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Masters Courses

If you co-ordinate a Masters course that you would like to see listed below, or you wish to have any information updated, please contact Last updated 22 Dcember 2020.

Courses by subject



Palaeobiology and Earth Systems



Palaeontology and Geobiology

Earth Science/Geology


Alphabetic list of courses by institution providing more details and links for further information:

Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Pangea

The European Master programme "Pangea (aAlaeontology, Geoheritage, Applications)" is a two-year (120 ECTS) programme entirely taught in English and jointly operated by the University of Lille (France), Uppsala University (Sweden), the University of Minho (Portugal) and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece). The Pangea master is aimed at meeting the international demand for qualified geoscience graduates with dedicated training and experience in fundamental and applied palaeontology, including geoconservation and geoheritage.In addition to academic formation, and due to the necessity for integration of expertise, student will also benefit from the involvement of third level institutions and industries (e.g. Geopark Famenne-Ardenne; geological surveys, TOTAL S.A.), and non-European universities (Nevada, Louisiana, USA; Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Russia, Sonora, Mexico) with the goal of a coordinated educational programme to prepare a future generation of system-oriented natural scientists. These partners are committed to the programme and have provided input into its content to better reflect their needs as potential employers.Paleontology is a multidisciplinary science which spans two major natural sciences: geosciences (mostly stratigraphy, sedimentology and basin analysis) and biology (population biology, ecology, evolution). The goal of the master is, after a first term of strengthening the student's background, to specialize in basic research in palaeobiology, applied palaeontology (stratigraphy, basin analysis and reservoir, environmental paleontology), and science communication, focusing on geoheritage.

Full details of the programme are available at:

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. There are no tuition fees. 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:

MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity: Imperial College London, Department of Life Sciences

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

Entry requirements:

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:

MSc in Taxonomy & Biodiversity Webiste | Prospectus Website

Course Administrator: Jennifer Bennett Telephone: +44 (0)20 7594 2170 e-mail:

Masters in Geobiology & Paleobiology: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

The Master's programme "Geobiology and Palaeobiology" (MGAP) is a consecutive, research-oriented, tuition-free, four-semester, international Master's programme of the Faculty of Geosciences, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), in collaboration with researchers at the Bavarian State collections, under the umbrella of the GeoBio-Center LMU.

MGAP aims to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to the interdisciplinary research fields of Geobiology and Palaeobiology and facilitates early independent research to prepare them for careers in science and beyond. Our graduates frequently secure prestigious PhD-positions or continue in highly respected positions outside of academia.

The module-based curriculum provides an integrative approach facilitated by experts with different areas of expertise. The degree programme consists of a set of mandatory modules and elective modules. Students will learn and acquire skills in a wide range of scientific methods, such as modern techniques in molecular biology, including genomics and transcriptomics, geomicrobiology, fieldwork, collection management, bioinformatics, statistics, and (palaeo-)biodiversity assessments. The programme includes independent scientific work in individual and intensively supervised research projects at early stages of the curriculum, with topics ranging from organismic palaeobiology to genomics, phylogenomics, molecular systematics, biomineralisation, as well as geomicrobiology of the deep biosphere.

The programme consists of 120 credits, 30 of which are assigned for the Master's thesis and its defence.

Details on the following website:

International Master’s Degree in Palaeobiology at Opole University

The Master’s programme consists of four semesters with 30 credit points (ECTS) each. It will be organised in modules and based on an e-learning platform with periodic meetings every three weeks for 4-6 days, and with summer research workshops. 

Our programme is of great interest; first and foremost because it is based on the study of Biology but has the specialisation of Palaeobiology – such a combination is rare these days. It includes both biological and geological disciplines, and, certainly, purely palaeobiological subjects as well. If your BSc diploma in geology based you have the possibility to compensate for the lack of biological knowledge and vice versa because for biologists we also propose a wide range of geological items. Then, and that is very useful for your scientific future, you can exchange your views and share your experiences with your fellow students who have entered different specialisations in the past. You will be able to have joint discussions and even organise scientifically integrative groups for better results within your own studies. 

The Institute of Biology has ample experience in providing the study of biology, while the Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Evolution has been providing palaeobiological courses within this programme during the last 15 years, ever since the unique palaeontological discovery of the Triassic site of Krasiejów, a village near Opole, was made. The enormous palaeontological potential of this location is already widely known, having been the subject of numerous scientific publications as well as of BA, MA and PhD theses. In addition, new palaeontological sites near Opole or even within the city limits have become part of our research. To name a few: Lower and Middle Triassic sediments with numerous vertebrate and invertebrate taxa, Middle Jurassic and Upper Cretaceous (Turonian–Coniacian) strata with mainly marine fauna. In short: there is no need for you to travel to other places in Europe or even further beyond to collect the study material for your scientific research. Furthermore, a detailed geological study of this area, as well as a stratigraphical synthesis, are already available, so that we concentrate mostly on palaeobiology and geobiology with emphasis on palaeoecological, taphonomic and palaeobiogeographical aspects without any barriers of collecting materials or determination of its stratigraphical position.  
Our team provides also a lot of different research including vertebrates and invertebrates, morphological and histological studies and others. The information about our team including pictures can be found at the following website:

Full details of the programme are available at: and

MSc in Geology by Research: Royal Holloway, University of London, Department of Geology

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

More general enquires may be directed to our postgraduate administrator Lynne White (

Masters in Paleobiology and Fossil Record: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The master’s degree in Paleobiology is designed to be undertaken over one academic year, divided in two semesters. The structure of studies means that students have to study 30 obligatory in person ECTS, 20 of which are taught during the first semester, and 10 during the second semester.
The course is optional in nature and allows for the choice of subjects related to both Marine and Continental Paleobiology (modules 3 and 4, respectively, both 15 ECTS). On this master’s degree, classes are taught during the first semester and the number of teaching hours will be exactly the same for both modules, the difference being limited to the content of the teaching programmes of the respective specializations.

Finally a master’s degree thesis must be undertaken, equivalent to 15 ECTS tutored by one of the teachers, for students to complete the studies of the master’s degree. This must be an original research work in which the students show they have successfully acquired the skills and concepts dealt with during the course. The master’s degree thesis must be undertaken during the second semester. Exceptionally students may be allowed to undertake and defend their master’s degree thesis during the first semester, if they have satisfactorily finished the rest of the modules and if for some reason they had not been able to do so during the second semester of the year before.

Full details of the programme are available at:

MSc in Micropaleontology:  University of Birmingham, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Our Micropalaeontology MSc will give you rigorous training in Micropalaeontology, documenting the patterns of evolution in major microfossil groups and their wide-ranging applications from petroleum geosciences through to palaeoenvironmental/climate reconstructions.

Research-led teaching will provide you with exciting opportunities to carry out your own cutting-edge research projects. You will be taught by experts from one of the largest micropaleontology research groups in the UK and by industry professionals. External partners that contribute to this course include Shell, CGG, Petrostrat and Network Stratigraphic, as well as bodies such as the Natural History MuseumBritish Geological Survey and the Lapworth Museum of Geology.

You will gain sought-after skills that will enable you to forge a career in a range of geoscience disciplines and related industries, from petroleum to engineering to climate change mitigation, as well as a host of generic transferable skills. From data analysis and problem solving to communication and team-working, these skills are highly valued by employers and will enhance your employability in a competitive job market.

This course will provide you with the experience necessary to develop a career as a professional micropalaeontologist, whether engaged in research, teaching, or as a biostratigrapher in the energy or engineering sectors.

Full details of the programme are available at: For more information please contact Dr Ian Boomer

MSc in Palaeobiology: University of Bristol, Department of Earth Sciences

The Bristol MSc in Palaeobiology is the longest-established and most successful Masters programme of its kind in the world. Since it was founded in 1996, there have been over 350 graduates and many have gone on to secure excellent jobs around the world. The student cohort is diverse with students from across the globe. The programme is unique in the success of students in research and the number of projects that result in published papers.

The programme is designed for students with degrees in Biological or Earth Sciences and related subjects, and primer courses in Evolutionary Biology and Geology are offered for students who lack background in either of these areas. The MSc offers a broad-based overview of modern approaches in palaeobiology. Students study a variety of core and optional units in topics ranging from Micropalaeontology to Vertebrate Palaeontology and Biomechanics and there is a strong emphasis on advanced methods, with units such as Macroevolution and Phylogenetic Methods. Full details of the programme structure are available here.

The course includes 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 a publishable form. So far, around 150 MSc projects have been published – all in leading international journals – and we support as many students as possible to publish. Students receive training in writing scientific papers and applying for PhDs and jobs (both in the UK and overseas). Many graduates have gone on to have rewarding careers in fields such as museum curation, education, outreach, media, science policy and academic research.

More information about the course and its current and former students are available on the course website and details of how to apply are here. For any enquiries please email (programme director) or (admin team).

MScR in Palaeontology and Geobiology: University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences

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.

For more information, prospective students contact the two programme co-directors: Dr Steve Brusatte ( and Prof Rachel Wood ( 

MSc in Palaeontology-Palaeoclimatology: University of Lille, Department of Earth Science

The objective of the programme is to train students to answer questions of interest to both academia (palaeobiology, climate change), industry (resource exploration in sedimentary basins), and geoconservation. Special attention is paid to integrating fundamental and applied aspects of palaeontology. During the Programme, students will be given the opportunity to follow courses such as Applications of Palaeontology, Geoconservation, Introduction to and Advanced Micropalaeontology, Quantitative Palaeontology, Phylogenetics, Statistics (including initiation to R), Geobiology, Palaeoclimatology, Biochronology and Sedimentology-Sequence Stratigraphy, and fieldtrips. The second term, first year, includes a 6 ECTS research project or work placement, and the fourth term is fully dedicated to a Masters thesis that can be prepared either in Lille or in partner universities abroad. 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 non-academic specialists. 

The 2-years Master programme (120 European Credits, ECTS), taught in English, is available to students with a Licence, 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). 

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 Italy (Pisa), Sweden (Uppsala), and Russia (Novossibirsk).

Further details available from:

Ass. Prof Sébastien Clausen (

MPhil in Palaeontology: University of Manchester, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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:


    MSc in Palaeobiology: University of Uppsala, Department of Earth Sciences

    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 and here 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: If you have any questions or want more details please contact the Study Counsellor at the department:  

    International Masters in Geosciences: Palaeobiology: University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

    The acute theme of global climate change and its impact on organisms and ecosystems requires a new generation of scientists. We provide theoretical concepts of macroecology and macroevolution, as well as statistical techniques and scientific programming in palaeobiology. The second pillar of this specialisation is the reconstruction of fossil environments and their local and global controls. We focus on 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. 

    Our goal is to help students become internationally competitive in palaeobiology and science-related fields.

    The Masters programme consists of four semesters with 30 credit points (ECTS) each. In addition to compulsory courses, students can choose supplementary activities, including language classes or additional field excursions. The last semester is dedicated to the Masters thesis. Supplementary courses (SC) include field trips, language courses, and transferable skills.

    Full details of the programme are available at: For more information contact Dr Emilia Jarochowska

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