2023-2024 / SPAT0026-1

Paleoenvironment and evolution of the Earth system


30h Th, 10h Pr

Number of credits

 Master in space sciences (120 ECTS)4 crédits 


Louis François

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

In the first part of the course, the Earth is presented as a dynamic system with several components interacting closely together and shaped by various physical, chemical and biological processes. The second part provides an overall synthesis of the evolution of this system over geological ages.
The Earth as a dynamical system: geospheres, plate tectonics, rock cycle, climate and greenhouse effect, atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, feedback processes, the Earth as a living organism (Gaia hypothesis).
The Earth and its history: - Hadean (solar system and Earth's formation, degassing), - Archean and Proterozoic (origin of life, continental growth, atmospheric oxidation state, Neo-proterozoic glaciations), - Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras (biological crises, paleogeography changes and orgenesis, CO2 and climate, isotopic records), - Pleistocene (Milankovitch theory and climate cycles, ice core and marine records), - deglaciation and Holocene (climate, greenhouse gases and vegetation).

Practical lessons: each student will address in more detail some topics from the second part of the course, using the scientific literature.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The objective is to give to the students a general overview of the Earth's evolution from the solar system formation to the current climate changes. The course is designed for students with no advanced background in geology.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills


Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Every student will realize a work of bibliographical synthesis on a subject of his choice, in connection with the topics of the lectures. He will give an oral presentation of this work to other students. This presentation will be evaluated. This evaluation will serve as the examination for the course. 

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

The course is given in the second semester in a series of 3-hour lectures, on Monday afternoon.

Recommended or required readings

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course


Louis François, Professor, Institute of Astrophysics et and Geophysics (B5c build.), Phone: (+32) (4) 366-9776 e-mail: Louis.Francois@uliege.be

Association of one or more MOOCs