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 partly based on contributions from the students. Various aspects of applied palaeontology are treated including biostratigraphy, chronostratigraphy, diversity in the past, trace fossils, species concepts and use of fossil databases.


MSc Programme in Geology-Geoscience

Learning outcome


  • Evolution of Earth’s organisms and history of life: the big picture
  • Methods in species concept
  • Approach to bio- and chronostratigraphy
  • Use of fossils as tracers of environmental changes
  • Drivers of biological diversity



  • Systematics in Palaeontology
  • Methods in biostratigraphy
  • Use of fossil database
  • Fossils as climatic and environmental proxies
  • Trace fossils as environmental proxies
  • Peer-review of essay writing and editing



  • Can synthesize scientific literature orally and in a written essay
  • Can provide peer-review feedback
  • Can use fossil assemblages as environmental and climatic proxies and age indicators

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
Written assignment, Ongoing preparation throughout the course
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
The written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure and includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. The oral exam is without preperation. A combined grade is provided after the oral exam.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.

Identical to the ordinary exam.

If the quality of the written assignment is not acceptable, the student can choose to either hand in a new or revised report.

If the written assignment's quality is acceptable, the student can either hand in a revised report or resubmit the original report from the ordinary exam.

The written assignment must be handed in prior to the re-examination week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.

Criteria for exam assessment

See Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

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


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
The number of places might be reduced if you register in the late-registration period (BSc and MSc) or as a credit or single subject student.
Study Board of Geosciences and Management
Contracting department
  • Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Arne Thorshøj Nielsen   (5-6a7b776e7d4972707737747e376d74)
Saved on the 14-02-2024

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