Palaeontology BSc (Hons)
BSc Hons Palaeontology
Are you interested in studying the processes of how life on Earth began, evolved and diversified? Do you enjoy getting your hands dirty as well as spending time in the lab?
Get ready to dig up the past on our BSc (Hons) Palaeontology degree course. You’ll learn the theory and methodology of palaeontology and get a solid foundation in geology. By using our comprehensively equipped labs and journeying to the past on field trips, you’ll graduate with skills to apply your knowledge in a range of scientific roles in areas from oil exploration to museum curation.
100% Overall student satisfaction (NSS, 2020)
90% Graduates in work or further study (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey conducted in 2019)
BSc (Hons) Palaeontology degree entry requirements
- A levels – ABB–BBC
- UCAS points – 112–128 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, with 72 points from 2 Science subjects (Applied Science, Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science/Studies, Geography, Geology, Mathematics or Physics) (calculate your UCAS points)
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDM–DMM
- International Baccalaureate – 28
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
What you'll experience
On this course you'll:
- Become a skilled palaeontologist (you don't need any previous experience in palaeontology or geology)
- Expand your understanding of the evolution of life and geological processes
- Do fieldwork in locations such as the Isle of Wight, Lulworth Cove, Lyme Regis (and other parts of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site), the Welsh Borders and Germany
- Work alongside our active academic research team on the latest theories and models
- Stay up to date with the latest theories in palaeontology, as our team of active researchers integrate new ideas and data into teaching
- Use our newly refurbished facilities, with specialist petrology and palaeontology laboratories, stocked with rock, mineral and fossil specimens
- Learn how to use our specialist kit, such as transmitted light, polarising and scanning electron microscopes
Careers and opportunities
When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work in the industry. If you want to continue your studies we can also help you identify relevant courses or research opportunities.
What can you do with a Palaeontology degree?
Previous students on this course have gone on to work and study in areas such as:
- oil exploration
- museum curation
- academic research
After you leave the University, you'll get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.
After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience in the broad earth sciences sector.
Previous students from the School have enjoyed placements at organisations such as civil engineering, mining and quarrying companies and the Dinosaur Isle museum on the Isle of Wight.
We can help you look for a work placement that fits your aspirations. If you do a placement you’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
Work experience and career planning
To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course.
We can help you identify placements, internships and voluntary roles that will complement your studies and build your CV.
The lecturers are helpful and enthusiastic, and there is a lot of new lab equipment as well as extensive fossil collections. There are also fantastic opportunities for fieldtrips.
What you'll study on this BSc (Hons) Palaeontology degree
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.
Modules currently being studied
Core modules in this year include:
- Biodiversity & Vertebrate Anatomy
- How the Earth Works
- Mineralogy and Petrology
- Quantitative Methods
- Science for Earth Systems
- Sedimentology and Palaeontology
There are no optional modules in this year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Early Vertebrate Evolution
- Invertebrate and Analytical Palaeontology
- Micropalaeontology, Palaeobotany, and Palaeoenvironments
- Palaeontological Techniques
- Professional Skills for Palaeontologists
- Sedimentary Processes and Facies Analysis
There are no optional modules in this year.
On this course, you can do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in industry.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Palaeontology Project and Study Tour
Optional modules in this year currently include:
- Applications of Palaeontology
- Applied Sedimentology and Petroleum Geology
- Dinosaurs and Mammals
- Introduction to Teaching
- Oceans, Climates and Environments
- The Fossil Record
We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.
Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
Academic skills support
As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- Academic writing
- Note taking
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Presentation skills
- Working in groups
- Revision, memory and exam techniques
If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.
Support with English
If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.
Teaching methods on this course include:
- laboratory work
How you'll spend your time
Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:
- Teaching block 1 – September to December (October to December for some courses in 2020/21 only)
- Assessment period 1 – January (and early February for some courses in 2020/21 only)
- Teaching block 2 – January to May (February to May for some courses in 2020/21 only)
- Assessment period 2 – May to June
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- laboratory reports
- oral and poster presentations
- reports on field-based projects
- computer-based assessment
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
The way you’re assessed may depend on the modules you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:
- Year 1 students: 55% by written exams, 13% by practical exams and 32% by coursework
- Year 2 students: 29% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 63% by coursework
- Year 3 students: 39% by written exams, 9% by practical exams and 52% by coursework
Tuition fees (2021 start)
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students - £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £17,600 per year (subject to annual increase)
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
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.
Your travel and accommodation costs for compulsory fieldwork are included in the course fee, with the exception of the Mapping Training Field Course, which takes place around the UK in the summer between the first and second year of study. Travel and accommodation for the Mapping Training Field Course costs around £100. You’ll also need to pay for meals and other living costs on compulsory fieldwork trips.
You’ll need to cover the cost of travel, accommodation, meals and other living costs for any optional fieldwork you do. These costs are normally around £1,200.
For compulsory project work, normally in the UK or Europe, costs for travel and accommodation will range from £0–£1,000.
You will be provided with essential health and safety equipment free of charge, and loaned equipment such as a compass clinometer, hammer, etc. where appropriate (though you may use your own equipment, if it is up to standard). You will, however, need to purchase your own clothing appropriate for fieldwork (e.g. waterproofs, rucksack, sturdy walking boots, etc.).
How to apply
To start this course in 2021, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – F641
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
How to apply from outside the UK
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS or apply directly to us (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.