Courses by subject
Palaeobiology and Earth Systems
Palaeontology and Geobiology
Alphabetic list of courses by institution providing more details and links for further information:
The Bristol MSc in Palaeobiology is the longest-established and most successful Masters programme of its kind in the world, with over 200 graduates since it was founded in 1996, many in excellent jobs around the world. Students are mainly British, but there are four or five overseas students each year, from countries as diverse as the United States, Iceland, Venezuela, Belgium, France and Mexico. The programme is unique in the success of students in research and the number of projects so far published.
The programme is designed for students with a BSc in either a biological or Earth sciences subject, and conversion courses in evolutionary biology and sedimentology are offered. The MSc offers a broad-based overview of modern approaches in palaeobiology. Students study core taught units in current controversies, research and systematic methods, taphonomy and palaeoecology, and scientific communication, and (4) optional units, from vertebrate palaeobiology (2), early human origins, biomechanics, to the marine record of past climate change, geobiology, and the evolution of the biosphere.
Then there is a six-month independent project, and students are offered a wide range of topics. The project is a major component of the degree, and we encourage students to carry out cutting-edge work and to present it in publishable form. So far, some sixty MSc projects have been published, all in leading international journals, and we aim to help and encourage students to publish as many as possible. Students receive training in writing scientific papers, and applying for PhDs and jobs (both in Britain and overseas). So far, many graduates have gone on to rewarding careers in palaeontology and related scientific areas.
Full details of the programme, of former students, and how to apply, are available on the course website. Application forms may be downloaded from the website, or they can be provided by firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the MScR course in Palaeontology and Geobiology you will learn about current debates in palaeontology, geobiology, evolutionary biology and ecology. Your dissertation will be central to this, where you will undertake an independent research project which will form the basis for learning how to do your own self-guided, hands-on research and discover something new about how the world works. The School of GeoSciences has a strong geochemical and climate change research programme, and students have the opportunity to develop analytical skills, with hands-on experience of a range of analytical instruments. Through close research supervision and training tailored to suit you, the MScR aims to:
- Expose you to a range of key debates concerning methodology and ideas
- Provide you with tools for critical understanding
- Offer training in appropriate research methods related to your particular area of research focus
In addition, you will undertake generic skills training as an aid to your research and career progression, and will attend useful RTD-run workshops on topics such as oral and poster presentation skills and writing papers.
MSc in Geosciences: Palaeobiology and Earth Systems Research Lab at Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
The two-year Masters programme aims at training a new generation of scientists, science communicators and palaeobiology professionals prepared to tackle the acute theme of global change and its impact on organisms and ecosystems. Palaeobiology is at the core of the programme, emphasizing theoretical concepts of macroecology and macroevolution, as well as statistical techniques and scientific programming. The theoretical background is complemented by practical modules in the Earth Systems Research Lab, which include preparation of a research proposal, a one-semester individual project, writing of a research article and scientific communication through seminars and press releases. Students have the opportunity to participate in various research projects, including collaborations and fieldwork opportunities around the world, before they choose the topic of their Masters thesis.
The programme draws from the research foci in Erlangen, i.e. reefs and carbonate systems, which are the result of the metabolic activity of organisms and thus reflect the interplay of the biosphere and the earth-system at large. Emphasis is placed on macroevolution and the relative contributions of biotic interactions (e.g., symbiosis, parasitism) and abiotic factors (e.g., climate) in driving macroevolutionary patterns. Students receive intensive training in programming and its applications in biodiversity modelling and prediction.
The programme starts in October 2017. There is no tuition fee. There are multiple scholarships and opportunities for students to become employed as part-time research assistants. Please check our website for admission deadlines and requirements: www.palaeobiology.de
The MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity is run jointly by Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum, London (NHM). The course was first introduced in 1996. Together with the associated MRes Biosystematics (since 2002), we have trained nearly 500 students. The course has been thoroughly updated after two recent external reviews. The MSc is taught jointly by researchers from Imperial and NHM. At Imperial, lecturers come from the Ecology and Evolution section at Silwood Park. They mainly contribute to teaching of quantitative skills for ecology, biodiversity and genomics. At the NHM, two large research departments in Life Sciences and Earth Sciences contribute to teaching in taxonomy, biodiversity, collection science and palaeobiology.
Most of the MSc is taught in the historical NHM building in central London, where the MSc uses a dedicated lecture room and computer lab. The statistics, genomics and fieldwork modules are held at Silwood Park (4 weeks total). The taught course comprises some 200 lectures and seminars, and three mini-projects in molecular biology, morphological phylogenetics and biodiversity genomics. This is followed by a 3.5-month research project on a topic of the student’s choice in the third term.
1 year full-time or 2 or 3 years part-time
Course Aims and Objectives:
Students are trained in practical and conceptual issues in taxonomy and biodiversity, starting from phylogenetic principles. The course provides methodological background and quantitative skills in morphological and molecular techniques of taxonomy and systematics, with great emphasis on computer applications and data analysis. The most up-to-date ideas and research in taxonomy and biodiversity are taught, to a large extent from primary literature. Hands-on training in conducting research in this area is provided by project supervisors, with specialisation in the student’s field of choice.
The broader aims of the course are to provide:
- A solid understanding of the diversity of living organisms in space and time
- The conceptual basis of taxonomy and phylogenetics, and the power of ‘tree thinking’ for underpinning research in the life sciences
- Familiarity with methods for measuring this diversity and monitoring changes due to both anthropogenic and natural factors
- Hands-on training of latest techniques to the study of biodiversity, with an emphasis on genomics methods and digital tools for exploiting museum collections
- The ability to formulate scientific hypotheses and design an appropriate research plan for testing these
- Training in all aspects of scientific communication, including presentations to scientific conferences, to popular audiences (e.g. at the NHM), and writing scientific reports and journal publications
- An understanding of how these concepts of taxonomy and biodiversity are useful in applied science, including policy making
The minimum qualification for admission is an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) degree in any area of biology or related science-based subject (e.g. palaeontology, geology, marine biology, anthropology, environmental sciences) from a UK academic institution or an equivalent overseas qualification. Extensive relevant work experience with a lower degree will be considered in special cases. The College also has a minimum English language requirement for postgraduate study; click here to see more details.
Further details are available from:
Course Administrator: Jennifer Bennett Telephone: +44 (0)20 7594 2170 Email: email@example.com
This is a one-year research-based postgraduate course, run jointly by Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum, London, a leading institute in systematics research, where the students will be based for much of their time. The course provides students with a broad perspective of taxonomy and systematics, together with relevant practical experience. The course is aimed at students who wish to broaden their knowledge in this area before undertaking a PhD or embarking on a career in systematics research. The course runs alongside the MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity and students will attend key lectures of that course. Students are fully integrated in research groups and attend lab meetings and research seminars.
The MRes Biosystematics is unique in that it comprises three consecutive 14-week research projects, which gives students the opportunity for ‘rotation’ through multiple research labs and types of projects. While studies of the subject area are by hands-on research, wide coverage of the field is achieved by selection of one project each from three main areas, including: (a) specimen-based phylogenetics, (b) molecular systematics and genomics, and (c) ‘big-data’ bioinformatics and biodiversity informatics. The projects are selected from a list of eligible topics or are developed with the student’s input. The very wide range of research interests of potential supervisors at Imperial and the NHM ensures a broad choice of topics.
Further details are available from:
Course Administrator: Jennifer Bennett Telephone: +44 (0)20 7594 2170 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The objective of the programme is to train students to answer questions of interest to both academia (palaeobiology, climate change) and industry (resource exploration in sedimentary basins). Special attention is paid to integrating fundamental and applied aspects of palaeontology and the geosciences. Students are trained to use quantitative tools useful for palaeobiological studies, as well as analytical methods for stratigraphic correlations and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.
The Masters programme, taught in English, is available to students with a four-year BSc degree (or equivalent) in Earth, life or environmental sciences. It leads to a French MSc degree sponsored by the French Government and, as such, tuition fees amount to c. €600 (including health and social security). During the first semester the student needs to obtain 30 European credits (30 ECTS) by following a number of taught courses to be chosen from: integrated paleontology, quantitative palaeontology, palaeoclimatology, geobiology, micropalaeontology, biochronology and sedimentology-sequence stratigraphy and fieldtrips organized in northern France. The second term is dedicated to a Masters thesis that can be prepared either in Lille or in any of our partner universities abroad.
The programme attracts an international and very diverse population of students. Courses are taught by academic staff from the University of Lille and by a number of lecturers/professors invited by the university, as well as industrial micropalaeontologists (i.e. Total).
We also offer the possibility for students to enroll in a two-year Double Diploma programme taught in English, established with our partner universities in Sweden (Uppsala) and Russia (Novossibirsk/Tomsk), which allows for mobility of 6-12 months in one of these countries.
Further details available from:
Prof T. Danelian (Taniel.email@example.com).
This programme is offered to prospective students who wish to pursue research in a selected field of the geological sciences (including any aspect of palaeobiology) for a period of one calendar year full-time or two calendar years part-time and be awarded a Masters degree. The main focus of the degree programme is an independent research project, chosen by the student, developed into a project proposal through discussion with a chosen supervisor at Royal Holloway. Based on previous projects it may be possible to arrange co-supervisors from other universities or from the Natural History Museum, London, to benefit from their specialist expertise. Students will receive training in research skills, including data collection, data handling and analytical techniques as well as transferable and presentation skills. During their studies students may attend taught courses if they wish to do so and students will have access to the wide range of other training opportunities available in the college Researcher Development Programme (RDP). Students may be employed as postgraduate demonstrators if there are opportunities available. In this situation they may attend the course 'Skills of Teaching to Inspire Learning' (inSTIL), which, on successful completion, results in accreditation as an Associate of the Higher Education Academy. The main outcome of the programme is a piece of independent research presented in the form of a dissertation. Upon completion of the programme students will have gained experience of research and presentation of material in the geological sciences which equips them to publish work in international scientific journals.
Prospective students should contact individual members of staff in the department in the first instance to discuss potential research projects. The research interests of staff are available via links on this page of the department website https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/earthsciences/staffdirectory/home.aspx.
More general enquires may be directed to our postgraduate administrator Lynne White (Lynne.White@rhul.ac.uk)
Manchester has a team of researchers, and a large community of PhD and masters students, working on a wide range of topics in ancient life. The fossils we have studied in recent years range from some of the earliest traces of life, 3.4 billion years in age, to the evolution of our own species in the more recent geological past. Associated with these activities is the Interdisciplinary Centre for Ancient Life, a research centre using a range of novel techniques to study fossils, the deep history of life and the patterns and processes of evolution. Associated with this centre and the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, the University of Manchester offers an MPhil in Palaeontology. This is a research degree which research degree takes place over a single year. Over the course of an MPhil, you will carry out research into the topic that you have chosen, and finish with the publication of your own dissertation (which is how the degree is assessed). There are a broad range of research projects in different areas on offer. You can find more details about potential projects, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Ancient Life, and full contact and application details, on the Interdisciplinary Centre for Ancient Life website.
Further details are available from: http://www.ical.manchester.ac.uk/postgraduate/
The two-year Palaeobiology Masters programme at Uppsala University, Sweden, draws on the combined strengths of the palaeobiological research in both the Earth Sciences and Organismal Biology departments. The taught components include an introduction to Earth system science and global change, followed by in-depth examinations of palaeobiological principles; evolution and development including a significant practical training component; special topics in the origins of major ecosystems and specialist vertebrate topics. The last six months of the programme entail an independent research project across a broad range of possible topics, with the aim of eventual publication. As a student of palaeobiology you can choose one of two tracks to follow. The first is to complete the full two years in Uppsala and the other is a Double Diploma in cooperation with the University of Lille 1 in France. As a student of the 'European Palaeobiology Specialisation', you apply to Uppsala University but study the first term in Lille before moving to Uppsala to join the Uppsala students.
The education is partly shared between the Department of Earth Sciences and the Department of Organismal Biology. Current research topics and staff can be found here http://www.geo.uu.se/research/palaeobiology/ and here http://www.iob.uu.se/research/evolution-and-development/vertebrates/. Please note that Swedish universities do not currently charge any fees for EU students, and all courses are taught in English.
For more information about the application procedure and deadlines: http://www.uu.se/en/admissions/master/selma/program/?pKod=TGV2M. If you have any questions or want more details please contact the Study Counsellor at the department: firstname.lastname@example.org