International Masters Program in Palaeobiology

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg FAU

Program Description

International Masters Program in Palaeobiology

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg FAU

The acute theme of global climate change and its impact on organisms and ecosystems requires a new generation of scientists. We provide theoretical concepts of macroecology and macroevolution, as well as statistical techniques and scientific programming in palaeobiology. The second pillar of this specialization is the reconstruction of fossil environments and their local and global controls. We focus on carbonate systems, which are the result of the metabolic activity of organisms and thus reflect the interplay of the biosphere and the earth-system at large.

The Master's program consists of four semesters with 30 credit points (ECTS) each. In addition to compulsory courses, students can choose supplementary activities, including language classes or additional field excursions. The last semester is dedicated to the Master's thesis. Supplementary courses (SC) include field trips, language courses, and transferable skills.

Master in Geosciences at FAU includes two fields of study:

  • Palaeobiology – which provides a theoretical framework in macroevolution, ecology, palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and statistical analysis.
  • Earth Systems Research Lab – which consists of an individual field- and specimen-based projects and provides students with skills such as preparation of funding applications, scientific writing, and communication, as well as environmental and geochemical background for interdisciplinary collaborations.

Analytical techniques and equipment

  • Internationally renowned stable isotope laboratory with focus on palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions,
  • One-of-a-kind collection of carbonate thin sections, fossil preparation and thin section laboratory and a wide range of microscope imaging facilities,
  • Micro-computed tomography for 3D and non-invasive analysis of specimens,
  • Ultrastructural studies on biomineralization and diagenesis, including cathodoluminescence, scanning electron microscopy, electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX),
  • Hydrochemical laboratory for environmental analyses,
  • Sclerochronology for palaeoclimate and biomineralization studies (MicroMill),
  • Global biodiversity analyses involving e.g.Paleobiology Database and PaleoReefs Database (hosted in Erlangen),
  • Intensive field-based training and multiple fieldwork opportunities.

Research highlights

  • Macroevolution and the relative contributions of biotic interactions (e.g., symbiosis, parasitism) and abiotic factors (e.g., climate) in driving macroevolutionary patterns,
  • Biodiversity dynamics, modeling and prediction,
  • Marine ecosystems with emphasis on coral reefs,
  • Carbonate rocks as archives of palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimate change,
  • Stratigraphic palaeobiology and sequence stratigraphy,
  • Reconstruction of palaeoenvironments,
  • Integration of processes at multiple time scales: from deep-time to Recent.

Career perspectives in palaeobiology

  • Universities and research institutions,
  • Research funding, policy, and administration,
  • Museums and geo-parks,
  • Conservation biology,
  • Scientific publishing houses, editorial offices, media,
  • Extractive industry and geological surveys,
  • Science popularisation.
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated January 10, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Oct. 2018
2 years
Full time
Germany - Nürnberg, Bavaria
Start date: Oct. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Oct. 2018
Germany - Nürnberg, Bavaria
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info