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Study Palaeontology


Palaeontology at Macquarie University: Ruth Mawson




Palaeontology is a broad discipline that examines traces of life on Earth through time. Through the study of past life, palaeontologists are able to shed light upon the origin and evolution of life, the influence of life on the development of the Earth and its environment, and the climate of the past. Palaeontology provides the tools to unravel the history of life including the devastation wrought by global extinction crises and the effect extinctions events have made to biodiversity. All life forms, past and present, tell us something about the environment we live in and by looking at the past we can make an attempt to predict the future. We need to understand changes in the record of life in order that decision making regarding the future might have a sound basis. Palaeontology is also applied to problem solving in areas such as archaeology climatic history, geomorphology and geology.


If you are interested in areas of study such as biology, biodiversity, earth sciences, marine sciences, environmental studies, physical geography, geology, Earth history, archaeology, natural history or museum studies, you may be interested in some of the palaeontology and related units offered at Macquarie University, many of which involve field studies that will enable you to see some of Australia as well.

The study of Palaeontology at Macquarie is focussed on a hands-on approach with an emphasis on new technologies, laboratory and fieldwork. All units include a practical and or field component. One unit, GEOS428 is completely field-based, where students spend 9 days at the Heron Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef learning about modern reefs in order to understand reefs of the past. Where else could you learn so much in such splendid surroundings!

Macquarie is the only university in Australia offering a full coherency (major) in Palaeontology/Palaeobiology. It can be studied in combination with other studies for the award of a BA (3 years) or a BSc (3 years) and a 4th year of an Honours program can also be undertaken. As well, the Palaeontology coherency is the compulsory coherency for a double degree, the BSc with BA in Natural History, Cultural and Museum Studies (4 years). For this degree students complete 3 coherencies (major) at least one of which must be an Arts coherency. For information regarding this double degree, check out http://www.els.mq.edu.au/BSc-BA

The units concerning Palaeontology offered at Macquarie are briefly described on the webpage of Macquarie University’s Centre for Ecostratigraphy and Palaeobiology in the Division of Environmental and Life Sciences, Department of Earth and Planetary Science.
For this information click on to INTERNATIONAL STUDIES at: http://www.es.mq.edu.au/mucep/ These may include:

  • ELS202 Information Management and Museums Studies 3 cr pts 2nd semester
  • GEOS235 Palaeontology 3 cr pts 2nd semester
  • GEOS272 Earths Evolving Environments 3 cr pts 2nd semester
  • GEOS312 Invertebrate Palaeontology 4 cr pts 1st semester
  • GEOS397 Applied Palaeontology and Biogenic Sediments 3 cr pts 2nd semester
  • GEOS425 Palaeobiology (even years) 4 cr pts 1st semester
  • GEOS427 Palaeoecology and Biogeography (odd years) 2 cr pts 1st semester
  • GEOS428 Coral /Reef Dynamics 2 cr pts 1st semester

Note: Full-time students normally attempt 12 to 14 credit points per semester (3 or 4 units). 400-level units count as 300-level units.

Higher degree studies include MSc (2-3 years) and PhD (3-5 years) research programs and a coursework MSc in Palaeobiology (1.5-3 years). It is also possible for international students to include one or two semesters of the MSc in Palaeobiology in an MSc they may be undertaking at their home university.

Natural History at Macquarie University

Museum Studies at Macquarie University


Telephone: 61 2 9850 7111

Postal address
Macquarie University
Sydney, NSW 2109

A/Prof Ruth Mawson
Telephone: 61 2 9850 8336
Fax: 61 2 9850 6053

Prof John Talent

Dr Glenn Brock

Freecall in Australia:
1800 1818 28
Freecall International:
China: 10800 61 00 241
Indonesia: 001 803 61 186
Japan: 0053 161 0001
Taiwan: 0080 61 1340

General Enquiries:
Telephone: 61 2 9850 7346
Fax: 61 2 9850 7733

Postal Address:
Macquarie International
Macquarie University
New South Wales, 2109



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