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The University of Edinburgh: Palaeontology and Geobiology

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department School of GeoSciences
Study type Research


We are one of the leading centres of palaeontology and geobiology research in the UK and globally.

Our MScR degree is the only such programme in palaeontology and geobiology in the UK.

Why Edinburgh Edinburgh has an excellent public and academic presence in Palaeobiology and Geobiology.

The programme leaders Steve Brusatte and Rachel Wood are leading researchers in the field whose research focuses on key questions like the:

  • origin of major groups of animals

  • interaction between evolution and environmental change

  • genealogical relationships of living and extinct species

  • influence of mass extinctions on the history of life.

Along with being regularly published in leading journals, their work has been extensively profiled by the popular press, and they are keen science writers and communicators.

In addition, we can offer you a critical mass of staff in palaeobiology, geochemistry, geobiology and astrobiology to support your pursuit of this degree.

Our research staff have published work in high impact international journals such as Nature, Science and PNAS.

Collaborations You will benefit from our strong collaborations with the National Museum of Scotland, our country’s leading natural history and cultural museum, with world renowned collections of fossils.

We are co-founders of the PalAlba Group, a consortium of scientists, conservation specialists and collectors working together to recover, record and research vertebrate fossils from Scotland.

We also work closely with geologists, biologists, astrobiologists, chemists, physicists, engineers and other scientists at the University of Edinburgh, who will be available to co-supervise your MScR research projects.

Field work Our School of GeoSciences conducts fieldwork across the globe, from searching for fossils of dinosaurs in Romania and primitive mammals in the western United States, to studying how environmental changes helped usher in the rise of animals in Namibia, China and Russia.

We also have active field programs in Scotland. You might have the opportunity to join a team in hands-on fieldwork on the Isle of Skye, one of the best places in the world to find fossils from the mysterious middle part of the Jurassic Period, including some of the first colossal long-necked dinosaurs and primitive flesh-eating tyrannosaurs, or other Scottish fossil sites.

You will also be able to take part in annual trips to world-renowned fossil sites around Edinburgh, where the sciences of geology and palaeontology were forged in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Many of the best MScR projects have a field component, and you will be encouraged to make fieldwork a part of your dissertation topic.

Outreach Our staff are world leaders in communicating science to the general public. They have written numerous books - ranging from children’s books to adult popular science tomes to textbooks - and appear regularly on television and radio.

Their work is profiled often by the popular press, so keep your ears tuned when the radio is on, and your eyes peeled when reading the newspaper or science blogs, because you will probably hear about our work.

A major highlight of this degree is that it combines research with scientific outreach.

You will gain skills in communicating your research through print, online and digital means, learning directly from scholars who are keen popularisers of science and well-known science writers.

Learn how to promote public awareness and understanding of key 21st century issues that relate to palaeontology and geobiology, such as extinctions, climate change and biodiversity.

MSc (Res)

Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 22nd in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Our position as one of Britain’s leading research universities was reaffirmed by the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, ranked 4th in the UK for research power (Times Higher Education, Overall Ranking of Institutions), with 90% of our research activity classified as world leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

Our …

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