University of Bristol

University of Bristol


This research-oriented course offers advanced coverage of quantitative aspects of the fossil record and the history of life. The programme bridges the biology geology divide, and will provide you with a strong background for independent research to PhD level or for a career in museums, libraries, management, or the media. This programme covers early life, dinosaurs, mass extinctions, macroevolution, fossil preservation, and understanding the palaeobiology of extinct organisms. You will engage in current debates in evolutionary biology, systematics and palaeobiology. You will study how to analyse problems quantitatively, and design experimental approaches to resolving questions in macroevolution and in the study of ancient organisms. First hand training in research methods in palaeobiology involves laboratory techniques. In addition, you will learn a range of advanced skills throughout the programme, such as computer software use, numeracy, planning research, problem-solving and communication skills. You will learn multimedia techniques, including presentation of palaeontological data through talks, posters and formal written reports. A key aspect of the programme is that you prepare your projects for publication, and we provide continuing support to ensure as many projects are published as possible in leading international journals.

Entry requirements

An upper 2nd Class Honours degree (or international equivalent) in geology, biological sciences, environmental sciences, archaeology, anthropology, or a related discipline.

Course modules

Core modules: current controversies in palaeobiology and macroevolution; scientific communication; phylogenetic methods in palaeobiology; literature review; research methods in palaeobiology; plus optional units; biomechanics and functional morphology; early human origins; evolutionary biology (mandatory for non-biologists); evolution of the biosphere; geology for research palaeobiologists(mandatory for non-geologists); marine record of past climate change; vertebrate palaeobiology and evolution.


Qualification Study mode Fee Course duration
MSc Full-time - 1 years
MSc Part-time - 2 years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Tyndall Avenue, Bristol Bristol BS8 1TH South West

Key information

Postgraduate Admissions Team
Telephone number: 
0117 954 5400