Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Life on Earth
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Written assessed practical workbook  50%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   Online, unseen QMP examination  Questions will be varied, and will include short answer questions based around text, graphical, diagrammatic or numerical information  50%
Supplementary Assessment Written assessed practical workbook  50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Online, unseen QMP examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Outline the evolution of life on planet Earth on a geological time scale

2. Assess major palaeoclimatological, tectonic and extraterrestrial events that influenced the evolution of life.

3. Identify and describe fossil specimens of flora and fauna from various periods of Earth’s history

Brief description

This module will explore the evolution of life on planet Earth and its relationship to palaeoclimate change and major geological events. Module content will cover the Proterozoic evolution of the early atmosphere and the development of single-celled and multi-celled organisms, the rapid diversification of fauna and flora throughout the Palaeozoic, the reign and demise of the dinosaurs during the Mesozoic, and early hominin evolution. The module will discuss these developments in relation to global atmospheric changes, changing continental configurations, icehouse-greenhouse transitions and mass extinction events, and outline how these changes are recorded in the rock and fossil record.


Lectures will cover the following themes:
1) Earth’s early atmosphere and the origin of life
2) Early Palaeozoic radiation
3) Late Palaeozoic diversification
4) Mesozoic marine life and dinosaurs
5) Mass extinctions: the big five
6) Cenozoic cooling and hominid evolution
7) The Anthropocene
These lecture themes will be accompanied by practical classes examining relevant fossil specimens and their morphological evolution over geological time.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Students will be encouraged to communicate through question and answer sessions in the lectures, and encouraged to work within small groups during practical exercises, including sharing and discussing fossil specimens.
Improving own Learning and Performance The practical component of the course will present a new learning environment for many students, where they will need to adapt to a more independent and self-directed learning style. Completing a practical workbook over the course of the semester will require careful self-management skills. This component will also require sharing resources with other students on the course, fostering team-working skills which will benefit their adaptability and resilience in future group-working and group-learning environments, as well as being valuable soft skills for their wider life and career beyond the university.
Information Technology Students will have the opportunity to engage with online-hosted quiz software to assess their learning development throughout the course. Additional reading is integral to the module and alongside provision of reading lists, students will be expected to use information technology to search for relevant online or hard copy material.
Personal Development and Career planning Formative feedback on practical workbooks will be given throughout the module, where students can use the feedback to reflect on their performance and how to ensure they align with the learning objectives of the module. Formative exam-style questions will be introduced during the lectures so that students can assess their own learning progress against the exam expectations. Students will deal with a range of contemporary themes relevant to some of today's key global challenges e.g. climate change, biodiversity loss, ecosystem resilience to external stressors.
Problem solving The ability to recognize and interpret different fossil specimens will provide key problem solving skills within the fields of palaeontology, stratigraphy and sedimentology. Throughout both the lectures and practicals, students will need to interpret the significance of fossils in the context of the evolution of life, major geological events and palaeoclimate change.
Research skills The module will develop palaeontology, stratigraphy, geochronology and palaeoclimatology skills, and encourage students to critically assess how these fields interlink. Students will develop subject specific analysis skills related to observing, drawing and describing fossil specimens, and are encouraged to critically analyze common/unusual features of each specimen compared to others in the teaching set, as well as wider fossil groups cited in the literature. Engagement with the wider literature is essential to foster these skills.
Subject Specific Skills Upon successful completion of this module, students will have a solid background in Earth evolution, geochronology, palaeontology, and palaeoclimate change. These themes are integral to any earth science/geology career path, while understanding of palaeoclimate change is fundamental to understanding current climate change debates and associated job requirements in this growing field.
Team work Small group work will be an integral part of the practical classes.


This module is at CQFW Level 4