NBIK15007U Advanced Ecology

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject


A high-level introduction to ecological processes, including trophic interactions and within- and between-species interactions.

Learning Outcome


  • Key concepts, theories and hypotheses in ecology
  • The spatial and temporal distribution of species and organisms
  • The biology of fungi, protists, plants and animals of importance to ecosystem function and/or which are typical of different environments
  • The function of freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems and their interaction with local, regional and/or global systems, including global change


  • Hypothesize, independently formulate and conduct empirical studies/experiments, in the field and in the laboratory, and explain, communicate and put into perspective a scientific problem, both orally and in writing
  • Use relevant experimental techniques, methods of quantification and equipment, both in the field and in the laboratory, including the competences required to evaluate the complexity of the data collected, sources of error and methodological uncertainties
  • Summarise - orally and in writing - a research subject using original scientific literature as the basis
  • Make the case for a scientific thesis using empirical knowledge and scientific inference
  • Use quantitative, including statistical, methods of relevance to the subject area


  • Understand and present the structure and function of complex ecosystems
  • Manage, advice on, and conduct research into ecosystems, based on in-depth biological knowledge
  • Illustrate and analyse a biological phenomenon by distinguishing between immediate (how?) and evolutionary (why?) causes and explanations
  • Explain and discuss the distribution and density of species on local and regional scales
  • Explain the important physical, chemical and biological characteristics of different ecosystems, and understand how organisms adapt and respond to changes in them
  • Analyse the occurrence and activity of organisms in relation to the physical/chemical environment
  • Explain and discuss the evolutionary adaptations of organisms to a given environment and their behaviour in relation to/response to both members of the same species and individuals of other species
  • Evaluate interactions between individuals at different trophic levels, e.g. plants/herbivores, prey/predators, and host organisms/​parasites/​mutualists/​diseases

See Absalon

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Teaching will follow three main lines:
- Code-based teaching will involve a visit to field location, in which students will investigate water, soil, biotic communities (flora, fauna microbes etc.) and processes using relevant methods. The samples and observations from the field will subsequently be used during laboratory work.
- Concurrently, question-driven teaching will focus on the theory of ecological, behavioural, and evolutionary principles and will consist of lectures, seminars, and computer-based exercises.
- Problem-based learning is applied in an individual essay, which aims at answering ecological questions using empirical data and scientific inference.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 25
  • Class Instruction
  • 15
  • Preparation
  • 75
  • Practical exercises
  • 30
  • Excursions
  • 8
  • Project work
  • 50
  • Exam
  • 3
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
On-site written exam, 3 hours under invigilation
Written assignment, 9 days
Type of assessment details
Evaluation based on individual written exam and individual essay. The written exam contributes 70% of the final grade, while the individual essay contributes 30%.
Exam registration requirements

80% participation in exercise classes is mandatory

Only certain aids allowed

Books, exercise instructions, articles used in class, own notes, calculator and tablet/computer. Use of internet is not allowed.

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

Oral re-exam, 20 mins with 20 mins preparation, same aids as the ordinary exam. 

If the individual essay has not been approved, a new essay must be handed in no later than three weeks before the re-exam. 

If the exam registration requirement is not fulfilled, the student must follow the course again. 

Criteria for exam assesment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome.