Evolution and the Fossil Record


A wide-ranging introduction to the fascinating history of evolution from a geological viewpoint.

Aimed at beginners, topics include evidence from fossils, recent discoveries, the principles of natural selection, the origin of species, evolutionary patterns, major events in the history of life and mass extinctions. 

There will also be a chance to study many fossils put out in the teaching room. No previous background in palaeontology or evolutionary biology is needed for the course and no reading is required in advance.

You are very welcome to bring along your own fossil specimens which you would like to be identified or which you think are of special interest.

Please note: this event will close to enrolments at 23:59 BST on 3 April 2024.

Programme details

Registration at Rewley House reception

Introduction to evolution, fossils and the early history of life

Coffee/tea break

Natural selection, evolutionary processes and the origin of species

Lunch break

Practical session – studying fossil specimens in the teaching room (~ 30 mins)
Evolution during the Palaeozoic Era, including including an example of microevolution in trilobites (~ 45 minutes)

Tea/coffee break

Other major events in the evolution of life, including mass extinctions

End of day


Description Costs
Course Fee (includes tea/coffee) £99.00
Baguette Lunch £6.50
Hot Lunch (3 courses) £17.60


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Peter Sheldon

Dr Sheldon is an Honorary Associate in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at the Open University, where he was a Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences until 2015. He chaired the Open University course on Geology and contributed to many other OU courses. He has given over 80 courses in geology, palaeontology and evolution for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education since 1979 and over 40 day-schools for OUDCE at Rewley House since 1993.


Please use the 'Book' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form. 


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email res-ctr@conted.ox.ac.uk for details of availability and discounted prices.