This interdisciplinary MSc programme is for students who are passionate about early life, mass extinctions, macroevolution, climate change and fossil preservation. It bridges the biology-geology divide. You will learn the latest techniques in phylogenetics, biomechanics and macroevolution, providing you with a strong foundation for independent research to PhD level or for a career in museum curation, science education, science policy, management or the media.
Bristol is ranked second in the UK for 'Earth systems and environmental sciences' research (THE analysis of REF 2021) and first in the world for Palaeontology (Center for World University Rankings 2017). You will join Bristol's established palaeobiology research group and engage in current debates in evolution, systematics and palaeobiology. You will learn how to analyse problems quantitatively and design experimental approaches to resolving questions in macroevolution and the study of both ancient and living organisms.
A key aspect of the programme is preparing your research project for publication, and many of our previous students' projects have been published in leading international journals. Recent research project topics include the origin of cellular life, the preservation of colours in dinosaurs and the evolution of culture in humans.
This programme gives you the opportunity to develop a wide range of professional skills, including research planning, problem-solving and communication. You will learn to present palaeontological data through talks, visual displays and formal written reports. You will also develop computing skills in data handling, phylogenetics, macroevolution, function and 3D digital modelling.
Find out more about the programme and hear from current and former students on our Palaeobiology MSc blog.
The first part of the programme consists of lectures, practical classes, tutorials and visiting speakers, designed to provide a firm foundation in the theory and methodology of the subject.
The final part of the programme consists of a research project leading to a written thesis. For further information on research projects in the Palaeobiology Research Group, please see the School of Earth Sciences website.
Visit our programme catalogue for full details of the structure and unit content for our MSc in Palaeobiology.
An upper second-class honours degree or international equivalent in Geology, Biological Sciences, Zoology, Animal Sciences, Botany, Plant Sciences, Ecology, Ecology and Conservation, Marine Biology, Microbiology, Genetics, Environmental Sciences, Archaeology, Anthropology. We will consider applicants who do not have a degree a degree listed above if they have evidence of significant, relevant work experience. If this is the case, applicants should include their CV (curriculum vitae / résumé) when they apply, showing details of their relevant work experience and/or qualifications.
We will consider applicants whose interim grades are currently slightly lower than the programme's entry requirements. We may make these applicants an aspirational offer. This offer would be at the standard level, so the applicant would need to achieve the standard entry requirements by the end of their degree. Specific module requirements may still apply.
We will consider applicants whose grades are slightly lower than the programme's entry requirements, if they have at least one of the following:
- evidence of significant, relevant work experience;
- a relevant postgraduate qualification.
If this is the case, applicants should include their CV (curriculum vitae / résumé) when they apply, showing details of their relevant work experience and/or qualifications.
See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.
Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.Go to admissions statement
Fees and funding
- UK: full-time
- £13,100 per year
- UK: part-time (two years)
- £6,550 per year
- Overseas: full-time
- £29,600 per year
Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.
More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.
£540. Further information about bench fees can be found on our webpages. Confirmation of bench fees will be stated in the offer letter sent to applicants.
The degree is research-based and many of our graduates go on to academic careers, usually starting with a PhD. The MSc is focused on methods and you will learn the latest quantitative and analytical techniques which are highly sought after by PhD supervisors across the world. The training in professional skills, including writing scientific papers, is also highly regarded.
Some students have gone on to careers in museums and now hold senior positions as curators and collection managers in national and regional museums. Other career paths include science policy, the media, science education at all levels, commercial work in marketing, consultancy, industry and computing.