THE UNIVERSITY of EDINBURGH

DEGREE REGULATIONS & PROGRAMMES OF STUDY 2022/2023

Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Topics in Palaeobiology and Evolution (EASC10100)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course is designed to introduce you to key topics in evolutionary palaeobiology, with an emphasis of active research topics being undertaken in the School of GeoSciences. We wish you to engage with research level scientific thinking and scholarship by becoming familiar with the primary literature; honing your skills of synthesis, analysis, and critical thinking; and presenting your work to your fellow students using posters and talks in a professional setting.
Course description This course will deepen understanding of the evolution of life over time and how scientists study fossils, the fossil record, and evolution in deep time. The focus will be on cutting edge palaeontological and geobiological research topics and controversies, particularly those that are being researched by Edinburgh-based scientists. The first five course sessions will each focus on a particular integrative topic. Students will be given a selection of primary literature to read before each session. The session will begin with a short lecture on the week's topic, in which the subject is described, the work being actively undertaken in Edinburgh is summarised, and the primary methods used to the study the topic are outlined. Following the lecture there will be a discussion of the lecture and literature readings, which will then be followed by either a practical exercise in which students get first-hand experience with the research techniques discussed in the lecture, or a group discussion of continuing controversies. Groups and individuals may be asked to make informal oral presentations. The sixth session, if possible under current government guidelines, will be a local fieldtrip in which students identify fossils in the field, use those fossils to reconstruct ancient environments, and produce a field report. The date for the field trip will be determined by tide times and mutual convenience.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Pass in Palaeontology and Sedimentology (EASC10106), or equivalent is required.
Additional Costs Costs are to be confirmed. They will be reviewed on a yearly basis and are subject to change. Please be aware that students who are taking this course as an elective will pay full price and not a subsidised fee. Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including security risks, increased costs or inability to access field locations. Any changes to the main destination of the field course will be announced as soon as possible.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesPrior knowledge of palaeontology and sedimentology is required (to be assessed on a case by case basis).
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  21
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 16/01/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 16, Fieldwork Hours 8, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 74 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 0%, Course Work: 100 %, Practical Exam: 0%.

You will be assessed by two pieces of work:
Poster and short accompanying talk (50%); Presentation approx. 10 minutes (50%).
Marks will follow the common marking scheme:
http://www.ed.ac.uk/student-administration/exams/regulations/common-marking-scheme
But see below for additional criteria
All details related to extensions procedures and late penalties can be found in the above.
http://www.ed.ac.uk/files/atoms/files/taughtassessmentregulations.pdf
Assessment Deadlines
Poster ¿ Week 6, Presentations ¿ Week 8.

Here are details of the course timetable, and assessment information.

The course consists of five class sessions, and a 0.5 day fieldtrip (if possible). Class sessions are held on a Friday, 9-12 am.

Primary literature will be provided before each topical session. These will be uploaded on LEARN. Please read this ahead of each session.

Fieldtrip (if possible under current government guidelines):

The fieldtrip will be to Wardie, near Granton. The trip will probably take place in late January or early February. The date and time will be set as soon as possible following consultation of the tide tables and discussion so that all can attend. As the outcrop is a tidal platform, it can only be accessed during low tides; for that reason, we are not able to name a specific date for the fieldtrip until we can consult tidal tables in mid-January.

We will meet on the Wardie Pier (at the south end of the pier, where it meets Lower Granton Road); on many road and survey maps the Wardie Pier is labelled as ¿Eastern Breakwater¿, and it can easily be reached by the 8 or the 16 bus routes.

What do bring: warm and waterproof clothes, field boots, notebook, camera, tape measure/measuring stick, scale.
What to study beforehand: We will be providing you with some introductory literature of this famous locality. This will be uploaded on LEARN.
If unable to run the fieldtrip: If it is not possible under current government guidelines to run a fieldtrip to Wardie, we will explore the possibility of either visiting individually, or a virtual fiedtrip, or the same exercise (poster) without visiting the locality.

Details of Assessment
You will be assessed by two pieces of work: 1) Poster based on the Fieldtrip, and 2) Presentation.

1) Wardie summary given as a poster - 50%. 9-12 am, Friday week 6

The poster should be A1 size: 594 x 841 mm. Landscape or Portrait.

Here we would like you to summarise the scientific interest and importance of Wardie. Please use the extensive literature available. If we are able to visit Wardie, either as a group or individually, please also use your own observations such as stratigraphic logs, sedimentology, and fossil material you encounter. Please illustrate with your own figures, photographs, etc.

We are giving you full scope to pursue any aspect of this fieldsite you find interesting. For example this might be the nature of the fish assemblage, the sedmentological setting, the geochemistry of the rocks. This is in the spirit of independent research¿giving you the flexibility to choose what interests and inspires you, and presenting that to the rest of the class through your poster.

Important collections of fossils from Wardie are curated at the National Museum of Scotland¿s storehouse in Granton. In previous years, students have been able to visit the storehouse by arranging a time for a group visit with the curator, Dr Stig Walsh (s.walsh@nms.ac.uk). As this visit is dependent on both government guidelines and Dr Walsh¿s schedule, we cannot guarantee it, and it will be up to the students themselves to organize and contact Dr Walsh should a visit be requested.

Use any format to feel is appropriate. There are many templates available to download.
A good poster will be visually attractive, with a pleasing and clear layout, good use of colour, illustrations and figures, and not too much text. Using boxes to contain sets of information often works well. Small font size should be avoided. Remember to cite all images, or quotes, that are not your own.

In addition to following the common marking scheme, we will be looking for:

1) a concise summary of the specific area you choose to summarise at an advanced, research level,
2) how future work might progress this area,
3) a well-organised, visually appealing poster of the style of a professional research conference (the same style as the many research posters lining the hallways of the Grant Institute, which should be consulted as examples of good practice).



In addition to adhering to the criteria in the common marking scheme, we will mark the exercise in terms of:
1) Visually attractive, with a clear layout, good use of colour, illustrations and figures,
and not too much text,
2) A good choice of topic,
3) Informative introduction, presenting a high level synthesis of the topic,
4) Good analysis of available data,
5) Creativity of thought,
6) Good use of figures and images,
7) Informative and interesting discussion,
8) Good use of up to date and appropriate, primary, literature.

POSTERS: will be presented from 9-12 am, Friday week 6. All must also be uploaded as a pdf via LEARN by 9 am on Friday week 6.

1) Presentation (10-15 Minutes) - 50%. 9-12 am, Friday week 9.
This can be on any topic in Palaeobiology and Evolution, but one where there is continued controversy or uncertainty. You will have to clear your topic with the course team at least one week before the presentation¿this can be done verbally or over email. This is to ensure that your topic is suitable, that there is enough literature to be read and analysed, and that it concerns genuine debate or controversy in the contemporary field of palaeontology.

In your talks we would like you to summarise the key literature, state clearly the existing controversies or uncertainties, and outline what data are required to resolve these issues in the future.

A good talk will be interesting and engaging! Your slides should be visually attractive, with a pleasing and clear layout, and good use of colour, illustrations and figures. Avoid too much text, and small font sizes. Remember to cite all images, or quotes, that are not your own.

In addition to following the common marking scheme, we will be looking for:
1) a concise summary of the research area you choose at an advanced, research level,
2) summary of the controversy or uncertainty,
3) how it might be resolved by future work.

In addition to adhering to the criteria in the common marking scheme, we will mark the exercise in terms of:
1) A good choice of topic,
2) Engaging delivery,
3) Informative introduction, presenting a high level synthesis of the topic,
4) Good analysis of available data, showing a clear understanding of the subject,
5) Creativity of thought,
6) Good use of appropriate figures and images,
7) Informative and interesting discussion,
8) Good use of up to date and appropriate, primary, literature.

Talks will be undertaken individually and be no more than 10 mins long. This will be followed by up to 2 mins of questions. Talks have therefore to be very focused and concise.

Please arrive at 8.45 am so that we can upload your talks before kick-off as we have a very tight schedule!

Your topic needs to be proposed to, and agreed by, the course team by Friday week 6.

TALKS: 9-12 am, Friday week 9. All must also be uploaded as a pdf via LEARN by 9 am on Friday week 9.

Feedback Each course meeting will in large part be discussion based, so there will be constant formative feedback, as well as peer feedback. Students will give presentations and/or posters, and these will be critiqued by fellow students, as well as staff. Verbal and written feedback on both the poster and presentation will be given. The fieldtrip (if possible under current government guidelines) also offers a forum for discussion.

Examples of feedback can be found here: http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/geosciences/teaching-organisation/staff/feedback-and-marking
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a research-level understanding of selected topics from the contemporary palaeontology and evolution literature
  2. Develop skills of literature synthesis and analysis
  3. Develop advanced skills in presentation (verbal and powerpoint slides, and poster)
  4. Acquire and demonstrate skills in techniques to understand biodiversity, evolution, palaeoecology, phylogeny, geochemistry, and/or biochemistry
  5. Acquire integrated palaeontological field skills (if possible under current government guidelines) and biostratigraphy
Reading List
Recommended reading
General texts:
Knoll, A.H., Canfield, D.E., and Konhauser, K O., Editors, 2011. Fundamentals of Gebiology, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester.
Brusatte, S. 2012. Dinosaur Paleobiology, Wiley-Blackwell
Additional primary literature will be provided before each topical session.
http://www.docs.is.ed.ac.uk/docs/library/ResourceLists/Resource_Lists_and_the_Accesible_and_Inclusive_Learning_Policy.pdf
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Presentation skills;
Writing skills;
Critical analysis;
Time management;
Team working;
Additional Class Delivery Information The course consists of four class sessions, and a 0.5 day fieldtrip (if possible).

Primary literature will be provided before each topical session. These will be uploaded on LEARN. Please read this ahead of each session.
KeywordsPalaeontology; geobiology; geochemistry; phylogeny; evolutionary dynamics; the fossil record
Contacts
Course organiserDr Stephen Brusatte
Tel: (0131 6)50 6039
Email: Stephen.Brusatte@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
Email: johan.deklerk@ed.ac.uk
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