Aims and Objectives
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Understand evidence for and explain the role of changing environments as drivers of evolution and extinction through Earth history.
- Understand evidence for and explain the significance of major environmental transitions in the evolution of the Earth system.
- Understand evidence for and explain the significance of major evolutionary and ecological events in the history of life on Earth.
- Be able to recognise and discuss the importance of key groups of fossil organisms.
- Understand how palaeobiologists and Earth historians combine traditional geological approaches with quantitative methods to make new insights into the evolution and resilience of life of Earth.
In this module we will review the major transitions in the evolution of life on Earth and accompanying changes to Earth’s marine and terrestrial environments. We will discuss key events over the last 4.5 billion years of Earth history, with a focus on the interplay between environmental change and key ecological and evolutionary events. We will use the long-term evolution of life on Earth to review how both classical descriptive geological methods and more recent quantitative techniques have improved our understanding of Earth’s past. As we review these methods, students will become equipped to begin evaluating evidence for how organisms and environments have changed through Earth history. Key events that we will study in this module include (but are not limited to): the origin of life, Snowball Earth, the oxygenation of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere, the appearance of the first multi-cellular animals, the evolution of vertebrates, the invasion of the land by plants and animals, and the five great extinction events (including The Great Dying and the end-Cretaceous demise of the dinosaurs).
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Formal lectures (45 minute lectures): each lecture systematically covers the main concepts and topics by the use of PowerPoint presentations. Key aims and learning outcomes for each lecture are provided in advance on the Blackboard website, as are the Powerpoint presentations for those wanting to preview the material. Background reading material and links to other appropriate media resources will also be available via the Blackboard website.
Practical classes: interactive practical classes are supported by staff and post-graduate demonstrators. Short assessed practical write-ups will accompany the practical classes. These write-ups are designed to review the key learning objectives of the practical material, in the context of ongoing lecture content, and encourage critical scientific thinking about the evidence used to reconstruct evolutionary, ecological and environmental change in geologic time.
Academic support: you are encouraged to discuss any aspect of the course with staff.
A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.
|Practical classes and workshops||34|
|Total study time||150|
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
Repeat type: External