EOSC 326 (3 cr): Earth and Life Through Time



By the end of the course you will be able to express how the concept of geological time is vital to our understanding of the evolution of Earth’s System. As a student in the life sciences, insight into biological evolution through time provides a useful perspective for your other studies. In the first part of the course, you will apply basic geological principles and techniques to interpret Earth’s earliest life and subsequent mass extinctions. The second part of the course focuses on the evolution of marine life following the Cambrian Explosion and the history of the earliest vertebrates on land. Rather than a standard description of the progression of life over the ages, this part of the course is developed as a series of case studies. Each one investigates a way in which different fossil groups reveal an aspect of Earth’s System as it evolved through time. These include investigating how organisms’ adaptations are useful barometers for the health of Earth’s System as a whole, revealing Earth’s ancient local and regional environments and, more broadly, how Earth’s geography has changed over the last several hundred million years.

Provisional Grade Breakdown

  1. Introductory Assignment: 3%

This introductory assignment is set up to have you meet the classmates in your Small Group. You will be working in the same Small Group several times during the semester. This assignment has several parts that open and close at different times — see the schedule for details. You must complete this Assignment sometime within the time interval that it is open (usually about two weeks).

  1. Laboratories: 26%

Laboratories require you to integrate course concepts and ideas to solve problems. Some may involve group work as well as individual work. They open and close at different times — see the schedule for details. You must complete each question set sometime within the time interval that it is open (usually a week or two).

  1. Midterm exams: 26%

Midterm exams test your understanding of the lessons, extra readings, videos and laboratory concepts presented in each Module. Midterm Exam A tests Module A; Midterm Exam B tests Module B. They open and close at different times — see the schedule for details. You must complete each question set sometime within the time interval that it is open (usually a few days).

  1. Final exam: 2.5 hours/45%

The Final Exam takes place during the regular exam period for UBC. It must be written on paper and in person. Note: You may register to write your Final Exam away from UBC, Point Grey campus, if you are out of town or overseas during the exam period. In this case, you can prearrange a location with a suitable invigilator, as long as this is set up well in advance – usually within the first few weeks of term. Information on how to do this is provided on the course website and is accessible once the course launches. As long as you are organized about this there should be no problems with it. Final Exams are frequently written at different places all around the world and the process runs very smoothly.

The Final Exam includes two parts, an Individual Portion (1.5 hours, worth 85% of final exam mark) and a Group Portion (50 minutes, worth 15% of final exam mark). The Group Portion will be written in groups of 4, immediately after all individual exams have been collected. Note: Your group mark will only count toward your overall Final Exam mark if it improves your score. If it lowers your score, it will not be counted (as long as you did complete this portion of the exam).

Questions for the Final Exam will be taken from the material presented in the Course Readings, Extra Readings identified in the Lessons, Videos and Labs for Module C only. That said, broad concepts from Module A and Lab 1 may be indirectly tested, as some questions could be designed with the assumption that you can apply the basic geological principles you learned in Module A. For the Labs, you DO NOT need to remember the material presented specifically, just understand HOW you did them.

Final exam format: multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank and long answer.



Students are required to have 3rd year standing in science and a 100-level biology course.