NBIK14013U  Arctic Biology

Volume 2017/2018

MSc Programme in Biology

MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject


Lectures run throughout the course and present both aquatic and terrestrial themes, where the environmental characteristics of the Arctic are defined and described. In connection with this, diversity, population dynamics in time and space as well as ecological implications are covered. Morphological, physiological as well as reproductive adaptations and strategies are discussed for selected plant and animal groups. Important aspects such as effects of climate change and effects of ice and snow are examined in details.

Learning Outcome

The aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of:

  • Environmental growth conditions in the Arctic
  • Adaptations of animals, plants and microorganisms in the environment
  • Biodiversity at all trophic levels
  • Biological interactions in time and space in the Arctic
  • Climate changes implications


  • Describe the special conditions for plants, animals and microorganisms in the marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments in the Arctic such as the physical and chemical conditions, low temperatures, occurrence of ice and snow as well as nutrient and light availability.
  • Describe the dynamics and the production of terrestrial and aquatic Arctic ecosystems.
  • Identify the morphological, physiological and reproductive adaptations of animals and plants in relation to the arctic conditions, especially adaptations to low temperatures, short growing period and extreme events.


  • Analyse the diversity of Arctic organisms at the community, individual and genetic level in relation to the Arctic conditions.
  • Compare the vulnerability of arctic species to environmental conditions
  • Analyse the interactions between different organisms and the life history strategies in arctic animal and plant species.
  • Explain the main features of arctic species immigration after the last glaciations.
  • Evaluate the effects of climate change on arctic ecosystems and possible feed back mechanisms to the climate.


  • Critically present and discuss scientific articles about arctic conditions
  • Mediate a specific, complex subject in a short, written form to a scientific audience (an essay)

See Absalon.

Biology at a bachelor level.
The course runs for 9 weeks with 3-5 lectures per week and weekly mandatory seminars and exercises. At the seminars, research topics and review papers are treated and discussed by students and the teachers. The exercises are individual and/or group based take-home tasks related to the syllabus. The detailed teaching procedures for each week are announced on Absalon. Most weeks there will be a guest lecture (from UoC or other research institutions) who will present a research topic. These presentations will be followed by a discussion of the topic based on additional reading material. These lectures are mandatory.
The course complements the bachelor course "Basal arktisk biologi" and it is optimal to takes both courses if an arctic dimension is part of the study curriculum.
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, (essay)
Oral examination, 25 minutes
Towards the end of the course each student receives the title for a 5 page essay i.e., the written exam. The essays are written individually under guidance by one of the course teachers and must be handed in before a fixed date (typically 1-2 weeks; details are given during the course).

The oral part of the exam consists of a 10 min presentation of a subject different from the subject for the essay. The presentation is followed by questions (approximately 15 min) to the subject as well as to the Learning Outcome in general. The title for the oral exam is handed out when the submission deadline for the essay expires. The last week of the course is used for preparation of the individual oral presentation and examination.

The written and the oral exam must be passed separately, and each exam counts for 50% of the final grade. If the essay is not handed in before the deadline the student will recieve the grade -3 for this part of the exam.

The two parts of the exam do not have to be passed in the same exam periode.
Exam registration requirements

Participation in at least 80% of the mandatory parts of the course (=seminars, exercises and guest lectures).

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

As ordinary exam. If the essay was not passed during the ordinary exam a new essay within a different subject must be handed in.

If the requirement of 80% participation is not fulfilled the student must make a 15 minutes oral test prior to the oral exam (typical the week before). In this test the student must demonstrate a general knowledge of the subjects that has been taught during the course by answering a number of questions. If this test is approved the oral exam can take place. The test will not be part of the evaluation.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 0,5
  • Preparation
  • 74,5
  • Lectures
  • 26
  • Colloquia
  • 50
  • Theory exercises
  • 50
  • Guidance
  • 5
  • Total
  • 206,0