Skip to main content

Unit information: Current Controversies in Palaeobiology and Macroevolution in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Current Controversies in Palaeobiology and Macroevolution
Unit code EASCM0001
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1B (weeks 7 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Mike Benton
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

The purpose of this unit is to discuss and debate controversial areas in palaeobiology. The main aims are:

  • to improve your knowledge of controversial subject areas;
  • to improve your communication skills, particularly in oral presentations, and;
  • to encourage independent assessment of the evidence for competing hypotheses.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes of this unit include the ability to:

  • Use the literature and internet to research competing hypotheses.
  • Give oral presentations
  • Debate controversial areas of palaeobiology in group discussions.
  • Write short written reports summarising the scientific issues.
  • Think through analytically the key strengths and weaknesses of opposing viewpoints

Teaching Information

Lectures and discussion sessions.

Assessment Information

There is no theory exam. Students will be divided into 5 groups. One group will give presentations each week in the discussion session. All students are expected to research the subject, contribute towards the group discussion, and hand in a report from two of the weeks in which they are not presenting.

Assessment is based on two selected written reports (50%) and the presentation (50%). Up to 10% of the presentation marks will be awarded based on your general level of participation in discussions, which will be assessed each week and then averaged.

Reading and References

No specific course text is required. Appropriate references will be provided each week on the controversy being covered, after the lecture.