Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

SOES1016 The Living Earth Non-GY

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe and explain the significance of major events in the history of life, and their causes/consequences for the Earth and its environment.
  • Understand and explain the role of biological processes during the evolution of the Earth system.
  • Identify fossilized organisms and how they become preserved in the rock record.
  • Generic Skills: Pattern recognition and the application of simple graphical methods to the interpretation of multiple datasets.
  • Subject-Specific Skills: an understanding of Earth System history and how specific groups of fossils can both be used to date the rock record and act as proxies that can be used to interpret past environmental conditions and perturbations.


The Big Picture: the module content will span the entirety of Earth history, progressing form the formation of the Solar System to a projection of Earth’s future several billion years from now. We will explore the relationship between physical, chemical, geological and biological factors through time, covering topics that will examine how internal/intrinsic factors (e.g., changes in plate tectonics, the atmosphere, oceans and climate) and external/extrinsic factors (e.g., meteorite impacts, etc.) have driven evolution and extinction, and how various global systems and cycles have developed through geological time. This will be achieved by exploring key events in Earth history, which will include amongst other things: the origin of life, Snowball Earth, the appearance of the first multi-celled animals, the assembly of the Britain Isles, the invasion of the land by plants and animals, the five great extinction events (including The Great Dying and the end-Cretaceous demise of the dinosaurs), post-extinction biotic development, the evolution of hominids, through to the conditions that will be experienced on the near- and far-future Earth. There will be one practical class which will explain the different ways in which living organisms can leave behind a record of their former existence in the geological record, and that same practical session will introduce the coursework exercise for the module.

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 objective and learning outcomes for each lecture are provided in advance on the Blackboard website for this module, as will the Powerpoint presentations for those wanting to preview the material. Where relevant, lecturers' own research experience in the appropriate fields is brought into the lecturing sessions. Background reading material and links to other appropriate media resources will also be available via the Blackboard website. The practical classes will be : interactive and supported by staff and post-graduate demonstrators. The session utilise a 'flipped learning' technique, where you will be required to run through introductory material prior to attending the practical. The session will involve the examination of a series of different fossils introducing different biological groups of organisms, and also fossils that have been preserved in different ways. The session will also include a formative exercise introducing the techniques that will be used to complete the coursework exercise for this module – utilising Shaw’s Graphic Correlation Method. Access to the practical material is available via the Blackboard site for the module for independent work after the session in the form of online resources. Academic support: you are encouraged to discuss any aspect of the module with staff (both lecturer and post-graduate demonstrators [the latter for the practical classes]). A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study124
Practical classes and workshops2
Total study time150



Weekly online exercises


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Theory examination 70%


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


There are no additional costs associated with this module.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings