autumn 2022
BIO-3015 Arctic Marine System Ecology and Climate Change - 10 ECTS

Application deadline

Concerns only admission to singular courses: Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. Exchange students and Fulbright students: 15 October for the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

Master course for biology students - principally aimed at MSc-students specializing in Arctic Marine Ecology.

The course is available as a singular course.

Admission requirements

Admission requires a Bachelor`s degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification, with a major in biology of minimum 80 ECTS.

Local admission, application code 9371 - Master`s level singular course.

Course overlap

If you pass the examination in this course, you will get an reduction in credits (as stated below), if you previously have passed the following courses:

BIO-8020 Arctic Marine System Ecology and Climate Change 10 stp

Course content

The course provides an introduction to marine system ecology and climate change in the Arctic Ocean including its shelf seas and central basins. It describes the physics of the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas, for both water and ice, and how climate change alters them. The course introduces biological communities and key organisms, life history strategies, habitats and ecosystems of the marine Arctic. Coupling between biological communities and habitats are discussed with respect to energy flow and in terms of how physical processes determine the conditions for biota and their productivity, today and in the near future. Students will be introduced to a wide range of examples of system ecological response to climate change in the Arctic Ocean, ranging from microbial organisms to marine mammals, and including biogeochemical cycles. In addition, management regimes in the Arctic are discussed in terms of their influence on the marine system. The course is taught by a large number of lecturers who have their research focus in the topic they lecture on.

Recommended prerequisites

BIO-2010 Marine Ecology, BIO-2516 Ocean Climate

Objectives of the course


  • be able to evaluate the physical environment in the Arctic Ocean with respect to hydrography, currents, and sea ice cover, and discuss the role of physical drivers for the Arctic marine ecosystem.
  • be familiar with the spatial and seasonal patterns of nutrient concentrations in high latitudes and be able to discuss changes in the nutrient availability in a warming Arctic.
  • be able to explain the significance of sea ice and debate the implication of sea ice cover changes to the biodiversity and carbon cycling in the Arctic.
  • be familiar with the basics of the microbial food web and cycling.
  • have insight into the primary production in high latitudes and be able to explain how climate change may affect primary production.
  • have developed an understanding of the habitat structure and biological communities in the sea ice, water column and at the seafloor of the Arctic, from microbes to mammals, and be able to evaluate how a warming Arctic impacts both habitat and communities.
  • be familiar with the term "life history strategy" and be able to discuss this term on the example of the key species Calanus in the Arctic and the Atlantic ecosystem.
  • understand the concepts of diel vertical migrations (DVM) in the Arctic, be familiar with the proximate and ultimate factors regulating DVM, and be able to discuss how these change according to seasons.
  • be able to understand and explain the role and regulation of vertical flux and other forms of cryo-pelagic-benthic coupling and evaluate how these processes are may be impacted by climate change.
  • be able to explain the characteristics of mass flows in fjord and coastal Arctic ecosystems, and to elaborate on how external factors (e.g., invasive species, climate change) may change the mass flows.
  • be able to describe and justify the current fish distribution in the Arctic Ocean and potential future changes with regard to increasing ocean temperature and decreasing sea ice.
  • have an understanding of the role of marine mammal top-predators in sub-Arctic/Arctic ecosystems and be able to discuss potential changes in a warming Arctic.
  • be able to explain how ecosystem comparisons can contribute to understanding ecosystem structure and functioning.


  • have the ability to evaluate and discuss scientific topics related to a variety of processes and dynamics in the Arctic marine environment.
  • be able to understand and critically reflect on literature about the Arctic ecosystem, as well as present this information orally (or in form for an essay, for PhD students).
  • be aware of and be able to discuss the current understanding how climate and anthropogenic impact can influence Arctic marine ecosystems.

General competence:

  • be able to work independently with scientific literature.
  • have refined the ability of critical thinking, by discussing scientific literature with lecturers and fellow students.
  • be able to integrate ecosystem knowledge by combining information from single studies of separate compartments and their couplings.
  • have improved their ability to work with fellow students through various group work activities during the seminars

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

12 weeks of teaching. Each week three lectures (2x45 min) and one seminar.

Information to incoming exchange students

This course is open for inbound exchange student who meets the admission requirements, including prerequisites. Please see the "Admission requirements" and the "Prerequisite" sections for more information.

Do you have questions about this module? Please check the following website to contact the course coordinator for exchange students at the faculty:


Examination: Grade scale:
Oral exam A–E, fail F
UiT Exams homepage

Re-sit examination

There will be a re-sit examination for students that did not pass the previous ordinary examination.
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: BIO-3015