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The first year of this master is common to both specialities GEOBAS and PALEO. Programmes are taught in french but may have some courses taught in english.


Term 1 (september-december)

  • GIS and geomatics
  • sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy
  • geodynamics of sedimentary basins
  • integrated paleontology
  • laboratory techniques of characterization of geological samples
  • english
  • open modules

Term 2 (january-june)

  • traineeship of 8 weeks
  • quantitative geomorphology and sedimentary fluxes
  • geochemistry and geology of organic matter
  • diagenesis of geological reservoirs
  • open module



The GEOBAS training is composed of lectures, practicals and a traineeship ended by a public defense. The praticals include seismic, structural and stratigraphic geomodeling on workstations, as well as analogic experiments on salt and clay tectonics. Several field sessions are an important part of the training : Devonian reefs of the Ardennes, Upper Jurassic mixed shelf of the Boulonnais, Jurassic and Cretaceous slope and turbidite deposits of the french Tethyan margin, and Miocene molassic deposits of the alpine foreland. A modern, tide-dominated estuary is also visited (bay of Somme). A 5 days oceanographic cruise is also included, during which very-high resolution seismics is operated in the Eastern Channel. Depending of the class, the lectures are given either in french or english. The trainee reports are in english.


A student needs to obtain 30 european credit points (ECTS) per semester. The first term contains a number of taught subjects. The 2nd term is dedicated to a research project.

Term 3 (september-december)

Mandatory modules

  • Field training
  • Reflection seismics and marine geophysics
  • Sedimentary basin modeling

Options (2 from the list)

  • biochronology and applied case studies
  • micropaleontology
  • quantitative paleontology
  • salt and clay tectonics
  • paleoclimatology-geobiology
  • personal project

Term 4 (january-june)

  • internship from 4 to 6 months


Professor Jean-Yves Reynaud


The objective of the master program is to train students in answering questions of interest to both industry (exploration of energy and mineral resources in sedimentary basins) and academia (paleobiology, climate change).


Special attention is paid in integrating fundamental and applied aspects of paleontology and geosciences.
Students are trained to solve problems of stratigraphic correlations and paleoenvironmental reconstructions and in particular by using :

  1. different analytical methods, useful in basin analysis
  2. paleontological, sedimentological and geochemical proxies
  3. quantitative analytical tools


This MSc program prepares students for a wide range of international careers in geosciences, within academia, industry, research, consulting, national and international government al services and NGOs. Based on the research skills acquired students obtain a strong training for a successful integration in PhD program.


A student needs to obtain 30 european credit points (ECTS) per semester. The first term contains a number of taught subjects. The 2nd term is dedicated to a research project.

Term 3 (september-december)

  • field training
  • integrated paleontology
  • sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy
  • micropaleontology

    Micropaleontology can make significant contributions in a large number of paleoenvironmental and paleoceanographic/paleoclimatic studies. It is also applied in the hydrocarbon industry, both for the exploration and development/production phases (by assisting drilling teams in geosteering).
    The objective of the course consists in teaching a number of microfossil groups useful for all their applications in Geosciences. Taxonomic aspects of the most important groups are presented and highlighted based on observations of our teaching collections; the latter will help the student understand and familiarize with the most significant and discriminating morphological characters of each fossil group, but also to become familiar with the use of catalogues and determination keys used by specialists. The fossil groups presented are those that are most important for biostratigraphy and paleoenvironmental reconstructions, such as benthic and planktonic foraminifera, calcareous nannofossils, ostracods, spores and pollen, dinoflagellates, acritarchs, chitinozoans, radiolarians, diatoms and conodonts.

  • paleoclimatology-geobiology

    Paleoclimatology. The study of climate change at different time scales (tectonic, orbital, millennial…) : the course reviews the forcing mechanisms and interactions of the climate system. Issues related to modelling are also discussed. Examples of paleoclimatic reconstructions are given from the Paleozoic, Cretaceous, Cenozoïc, Quaternaty and Holocene based on environmental records (marine sediments, lake sediments, glacial record, speleothemes, etc.). The course present as well some exemple of the Holocene sea level changes based on multiproxy reconstruction.

    Geobiology. The course reviews: 1) biomineralization processes: in order to explain the mineral signatures of early microbial life, the removal of iron from early earth oceans, the recording of geochemical metabolic signatures. 2) The post-mortem alteration (taphonomy) of microorganisms: to understand what morphological, molecular and isotopic features can help the taxonomic/metabolic identification of fossil microorganisms. 3) Microbial metabolic reactions and their geochemical tracers: to decrypt the co-evolutions of environments and life (oxygenation, glaciations, atmospheric CH4/CO2) on early Earth (Archean-Proterozoic). A lab session trains students to autonomous use of Raman spectromicroscopy: to identify carbonate biominerals (case of corals) and perform organic matter thermometry (application to oil resources, taphonomy and metamorphism). The course also reviews aspects of carbonate and siliceous biomineralisation, the evolution of calcite – aragonite and silica cycles throughout the Phanerozoïc, as well as interactions between Cambrian evolution and geodynamics. Life history since the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) is developed during this course. This period is somehow crucial for the life evolution. Several examples have been shown since the first traces dated by 3.5 Ga old to Ediacaran era. The link with oxygen story has been presented in order to follow the potential relationship between the emergence of complex life and dynamic of oxygen during the Proterozoic.

  • quantitative paleontology

    The objective of this course consists in apprehending a number of analytical methods applied in the study of fossil assemblages at various temporal and spatial scales.
    To achieve this objective, the course includes the teaching of :
    - Basic numerical and statistical tools applied to database that are accumulated along research studies. Data are computed by using the free software R.
    - Taxonomic and phylogenetic methods applied in the classification of Life (concepts, principles and methods), including cladistics methods useful to reconstruct the relationships based on inherited characters and phonetic methods to construct “distance” trees based on the overall similarity and understanding “molecular clocks, with the use of computer software (PAUP, PAST, R packages).
    - Analytical methods to study paleobiogeographic patterns with the use of computer software, including concepts and methods of PAE (Parsimony Analysis Endemics), BPA (Brook’s Parsimony Analysis), etc.
    - Methods of geometric morphometrics (Procrusts, Fourier transforms) with the use of computer software (TPS series, R packages) and based on different shape parameters (landmarks, sliding semi-landmarks, outline).
    - Methods of developing and analyzing paleobiodiversity curves based on specially designed databases, including of analytical methods that allow to explore various biases.

  • biogeochronology and applied case studies

    The objective of the course is to present different dating tools in Earth Sciences, from biostratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy and cyclostratigraphy to geochronology, the way that these tools are used for the refinement of the Geological Time Scale, for understanding the evolution of sedimentary basins, of resolving tectonic questions and for reconstructing paleoceanographic changes.
    Regarding biochronology, the course presents the theoretical background behind the design of the different types of biozonations (contiguous versus discontiguous) and of biozones (taxon range, interval zones, acme zones). Examples of biozonations are analysed in the practical classes to understand how biochronology is applied for dating the sedimentary record, with some of its implications (e.g. estimating sedimentation rates).Presentation of ways in which the fossil record may be used for sequence stratigraphic analyses and for understanding the thermal maturity of sediments (geothermometers).
  • literature review project

Term 4 (january-june)

  • the research project may be prepared in Lille or in any of our partner universities.


Partnerships have been forged with swedish and russian establishments within the framework of a double degree programme.


Professor Taniel Danelian