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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Palaeontology and Sedimentology (EASC10106)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryPalaeontology coupled with advanced sedimentology (carbonates, clastics and chemical sediments), supported by practicals and locally based half-day fieldtrips.
Course description The course covers selected aspects of palaeontology and sedimentology as two on-going strands during semester 1. These are essentially two different subject areas that are brought together by means of integrated fieldwork. The sedimentology component will build on second year course material, whereas the palaeontology component will be introductory.
The palaeontology and sedimentology stands will achieve effective synergy in the context of the four dedicated halfday fieldtrips to Palaeozoic rocks in the vicinity of Edinburgh.

Note: experience with the use of the optical microscope for mineral and rock identification is required for this course.

***Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including security risks or inability to access field locations. Any changes to the main destination of the field course will be announced as soon as possible.***
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Global Tectonics and the Rock Cycle (EASC08020)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 14, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 42, Fieldwork Hours 36, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 101 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment Details
Overall assessment is 50% from Palaeontology component and 50% from Sedimentology component. Additionally, the overall assessment is 50% from a written final exam (in which palaeontology and sedimentology questions are combined in one paper) and 50% from coursework.
Detailed breakdown of assessment:
*Final written exam, palaeontology questions: 25% of course mark. Two questions, students answer both.
*Final written exam, sedimentology questions: 25% of course mark. Two questions, one each from RW and SH¿s components of the course, students answer both.
*Palaeontology fieldtrip report: 20% of course mark. Palaeontology group presentation: 5% of course mark. Details: palaeontology coursework is a written report and group presentation based on one of the four fieldtrips. The course will be divided into groups: at least one group for each fieldtrip site. Each individual will write a report on their group¿s site, of a total of ca. 1500 words, which includes: 1) a brief background on the age, location (ca. 100-200 words), and importance of the site; 2) a summary of the sedimentology of the site (ca. 500 words); 3) a description of five fossils you found at the site, with a drawing or photograph for each, an identification of what the fossils are, and a description of major anatomical features and biological habits (ca. 800-900 words). Each group will work together to prepare and a deliver a 15-minute powerpoint presentation on their site, describing its age, sedimentology, importance, major fossils, palaeoenvironment, regional geological setting and any other relevant information. Be creative! The individual reports will be handed in on that same day as the presentations (as above). Please note that if fieldtrips are unable to proceed, an alternative essay-based assessment and groupwork-based assessment will be substituted.
*Sedimentology practical exam: 25% of course mark. The class practical exam is a 20-minute test on the practical material of the sedimentological part of the course to be held in the scheduled practical class time.
Please note that if fieldtrips are unable to proceed, an alternative essay-based assessment and groupwork-based assessment will be substituted.

Assessment Deadlines
Monday Week 9, Semester 1: Group Presentations
Monday Week 10, Semester 1: Individual Fieldtrip Report due, submission.
Wednesday Week 10, Semester 1: 11.30-12.00 Class Sedimentology Practical Test

Feedback Mock exam question in sedimentology to be set and marked with written feedback: Prepare an essay-style answer to the question: Explain, with the aid of simple diagrams, the sequence stratigraphic concept and the terms that are used to apply this to the sedimentary rock record. Draw on specific geological examples from both the British Isles and elsewhere. Mention any problems with, and limitation of, the sequence-stratigraphic method, in practice. Notes: Write an up to 1500-word essay on the above topic drawing on the lecture material and on related literature. You will need to supplement the course material with your own literature search especially for geological examples. Figures should include brief captions and be referred in the text of your answer. Figures, captions and references do not count to the word total. References consulted should be listed briefly at the end. The answers will be marked and you will receive feedback with the aim of improving your degree exam answers. Answers to be handed in to the Grant Institute TO by 12:00 pm on Wednesday 16th November.

Discussion during fieldtrips; verbal and written feedback on the assessed group presentations after the fieldtrips.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Show a good understanding of the occurrence and geological relevance of key fossil groups
  2. Show a good understanding of key geological processes and settings involved in the formation and diagenesis of carbonate sediments, chemical sediments and siliciclastic sediments with emphasis on practical and field context and integration with palaeontology.
  3. Integrate aspects of palaeontology and sedimentology in the context of the geological development if the Palaeozoic of the Edinburgh area.
Reading List

1. Benton, M.J. and Harper, D.A.T, 2009, Basic Palaeontology: Introduction to Paleobiology and the fossil record, Wiley-Blackwell (this will be the main course textbook and is required reading)

2. Clarkson, E.N.K, 2001, Invertebrate palaeontology and evolution, Wiley-Blackwell (this book will be most useful in helping to identify major fossil groups)

3. Michael J Benton, 2014, Vetebrate Palaeontology, Wiley-Blackwell (this book is for background reading related to the vertebrate palaeontology lectures)

4. Stephen L. Brusatte, 2012, Dinosaur Paleobiology, Wiley-Blackwell (this book is for background reading related to the vertebrate palaeontology lectures)

Basic text-good for catch-up and basic information:

Tucker ME, Sedimentary Petrology: An Introduction, Blackwell

Nichols, G, Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, Blackwell (Advanced text- good for third year reference)

Leeder MR, Sedimentology and Sedimentary Basins: from Turbulence to Tectonics, Blackwell Science

Reading HG, Sedimentary Environments and Facies, Blackwell

Tucker ME and Wright VP, Carbonate Sedimentology, Blackwell
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Stephen Brusatte
Tel: (0131 6)50 6039
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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