

Course content

The course focuses on two fundamental aspects: (1) History of life, (2) Applied Palaeontology.

Major events in the History of Life Earth are examined based on recent literature. This part is based on contributions from the students, either individually or as group work. Various aspects of applied palaeontology are treated such as quantitative biostratigraphy, chronostratigraphy, diversity in the past, paleobiogeography, evolution of marine ecosystems, palaeoecological theory and methodology, functional morphology and construction of phylogenies using cladistics. Procedures and formalities in taxonomic description are introduced.


MSc Programme in Geology-Geoscience

Learning outcome


  • Evolution of Earth’s organisms: the big picture
  • Adaptation of fossil organisms to ancient environments and climate
  • Methods in analysis of palaeoecology
  • Interplay between the changing Earth and life
  • Drivers of biological diversity
  • Procedures and formalities in taxonomic description


  • Systematics in Palaeontology
  • Palaeoecology
  • Cladistics
  • Quantitative biostratigraphy
  • Palaeoecology: methodology


  • Can synthesize scientific literature orally and in a written essay
  • Can provide peer-review feedback
  • Univariate and Multivariate statistics
  • GIS-based Palaeobiogeography
  • Digital editing in GIMP and graph design in Inkscape

The form of teaching is lectures, class exercises and discussions. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.

See Absalon for a list of course literature.

Basic knowledge on fossil organisms

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
At the oral exam, the student will draw two exam questions. The exam is without preperation.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assessment

See Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 171
  • Exercises
  • 35
  • English
  • 206