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Masters of Science – Palaeobiology

The Palaeobiology Masters focuses on life throughout Earth’s history. It includes the development of the biosphere, ecosystems and the evolution of life. It covers the important ecological processes and environmental conditions which alter the dynamics and structure of organism communities. The focus is not only on fossil ecosystems, but is also applied to modern day anthropogenic climate change. Further key aspects of the masters program are carbonate sedimentology, taxonomy of marine fossils and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Research skills taught within the course include geological and palaeontological fieldwork, analytical methods, data science and statistics. The module list for the masters degree program can be found on the website.

Palaeobiology – Science topic

  • Reconstruction of
    • Ecosystems
    • Depositional environments, particularly carbonates
    • Biodiversity changes in space and time
  • Investigation of controlling factors
    • Impact of climate and other earth system parameters on the development of ecosystems in terms of diversity and biogeography
    • Causes of species extinction and origination
  • Methods
    • Palaeontology (particularly analytical Palaeobiology)
    • Palaeooceanography
    • Sedimentology
    • Geochemistry (of sediments and isotopes)

A masters in Palaeobiology equips you with the skills to work within a wide range of natural sciences. We offer a broad foundation in palaeoenvironmental and palaeobiological research, from fieldwork around the world, taxonomic knowledge, analytical methods, databases and statistics. These are used to investigate both small and large-scale questions, ranging from species evolution to climate research. Our teachers are renowned experts in a wide range of palaeontological fields, providing research based teaching enabling students to develop their skills on the forefront of science.

Our teachers:

Professor Wolfgang Kiessling – Global Change Palaeobiology and Palaeoecology
Professor Manuel Steinbauer – Biogeography and Macroecology
Professor Axel Munnecke – Carbonate Sedimentology and Facies Analysis
Dr. Kenneth De Beats – Macroevolution
Dr. Emilia Jarochowska – Stratigraphic Palaeobiology and Micropalaeontology
Dr. Michael Heinze – Collections and Taxonomy

The excellent guidance and support from our teachers provides you with the skills to pursue a career in the natural sciences by developing your scientific independence.

The department runs an annual course in carbonate sedimentology and facies interpretation, the Flügel-Course, which has been attended by hundreds of geology students from around the world.

The Palaeontology Department of FAU Erlangen is a driving force behind the setup and development of the international Paleobiology Database (paleobiodb.org).

Prerequisites for the Masters:

A Bachelors in Biology or Geosciences is a prerequisite for admission to the Masters of Palaeobiology. The study of Palaeobiology is a specialisation of the Masters of Geosciences within the GeoZentrum Nordbayern of Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Lectures for the Palaeobiology Major are all taught in English and accessible for applicants from all countries: Masters in Geowisschenschaften.

Optional Second Majors:

Earth Systems Research Lab (English)
Petrology, Geodynamics and Georesources (German)
Applied Sedimentology and Georesources (German)

Minor

Biology

Career prospects:

  • Research
  • Museums and Geoparks
  • Scientific publishers and media
  • Outreach and science communication
  • Conservation biology
  • Environmental and climate protection
  • Public policy