This course is designed for graduate students (MSc, PhD) and advanced undergraduates. It offers instruction and experience in reading and evaluating focused arguments on topics currently under active discussion by paleobiologists worldwide. Example topics might include – but would not be restricted to – quantitative stratigraphy, morphometrics, ecometrics, phylogenetics, developmental paleobiology, conservation paleobiology, macroevolution, paleoecology, taphonomy and artificial intelligence in the earth sciences. The particular subject area or topic that will form the focus of discussion will change from year to year depending both on developments in the field and the interests of the class. This will be decided on the basis of roundtable discussion during the first class meeting. Once this decision has been made it will be the responsibility of the course organizer to find either a suitable book-length review of the selected topic or collection of technical articles drawn from the recent primary literature, and ensure these are available to all class members. Particular chapter(s)/paper(s) will be assigned for reading before each class meeting and students selected to lead the review, analysis and discussion of this/these work(s). Students will be expected to present a summary of the material presented in the reading(s), to note any points made by the author(s) with which they either agree or disagree (and why), and to respond to questions from other class members and/or the organizer regarding these and other issues covered in the reading. All class members will be expected to participate in these weekly discussions actively. In addition, class members will be expected submit a brief (c. 10 p.) written analysis of the issues covered in their reading as a term paper. Specific term paper topics will be agreed between the student the course organizer. Grades will be assigned based on the frequency and quality of contributions made to the class topical discussions (50%), the research article presentation (20%) and the written term paper (30%).
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