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Unit information: Current Controversies in Palaeobiology and Macroevolution in 2021/22

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.


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. EASCM0001).

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.