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The University of Southampton

SOES2032 Palaeobiology

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate some of the current issues in palaeontology
  • Understand the significance of taphonomy
  • Relate morphology to function
  • Make simple palaeoecological deductions in the field.
  • Handling numerical data on evolution & extinction
  • Interpreting fossil form & assemblages
  • Ability to relate type of preservation to palaeoenvironmental conditions.


Evolution: the problems of origin, radiation, functional adaptation and extinction of fossil groups. Taphonomy: examples of exceptional preservation and their significance for the evolutionary and palaeo-ecological record. Palaeoecology: significance and use of fossils in environmental interpretation, palaeoecological methods. Functional morphology: dynamics of flight and swimming in extinct reptiles. Evolution of flight. Interpretation and handling of data, morphology and evolution in selected groups, e.g. trilobites, cephalopods, brachiopods, bivalves, pterosaurs and dinosaurs.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal lectures: will cover the main topics of evolution, taphonomy, palaeoecology, and functional morphology. Practical classes & demonstrations: will exemplify theory and allow you to develop appropriate practical skills. The practical classes are fully interactive allowing you hands-on experience of examining specimens, etc. under laboratory conditions. Fieldwork during a one-day fieldcourse: you will develop your investigative skills, by relating types of preservation to palaeoenvironmental conditions. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study94
Practical classes and workshops27
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 50%
Assessment 50%

Linked modules

(SOES1008 and SOES1009) or BIOL2001


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

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