Palaeontology and geobiology


Earth and environmental sciences (2nd level)

Paleobiology and sedimentary geology (2nd Cycle)

Course code: MTP02
Year of study: 1st year

Course principal:
Assist. Prof. Špela Goričan, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 15 hours, tutorial 30 hours, individual work 120 hours.
Course type: module mandatory
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures (0.5 ECTS), practical training (5 methods x 0.5 ECTS).


Course syllabus (download)


First-cycle Bologna degree or a university degree in the natural sciences.


Content (Syllabus outline):

  • Procaryotes, protists, plants, invertebrates, vertebrates
  • Nature of the fossil record (fossilization, taphonomy, (in)completeness)
  • Biology, morphology, functional morphology
  • Species concepts
  • Evolutionary rates and trends; diversity, origination and extinction
  • Biostratigraphy, palaeoecology, palaeobiogeography
  • What is geobiology?
  • Biomineralization processes
  • Geomicrobiology
  • Animals and plants as geological agents
  • Global geobiochemical cycles



Selected chapters from books and papers:

  • Prothero D.R. 2013. Bringing Fossils to Life. An introduction to paleobiology (3rd edition). Columbia University Press, 1-672.
  • Benton M.J., Harper D.A.T. 2020. Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record. 2nd Ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 1-656.
  • Jones R.W. 2011. Applications of Palaeontology. Techniques and Case Studies. Cambridge University Press, 1-406.
  • Knoll, A.H., Canfield, D.E., Konhauser, K.O. 2012. Fundamentals of Geobiology. Wiley-Blackwell, 1-456.
  • Konhauser, K.O. 2007. Introduction to Geomicrobiology. Blackwell Publishing, 1-440.


Objectives and competences:

The purpose of the course is to give a comprehensive overview in the field of palaeontology and geobiology. Lectures will cover general topics (nature of the fossil record, principles of taxonomy an evolution, various fields of application). Laboratory work will focus on systematics and identification of macro- and microfossils (using optical microscopes and SEM). Field trips will be organized to enable better understanding of the link between a particular fossil assemblage and its characteristic facies/depositional environment. Individual work of each student will consist of writing a project proposal on a selected topic.


Intended learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding:

The student knows the process of research in palaeontology/geobiology and is familiar with principal groups of fossil organisms. He knows how to use palaeontological data in academic studies (dating of rocks, palaeoenvironmental analyses, evolutionary studies) and is aware of their use in applied research (e.g. petroleum exploration or environmental science). In the field of palaeontology/geobiology, he is able to propose a research project, that is,

  • to define the particular question he wants to answer,
  • to review the previous research,
  • to identify the material he wants to analyze (in existing collections or in previously known localities in the field),
  • and to define the adequate analytical methods.



Written or oral exam (70 %), coursework (30 %).