BSc (Hons) Palaeontology – Year 3: Induction information


Welcome back to Portsmouth. We hope you enjoyed the summer and are excited to start the next year of your degree.

Message from Professor Sherria Hoskins, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Health

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you back to the Faculty of Science. Many things about our world are very different at the moment but one thing that hasn't changed is our commitment to giving you a fantastic experience at University.

This year, approximately 1,500 students graduated from one of our programmes. I feel immensely proud that we have made such a significant contribution to the pool of scientists and health practitioners.

Science and health studies represent an adventure of the mind, seeking truth that can make a difference to the world, as we have seen more than ever in recent times. I hope we give you an understanding of how to use your knowledge and an understanding of its intrinsic value to yourselves and others.

I also hope that we inspire you with confidence and curiosity throughout your studies so that you can go on to realise your own vision; to know the world as it is and be able to imagine it as it might be, to glimpse the possibilities of change, of improvement and of your contribution.

Jump to your induction timetable

Staying safe on campus

We’ll have all appropriate safety measures and a few restrictions in place. And every building will be open in line with Government guidance – including teaching spaces, communal spaces, toilets, cafes and the library. For more information about how we're ensuring your safety on campus, head to the 'Campus and city life 2020/21' page.

Due to coronavirus, we've made some changes to teaching to keep you safe. You'll take part in most large teaching sessions online. And any face-to-face teaching will be in small groups with social distancing measures in place. We've set up sanitisation stations across campus, one-way systems in busy areas and protective screens at certain locations.

Due to changing circumstances as a result of the pandemic, we may need to make further changes to courses to ensure your safety and to ensure compliance with Government guidelines. We'll provide you with as much notice as possible of any such changes. Your course leader will inform you of these changes.

International and EU students 

If you're joining us from overseas, find out about our International Orientation events and what you need to do during your first week.

If you can't travel to the UK, or you don't feel safe to travel, your course's first teaching block will be delivered completely online. The majority of Orientation events will also be online, so you'll still be able to get involved in welcome talks and social activities, as well as meet other new students.

Meeting and working with other students

We'll encourage you to meet and work with other students online by creating student-only groups on platforms like Whatapp and Facebook. You can also: 

Learn more about communicating online.

Meet your lecturers

During induction week, you'll meet members of your course teaching and administration team, Faculty support staff and other new students. You'll be assigned a personal tutor in your first week, who is an experienced member of academic staff.

Dr Tony Butcher

Hello, I’m Tony, the Course Leader for the palaeontology course here at Portsmouth. As well as running the admin side of the course, I teach a wide range of topics in both geology and palaeontology, from field mapping to palaeobotany. My research interests are using microfossils to solve geological problems, such as how old rocks are and what the ancient climate was at that time. Outside of work, I find peace in the sound of very loud bangs shooting clay pigeons or paper targets, and relaxing at home with my children and Albert the Tortoise, usually trying to persuade them to watch Star Wars with me (again).

Find out more about Dr Tony Butcher. 

Dr Laura Cotton

Hi I'm Laura. Having arrived in February I'm quite new to Portsmouth too! I'll be teaching micropalaeontology, climate, some sedimentology and you'll also probably meet me on field trips. I really love (almost) all fossils and collecting - so the Jurassic coast was a great place to move to. My research is focussed on how reef ecosystems responded to major climate change in the past to help predict what might happen in future. When not sciencing (also whilst sciencing) I have three small and slightly unruly dogs that keep me busy.

Find out more about Dr Laura Cotton.

Dr David Loydell

Hello, I am David. Unless I am your tutor, you are unlikely to see much of me until the second and third years. I research on life and events during the Silurian, studying primarily graptolites (extinct, extraordinarily wonderful zooplankton which are very useful in dating rocks) for my research, collaborating with lots of geochemists who help interpret past climates, oxygen levels, etc. In terms of teaching, we will look at trace fossils, the uses of fossils in palaeoenvironmental analyses, fossil preservation and major events in the history of life on Earth, such as the Cambrian explosion and mass extinctions. When not teaching or graptoliting, I like wandering around the woods and hills near where I live.

Find out more about Dr David Loydell

Professor David Martill

Hello and welcome to Palaeo at Portsmouth. I am a vertebrate palaeontologist specialising in Cretaceous ecosystems and the palaeobiology of pterosaurs and dinosaurs. I undertake fieldwork on the fringes of the Sahara Desert in south east Morocco where I work on the famous Kem Kem Group. These strata yield remains of the giant aquatic dinosaur theropod Spinosaurus. Presently I am working on the Kem Kem pterosaurs, and it is incredibly frustrating as they are highly fragmentary. So far, with the help of my MRes students, we have managed to identify 9 species. When I am not out looking for fossils, you will find walking in Hampshire bird watching (because they are extant dinosaurs).

Find out more about Professor David Martill

Dr Nic Minter

Hi, I’m Nic. You’ll meet me teaching on your sedimentology and palaeontology modules and on field trips. My research is on animal-sediment interactions, both when they were alive (trace fossils) and dead (taphonomy) and I use them to investigate major evolutionary events in the history of life on Earth. I’ve worked in North America. Outside of the university, you’ll probably find me competing in various running events.

Find out more about Dr Nic Minter.

Welcome from Michelle Hale, Head of School

Welcome back to the School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences! Teaching and assessment are going to be a little bit different this year, but we are following best practice in developing a blended learning approach to the delivery of your modules. We will be taking a flipped learning approach to a lot of teaching delivery, where you will be able to cover lecture content online, in your own time, and face-to-face teaching will be focused on applying the knowledge that you have learned in laboratory, fieldwork, workshop and seminar sessions in small, socially distanced groups. As always, your personal tutor will be your first port of call for support and guidance, so please attend your tutorials and let your tutor know if you have any issues. Wishing you all the best for an exciting year of learning!

Your induction timetable

You'll need your student account details to access many of your online induction activities. If you haven't already activated your student account, please activate it now. Your username will consist of 'UP' followed by your student ID number (for example, UP123456).

Log into your Moodle course page

If you're having problems logging into Your Student View, please contact the Service Desk – call +44 023 9284 7777 or email

Thursday 1 October onwards

Pre-recorded Induction Presentation - watch before attending the Q&A session

Tuesday 6 October

11.00am - 12.00pm: Live Induction Q&A session with Course Leader (Tony Butcher, via Zoom)

6.00pm - 8.00pm: Live icebreaker session for all palaeo students (via Zoom)

(Links to all of the above are via the 'Induction' section on the Course Moodle Site: 

Access your sessions on Moodle

Keep in mind that event times and locations might change at short notice.

We recommend you bookmark, favourite or save a link to this webpage so you can revisit it before you arrive and when you're on campus.

Further information

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