Skip to content | Change text size

ESC2141 - Charles Darwin and geology

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Science

Leader: Dr Jeffrey Stilwell and Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich


Not offered in 2007


This unit explores the fascinating history of evolutionary thought from the ancients to Charles Darwin (1809-1882). From the dawn of human history to the discovery of 'deep time' in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the history and succession of life on earth demanded a time-scale of many millions of years, not thousands. Darwin's groundbreaking research detailing the first viable theory of evolution using the natural world and fossils culminated in the publication of the Origin of Species in 1859 and changed the way we view ourselves forever. This work remains pivotal to investigations on biotic evolution today.


On completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the history of early ideas and observations of the natural world leading ultimately to the theory of organic evolution, proposed by Charles Darwin in his landmark book, Origin of Species, published in 1859 in London.; gain insight into the minds of early scientists (mainly geologists), who discovered 'deep time' and that the observed succession of life occurred over very long intervals of time and that the earth itself must be millions of years old, and assess critically the impact of the geologic record on the theory of evolution.


2-hours Examination (40%)+ Essay (30%)
Seminar (30%)

Contact hours

2 x 1-hour lectures and 1 x 4-hour practical per week