• Offered by Research School of Earth Sciences
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Earth and Marine Science
  • Areas of interest Earth and Marine Sciences
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Jochen Brocks
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2016
    See Future Offerings

This course provides an overview of the co-evolution of life and Earth through time, from the origin of life, early evolution in ancient Precambrian oceans, the emergence of animal life in the Cambrian explosion, the invasion of land by plants, and the major mass extinctions that saw major turnover off forms of life, including the demise of dinosaurs. The course will provide an overview of the major groups of plant and animal fossils (theoretically and based on inspection of specimens during practicals) and show how they can be used to reconstruct ancient environments and ecosystems. The course will also teach the basics of unconventional signs of life in the rock record such as molecular fossils and isotopic traces. 

This course is for students of geology, biology, chemistry,and archaeology.

Postgraduate students will attend classes with undergraduate students but will be assessed differently.

Additional readings of greater conceptual difficulty requiring an advanced scientific understanding will be made available for students enrolled at the graduate level.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1) Examine fossils and identify the time period in which the organisms lived.

2) Describe the evolution of life on Earth, from its simple beginnings more than 3 billion years ago to the present using macroscopic and molecular fossils as well as isotopic tracers.  

3) Analyse in depth how fossils can be used to reconstruct changes in environmental conditions in the oceans and on land through time.

4) Evaluate how geobiology has contributed to our knowledge about evolution of life

5) Communicate efficiently to peers how geobiology has contributed to various ideas about the evolution of life.

Other Information

This course has no fieldtrip

Indicative Assessment

A combination of theory and practical examinations, plus one oral presentation on a selected topic.

  • Mid semester theory and practical exam (40%, LO 1-3)
  • An oral presentation on a selected topic (20%, LO 2)
  • End of semester theory exam (40%, LO 1-3)

Students in the graduate level course (EMSC6019) will be required to demonstrate a more advanced level of knowledge in assessment items compared to the undergraduate level course (EMSC2019)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


A maximum of 39 hours of lectures/tutorials and 26 hours of laboratories

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with EMSC2019, EMSC4019 or or GEOL2019.

Prescribed Texts

No textbook required

Assumed Knowledge

Foundation understanding of earth science, biology or chemistry to level of first year university studies


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3480
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $4638
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7814 18 Jul 2016 29 Jul 2016 31 Aug 2016 28 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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