Master’s studies

Syllabus for Origin and Evolution of the Vertebrates

Vertebraternas uppkomst och utveckling


  • 15 credits
  • Course code: 1PA042
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Earth Science A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), 3, 4, 5
  • Established: 2012-03-08
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Revised: 2013-09-05
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: week 30, 2014
  • Entry requirements: 120 credits with 90 credits within earth science or biology. Principles of Palaeobiology, 15 credits, Origin and Early Evolution of Life, 15 credits, or Evolution and development, 15 credits, is recommended.
  • Responsible department: Department of Earth Sciences

Learning outcomes

After passing the course the student should be able to

  • describe the systematic and geological context of vertebrate evolution
  • explain key changes in vertebrate diversity, adaptational morphology, and radiation/extinction cycles
  • recognise the palaeobiological framework for historical biodiversity, climate change impacts, and modern species conservation
  • collate, evaluate and present scientific data derived from original fossils
  • undertake comparative analyses of quantitative datasets
  • develop methodologies for presenting research results both verbally and in writing


Research-oriented approach to vertebrate systematics, functional morphology and palaeoecology. Emphasis is placed upon major vertebrate radiations as tools for understanding macroevolutionary processes including the origins of key structures and environmental interplay in important radiation and extinction events. Practical study methods for the identification and analysis of fossil material. Supervised individual research project which is presented verbally and in writing.


Lectures, seminars, practicals, and supervised individual projects. Participation in all course components, apart from lectures, is compulsory.


The examination comprises an individual research project (8 credits) presented both in a written scientific article format, and as two oral presentations. Satisfactory completion of the mandatory seminars, written exercises, and group activities (7 credits).

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 30, 2014