Answering questions about the Earth’s past
Why take this course?
How did dinosaurs become so dominant and why did they disappear so dramatically? What changes allowed life on our planet to leave the seas and begin to populate the land? This course looks at the Earth’s history through the fossil remains left by its past inhabitants and guides you towards answers to these and many more fascinating questions.
What will I experience?
On this course you can:
- Get involved with recent and exciting dinosaur/fossil finds on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere
- Find, extract and examine fossil remains in the field and laboratory
- Reconstruct the lives of fossils with the other organisms that shared their time on our planet
What opportunities might it lead to?
This course is fully accredited by the Geological Society of London, the professional body that oversees geoscience in the UK. It is the first stage of professional development leading to the award of Chartered Geologist status after a period in industry.
We will give you the knowledge and practical skills to ensure an interesting and rewarding career in the specialist area of palaeontology.
Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:
The University of Portsmouth has many opportunities for fieldtrips, with the Jurassic Coast a stone’s throw away.
Daniel Pedrosa, geology student 2012
Apply for September 2016
If you're still considering your options, we’re here to help you make the right decision.
- UCAS Course Code:
- 3 years full time
- 260-300 points to include 2 A levels or equivalent, with 100 points from a single Science subject or 160 points from 2 Science subjects (Applied Science, Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science/Studies, Geography, Geology, Mathematics or Physics). English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5. Other qualifications
UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2016/17 entry: full time: £9,000 p/a*
2016/17 entry: full time: £13,700 p/a**
*tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**tuition fee is subject to annual increase.
+44 (0)23 9284 5550
- School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
- Programme specification
Structure & Teaching
You will receive a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of geoscience.
Core units in this year are:
- How the Earth Works
- Mineralogy and Petrology
- Sedimentology and Palaeontology
- Quantitative Methods
- Science for Earth Systems
- Biodiversity and Evolution
Specialise in the more applied areas of the subject and benefit from fieldwork – a vital component of any geoscience degree.
Core units in this year are:
- Vertebrate Palaeontology
- Sedimentology and Palaeoenvironments
- Palaeontological Techniques
- Palaeobotany, Micropalaeontology and Project Preparation
- Professional Skills for Palaeontologists
Customise and consolidate your studies. In this year you can go on an optional fieldtrip overseas to visit come of the most exciting paleontological sites in Europe.
Core units in this year are:
- Palaeontology Project and Study Tour
Options to choose from in this year include:
- Taphonomy and Biostratigraphy
- Vertebrate Palaeontology 2
- Evolution and the Fossil Record
- Basin Analysis and Petroleum Geology
- Oceans, Climates and Environments
Teaching and Assessment
The course provides a balanced structure of lectures, tutorials and laboratory work. You will generally be taught in small classes, providing an informal, friendly and supportive atmosphere for your studies.
How are you assessed?
Assessment is a mix of coursework and exams, roughly 50:50. However, your coursework can take a variety of forms including:
- laboratory reports
- oral and poster presentations
- reports on field-based projects
- computer-based assessment
Facilities & Features
You will have access to modern, petrology and palaeontology teaching laboratories stocked with a wide range of hand specimens of rocks, minerals and fossils. There are also transmitted light binocular microscopes and polarizing petrological microscopes for detailed analyses of rocks, minerals and some fossils in thin section.
Fieldwork is an important part of our courses. From excavations to palaeobiological data collection, current trips are to:
- the Isle of Wight
- Lulworth Cove
- Lyme Regis
- Osmington Mills
Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.
Budgeting for your studies
There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.
Other costs to consider
The cost of travel or accommodation for compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee. But travel costs will be incurred on the Mapping Training Field Course, which takes place at locations within the UK in the summer between course years 1 and 2 of study. This will be around £100. You will be expected to pay for meals and other subsistence costs associated with compulsory fieldwork.
For compulsory project work, normally in the UK or Europe, costs for travel and accommodation can be from £0 - £1000.
For optional fieldwork, costs of travel, accommodation, meals and other subsistence are around £1200.
You will be expected to buy field equipment, (e.g. compass, clinometers, hammer, hand lens, notebook) at the start of your first year. These costs are £125.
Careers & Opportunities
You are eminently employable and as a leading provider of palaeontology graduates we have an enviable employment record. Job opportunities include roles in museums, as wardens on the Jurassic coast of Dorset, in teaching, building models of pterosaurs for science exhibitions, on television and in the oil industry.
Postgraduate study is also a popular choice for many of our graduates.
We feel it’s very important for you to gain first-hand experience of the variety of geological techniques you will be learning throughout your course. Although field-based learning is intensive, needing you to draw on a wide range of theoretical and practical knowledge, it is immensely rewarding and, above all, fun.
You’ll get the chance to visit come of the most famous sites in Europe such as the Solnhofen quarries where Archaeopteryx was found and the World Heritage Site at Messel to collect in strata containing 40 million year old horses, pythons, bats and birds.
To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.
Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.