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Unit information: Current Controversies in Palaeobiology and Macroevolution in 2020/21

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Unit name Current Controversies in Palaeobiology and Macroevolution
Unit code EASCM0001
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Dr. Cunningham
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

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
  • synchronous discussion sessions

Assessment Information

Coursework 100%

Formative: Group presentations and discussion each week; a 500 word report of the topic discussed in the first week on which formative feedback will be given.

Summative: A 1500 word report on one of the other four topics.

Reading and References

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