The study of paleontology

As an interdisciplinary subject, paleontology stands between the geosciences and biosciences and deals in particular with questions concerning the origin and development of life on earth

The history of evolution and evolutionary processes play just as important a role in paleontology as stratigraphic and systematic-taxonomic work, which involves reconstructing habitats and environmental conditions on the basis of fossils, fossil communities, traces and other remains.

Paleontology is the subject in the natural sciences that provides the key to understanding the processes that control and influence climate and environmental conditions today.

A study of the subject paleontology is only possible within the framework of a complete study of Earth Sciences. Within the framework of this course of studies, one can specialize in the subject of paleontology. Another possibility is to study biology and choose paleontology as a minor subject.

With the conversion of the classical diploma courses to bachelor and master courses, little has changed in this constellation. Only the number of universities offering such courses and minor subjects has decreased somewhat.

In addition, there are now also master's courses that specifically combine paleontology and biology and build on a bachelor's degree within geology or biology.

What can I expect in my studies?

In addition to the usual lectures, seminars, geological mapping, university and internships, there is usually a lot of fieldwork. The basics in other disciplines such as biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics are also part of the basic studies. In addition, spatial imagination, scientific thinking in time and space, teamwork and flexibility are trained in particular. English language skills should be brought along or acquired on the side, because a lot of the advanced literature is only available in English.

It is always very helpful to work as a student assistant. Through these student assistant jobs (HiWis), you get the opportunity to get to acquire important skills and help finance your studies. You learn most of what you need to know from practical examples!

In summary, a degree in geosciences with a focus on paleontology promises a solid education, a comprehensive scientific spectrum, good career prospects and, last but not least, a lot of fun.

Career opportunities after graduation

The professional possibilities as a paleontologist are broadly diversified. In principle, one can distinguish between professions in the private sector and in research.

Due to public interest in questions of climate change, the research fields of paleoclimatology and palaeoecology are particularly topical. They deal with the reconstruction of the climate or past ecosystems. Conclusions are to be drawn from this as to how the climate will continue to develop.

Exploration is the most important field of activity in the free economy. This involves the investigation and development of deposits. In the oil industry, drill cores are very often examined for microfossils. This allows the rock to be stratigraphically classified, i.e. dated. The oil-bearing horinzonts can be quickly located by means of the temporal indication of the rock.

Another task of paleontology is to collect information about the development of life all over the world, to process and evaluate it scientifically. To gain this knowledge, however, fossil remains of extinct creatures must first be found. Therefore, it is a prerequisite for every prospective paleontology student to have fun leaving the office and moving into the field armed with hammer and chisel. Because without the necessary excavations, no further scientific work is possible. A study of geosciences should offer extensive possibilities for excursions and excavations, not only for paleontologists.

Study locations




If you have any further questions about your studies, please contact our student representative.

Student Representative

Universität Bonn
Nussalle 8
D-53115 Bonn


Paläontologische Gesellschaft
Schumannstrasse 144
63069 Offenbach am Main
Tel.: 069 / 403 585 77
Fax: 069 / 403 560 26
Email: geschaeftsstelle(at)

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