Skip to main content

Unit information: Evolutionary Palaeoecology in the field in 2020/21

Unit name Evolutionary Palaeoecology in the field
Unit code EASC30070
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Donoghue
Open unit status Not open
  • EASC10008 Introduction to Field Skills in Earth Sciences
  • BIOL20018 Computational Methods in Biology
  • EASC20047 Stratigraphy and palaeontology fieldwork
  • EASC20029 Introduction to Field Mapping


School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


A field course devoted to palaeontologic, sedimentological and stratigraphic field observations of terrestrial and marine settings. The location of the field course will vary between years.

The unit aims to enable students to acquire the field skills necessary for:

  • Identifying fossil organisms in the field
  • Palaeontological faunal and floral community analysis
  • Discriminating stratigraphic, ecological, and evolutionary controls on the distribution of fossil organisms
  • Taphonomic interpretation of fossil assemblages
  • Palaeoenvironmental and palaeocological interpretation of fossil assemblages

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  • Identify fossil organisms in the field
  • Design and implement a strategy for unbiased sampling of faunal composition
  • Employ computational methods for the comparative analysis of faunal composition
  • Discriminate between factors that constrain the distribution of fossil organisms
  • Undertake effective palaeoenvironmental and palaeoecological analyses

Teaching details

Content will be delivered through synchronous fieldwork and workshops.

Students who cannot engage in field work may be required to complete alternative activities, either during the academic year or subsequently, in order to meet intended learning outcomes of the unit, prepare them for subsequent units and to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Details

Coursework 100%

comprising five assessed fieldwork exercises

The unit mark will be derived from 5 short exercises each based on a separate field excursion. These will involve documentation, analysis and interpretation of sedimentological and palaeontological features observed in various settings. One exercise will be handed in from the field, the other four will be submitted following a consolidation day. Each exercise is worth 20% of the unit mark.

Reading and References


  • Benton MJ and Harper DAT: Introduction to palaeobiology and the fossil record. Wiley-Blackwell
  • Hammer, Ø., Harper, D.A.T., 2006. Paleontological data analysis. Blackwell.