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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonPostgraduate study

MRes Vertebrate Palaeontology - 1 yr(s)

The Master of Research is a minimum of one and maximum of five year programme comprising mainly of research, but also containing taught modules exclusively delivered at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS).

The MRes in Vertebrate Palaeontology is designed for graduates of biology, geology, environmental science and other relevant numerate disciplines, and offers you the chance to build on the background of your undergraduate degree, while allowing advanced specialisation in vertebrate palaeontology.

Introducing your degree

This is the course page for MRes Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Southampton. Find out everything about Vertebrate Palaeontology and what studying here involves.

In this course page we explain a range of key information about the course. This includes typical entry requirements, modules you can take and how assessment works. We also suggest career opportunities open to you as a University of Southampton graduate of MRes Vertebrate Palaeontology.

If you still have questions, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any enquiries. See our contact us page for our telephone, email and address information.

Programme Overview

The programme is taught by staff from OES and Biological Sciences. Cutting edge research carried out by academic staff provides direct and enthusiastic input into a challenging and stimulating teaching programme. There are unique opportunities for you to undertake research projects with OES and Biological Sciences scientists.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

You can apply through the University of Southampton's online postgraduate application system. You can find out more here.


For all enquiries, email or telephone +44 (0)23 8059 6043.

Programme tutor: Dr Gareth Dyke.

Email Dr Gareth Dyke

Programme Structure

For students studying the MRes in Vertebrate Palaeontology, the spectrum of programmes within Ocean and Earth Sciences and through our collaborations with Biological Sciences and Aeronautics and Astronautics in Southampton are all scientifically exciting and challenging, as well as highly relevant to the modern world. Within this particular programme of study we aim to develop and enhance your knowledge of and enthusiasm for vertebrate evolutionary biology, anatomy, phylogenetics and biomechanics.

By the end of your MRes programme you will have extended your subject-specific and more generic skills beyond the level of your undergraduate degree. This will be partially the result of further instruction during the programme, but also will be a direct result of the application and practice of your skills during your research project and the practical elements of your studies. Additionally you will have developed research skills of sufficient depth to produce work which is publishable in refereed scientific literature.

Key Facts

MRes Vertebrate Palaeontology brochure
MRes and PhD students excavate a dinosaur skeleton at the Borborek site in Transylvania on our research group fieldtrip 2013
Borberek 2013
Reseach trip, Transylvania 2014. Brought together 12 vertebrate palaeontology students with Romanian friends/collaborators.
Romania 2014
University of Southampton students (from left) Chris Laurent, Zoe Holbrook and Tracy Vorisek prepare fossils at the Sebes Municipal Museum
Fossil preparation

Why study Vertebrate Palaeontology?

  • You will study in one of the UK's leading Earth science departments
  • Join an active research group who contribute to world-leading studies
  • NOCS is near several sites of global importance for vertebrate palaeontology including the IOW and Jurassic Fossil Coast

Further reading

  • The Evolution of flight. A study into the aerodynamic performance of feathered dinosaurs has provided new insight into the evolution of bird flight. Find out more

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Selection process

You will need to have, to expect to have, a good (2:1 or equivalent) Honours degree in biology, geology, environmental science or a similar subject.

Applications are considered throughout the year; most candidates will be invited to interview to discuss the programme in more detail.
Visit our International Office website or the NARIC website for further information on international qualifications.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

All students must take two compulsory modules: an introductory module that will provide a background to the major lineages, anatomy and evolutionary relationships of fossil vertebrates (15 credit points) and a module that covers key literature on a variety of “key contemporary topics” in vertebrate evolution, systematics, general palaeontology and evolutionary biology (15 credit points). You will follow a specific pathway. The tables below indicate which modules should be taken for each pathway.

Year 1

Only one optional module is to be taken.

All Students will also be encouraged to attend, and audit, the following Semester 2 courses:
BIOL 2001 Evolution and BIOL 3010 Topics in ecology and evolution.

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Learning & Assessment

Study locations

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