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Journey to England's Jurassic Coast

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Dr. Stuart Sutherland is a Professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at The University of British Columbia (UBC). Raised in the United Kingdom, he earned an undergraduate degree in geology from the University of Plymouth and a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Leicester for his studies on Silurian microfossils called chitinozoa. Professor Sutherland discovered his passion for teaching during an appointment at Brunel University in London. He went on to postdoctoral research at the Natural History Museum in London, working with other paleontologists to understand the Devonian organic-walled microfossils of the Cantabrian Mountains of northern Spain. During this time, he completed a postgraduate teaching degree at Sheffield Hallam University. Since 2000, Professor Sutherland has been on the faculty at UBC’s Vancouver campus, where his interests center on Earth history and paleontology. He is a three-time winner of the UBC Earth and Ocean Sciences Teaching Award. He also received the Faculty of Science Teaching Award and the Killam Teaching Prize, and he was named a “popular professor” in two editions of Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities. Dr. Sutherland is the professor of two popular Great courses: A New History of Life and Paleontology


  • Get a curator's welcome and overview of the collection at London’s Natural History Museum, where your expert, Dr. Stuart Sutherland, conducted his postdoctoral research. Here you will view many of famed paleontologist Mary Anning’s most treasured finds. Later, visit the town of Lyme Regis where many of these discoveries were first made. 

  • Discover the breath-taking Jurassic Coast, England’s first UNESCO designated natural World Heritage Site and learn more about our constantly changing planet through Dr. Sutherland’s eyes. 

  • Revisit some of Dr. Sutherland’s favorite spots along the South West Coast as you ascend dramatic cliffs for expansive views of white sandy beaches, blue lagoons, and crystalline waters and explore idyllic towns, picturesque coastal villages, and charming harbors. 

  • Gain insights into the exceptional geology of the region from Dr. Stuart Sutherland, along with knowledgeable local naturalists, historians, and paleontologists. 


Starting at $6,395 per person

8 Days, 7 Nights | June 16-23, 2024

Stuart Sutherland

Join expert leader and geologist Dr. Stuart Sutherland for an 8-day, 7-night epic journey along the Jurassic Coast, nearly 100 miles of rugged and scenic coastline stretching across southern England. Inspired by Dr. Sutherland’s acclaimed Introduction to Paleontology course, this tour invites travelers to “read the rocks” and immerse themselves in the Earth’s fascinating history. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast holds some of the world’s most outstanding rocks, fossils, and landforms. Your journey begins at London’s Natural History Museum, where Dr. Sutherland completed his post-doctoral research. Here, he will set the stage by sharing many of Mary Anning’s spectacular finds (including her ichthyosaur, plesiosaur, and pterosaur). With this context, you will then continue to the Jurassic Coast. Sutherland and your local guides will share many of the most spectacular and memorable segments of the coast, over undulating hillsides, along dramatic and rugged clifftops, through lush and sheltered woodlands, and atop pebble beaches. Dr. Sutherland will take you to some of the beaches where he collected fossils as a child and teach you about the fascinating geology underlying a rainbow of natural features, including clear blue waters, verdant forests, red sandstone arches, and chalky white cliffs. Explore secluded beach-fringed landscapes, charming coastal villages, and lovely seaside promenades by foot, coach, atop a narrow-gauge tram, and on scenic boat rides. 


Transfer as a group from Heathrow Airport to London’s Natural History Museum, called a “cathedral of nature” because of its striking vaulted central hall and vast fossil collection. The museum is home to many fossils found by pioneering paleontologist Mary Anning–including an ichthyosaur, plesiosaur, and pterosaur. Joined by a curator, Dr. Stuart Sutherland will share special insights about the museum, which he learned during his time conducting post-doctoral research on-site. The museum tour serves as the perfect prelude for your Journey on the Jurassic Coast. This afternoon, your journey begins with a roughly three-and-a-half hour coach transfer to Exmouth.  

Included Meals: Dinner 

Accommodations: Royal Beacon Hotel 

Begin the day at the geoneedle at Orcombe point, the most westerly point along the Jurassic Coast. After, visit the delightful seaside town of Budleigh Salterton, a picturesque town with a mix of Victorian and Edwardian houses. Walk the beach, comprised of 440-million-year-old, perfectly oval quartzite pebbles, significantly older than the adjacent cliffs. After lunch, visit 

the Fairlynch Museum, housed in a thatched cottage by the sea, where you will hear an introductory talk about the collection, before gathering on the beach to observe the nearby cliff formations with the museum’s curator. You may have seen similar formations as outlined in Lecture 14, “Life’s Great Crisis: The Permian,” and Lecture 15, “Life’s Slow Recovery after the Permian,” in Dr. Sutherland’s course, Introduction to Paleontology. Observe the Jurassic Coast shoreline from a boat ride, to view it from a different perspective. Explore Exmouth on your own this evening. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

Accommodations: Royal Beacon Hotel 

Descend into the Beer Quarry Caves, a manmade limestone complex that has served as a source of stone for dozens of cathedrals for more than 2,000 years. Emerge from this underground cave complex for an opportunity to observe the abundant birdlife atop the Seaton Tramway–a narrow gauge electric tramway running through the lovely Axe Valley and River Axe estuary. Later this afternoon, visit the Undercliffs National Nature Reserve, a jungle-like woodland and site of the famous Christmas Landslip and the Ammonite fossil graveyard. Tonight, Dr. Sutherland will share his perspectives on these diverse landscapes in a lecture at the hotel, before time for dinner on your own. 

Included Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodations: Royal Beacon Hotel

Continue to the Pearl of Dorset, as you enjoy a guided tour of the galleries at the Lyme Regis Museum, built on the site of Mary Anning’s childhood home and fossil shop. Today, you may continue her legacy on a guided fossil walk searching for gastropods and bivalves along East Beach and Black Ven, which remain among the most prolific sources of fossils in the world. After lunch on your own, visit Bridport’s spectacular yellow sandstone cliffs with their characteristic bands of calcite towering above the shoreline. Spend time exploring Hive Beach, one of the most unspoiled beaches on the Jurassic Coast, overlooked by golden sandstone cliffs. Enjoy dinner as a group in Lyme Regis this evening before returning to your hotel. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner 

Accommodations: Royal Beacon Hotel 

Transfer approximately two hours by coach this morning to visit some of the Jurassic Coast’s most dramatic landscape features. Your first stop is Ringstead Bay, an unspoiled beach where you can walk along the cliff tops to the shingle beach below. Continue to the natural limestone arch of Durdle Door, one of the most photographed sites of the Jurassic Coast. Your Jurassic exploration continues with the breathtaking Lulworth Cove, known for its unique geology and landforms–including the Lulworth Crumple and Stair Hole–and panoramic views of the Jurassic Coast. Transfer to your hotel in the coastal resort town of Bournemouth, where you will gather for a lecture with Dr. Sutherland before dinner as a group this evening. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner 

Accommodations: Nici Hotel 

Your day begins at the Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic Marine Life, housing a vast collection of Jurassic age fossils found by Dr. Steve Etches within two miles of the museum. Then, join Dr. Etches for a tour of Kimmeridge Bay. Journey back in time to the Spyway Dinosaur footprints, where brachiosaurs walked the Earth 140 million years ago–leaving more than 100 fossilized dinosaur tracks in their wake. After lunch, continue to Durlston Country Park, an expansive clifftop nature reserve offering breathtaking views of limestone cliffs, abundant bird and wildlife, and the Great Globe–one of the world’s largest stone spheres. Return to your hotel this afternoon with time to explore Bournemouth on your own. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

Accommodations: Nici Hotel 

This morning, learn about the modern uses of the region’s riches at Wytch Farms–the largest on-shore oil field in Western Europe. Observe the “nodding donkeys” and learn about how this vast industrial complex has flourished within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Your Jurassic Journey concludes at Old Harry Rocks–the easternmost point of the Jurassic Coast, 95 miles of scenic coastline from the iconic Orcombe that began your journey a week ago. These white chalk formations emerge from the water, gleaming in the sun, much like the structures featured in Dr. Sutherland’s Lecture 9, “Our Vast Troves of Microfossils,” in his course Introduction to Paleontology. Return to Bournemouth this afternoon for a celebratory final dinner as a group.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner 

Accommodations: Nici Hotel 

Transfer as a group this morning from Bournemouth to Heathrow for individual flights home 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner 

The Nici Hotel — Bournemouth (3 Nights)

This recently renovated, 4-star destination offer a stylishly modern, yet warm and welcoming, boutique experience. The guest rooms feature bold colors and clean lines blended with tranquil, soft fabrics, and luxury extras, including powerful, monsoon shower heads, premium toiletries, a Nespresso machine, and a well-stocked minibar. For all-day snacks, drinks and meals, visit the South Beach Restaurant & Bar, a bright and cheery space offering indulgent coffees and pastries, as well as artisan plates, featuring local seafood. 

The Royal Beacon – Exmouth (4 nights) 

The Royal Beacon is a charming historic hotel located on a cliff-top near the center of town and a short walk from the beach. The property is named for the beacon that was lit on the same spot to prevent the invasion of Spanish forces. The hotel offers clean and comfortable rooms along with several on-site dining options with views of the sea and well-tended gardens below. 


The information imparted to us and the cultural experiences were both exciting and eye-popping. On this trip, we were able to completely relax and enjoy each day because The Great Courses planned and executed this tour so well.

–Mark & Rachel H.

The Great Courses delivers. If you're looking for an educational adventure with like-minded people, then this is a go-to.

–Karyn A.

Due to the well-planned pacing and cultural aspects, it wasn't just a canned touristy event but really showed a lot of the localities. The Great Courses really went all out to make this a great tour.

–Teresa L.

Stuart Sutherland 

Journey on the Jurassic Coast

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