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Unit information: Micropalaeontology in 2021/22

Unit name Micropalaeontology
Unit code EASCM0040
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Professor. Schmidt
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will cover the biology and ecology of the main fossilised microfossil in the Cenozoic. It will introduce major biological approaches used to quantify and understand the Earth System. These include the use of microfossils in reconstructing paleo-temperatures, water depth, productivity and oxygen levels in the ocean. These methods will be applied to major transitions in Earth history (e.g. Pliocene warmth, Paleocene-Eocene Boundary), and main drivers of climate change (temperature, oxygen, acidification). The aim is to introduce students to uncertainties in reconstructing past climates and limitations of the methods.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion you will be able to:

  • Identify the major microfossil groups and outline the basic biology of marine microfossils
  • Demonstrate understanding of the ecological distribution of living groups can be extended to exploit the palaeoecological significance of their fossil counterparts
  • Critically evaluate reconstructions of ocean conditions and climates, including uncertainties and limitations.
  • Understand the contribution of past climate change events to our current climate change debate
  • Perform first steps of paleoecologically and stratigraphic reconstruction.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials and, if subsequently possible, synchronous face-to-face lectures
  • synchronous office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative activities and exercises
  • guided, structured reading
  • practical work in the laboratory

Students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete laboratory work, or alternative activities, in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Information

Coursework (100%)

The coursework will be a literature review report in the style of a review paper (2,500 word maximum), on a topic that will be given to students at the beginning of the unit. Topics will be broad and incorporate the content of the course.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EASCM0040).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.