autumn 2022
BIO-3030 Extreme animal physiology - 20 ECTS

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1st of June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester.

Type of course

The course is mandatory for MSc students in biology on the Arctic Animal Physiology specialization program. 

This course is available as a singular course. 

The course is taught over two terms starting in autumn, with final exam in the spring term. 

Maximum number of students: 20 (the limitation is related to the mandatory research cruise).

Acceptance in the UiT MSc in biology programme, with specialisation in animal physiology gives automatic acceptance.

Other students: Acceptance based on application and the following priorities, provided mandatory requirement (i.e., min 10 ECTS of animal physiology is fulfilled): 

  • Acceptance in the UiT MSc in biology programme (other specialisations than animal physiology).
  • Other UiT-students at MSc level and with relevant background in biology.

Qualified students must apply by the 1st of August 2022 through this webform: Application form BIO-3030.

Admission requirements

Admission requires a Bachelor`s degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification, with a major in biology of minimum 80 ECTS. A minimum of 10 ECTS general physiology (BIO-2002 or equivalent) is mandatory.

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

Obligatory prerequisites

BIO-2002 Animal Physiology

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-2310 Arctic biology 5 stp
BIO-3008 Animal Physiology 15 stp

Course content

The course deals with how animals are able to maintain function and internal balance (homeostasis) despite variable environmental conditions. The course will address how animals use control systems to meet the challenges of changing environmental conditions with regard to oxygen, water/electrolytes, temperature, food/energy. The course will use a case-studies approach to highlight how animals in extreme environments have adapted to meet the above challenges.

Recommended prerequisites

BIO-1007 Quantitative Methods, BIO-2004 Study design and data analysis in Biology, KJE-1001 Introduction to chemistry and the chemistry of biology, MBI-1002 Cell- and molecular biology

Objectives of the course

Knowledge and understanding 

  • has thorough knowledge on the abiotic conditions that characterize different environments, with particular focus on extreme environments, including those found in the polar regions          
  • has specialized insight into the anatomical and physiological adaptations enabling animals to survive in extreme environments   in their different aspects - pertaining to water and electrolyte balance, bioenergetics and nutrition, oxygen demands, and coordination through endocrine and neuronal mechanisms 
  • understands and can explain, from a comparative and integrative perspective, the scientific approaches used to study physiological adaptations of various animals , related to their oxygen supply, to thermal-, energy-, and water- balance, and to the homeostatic control mechanisms that regulate their ‘milieu intérieur’ in relation to these factors. 
  • Is aware of research ethics in relation to research animal welfare, and of the regulation of animal research under Norwegian law.



  • discuss and explain how different fundamental physiological principles and adaptive mechanisms relate to the ability of different species to survive in a variety of extreme environments
  • discuss and explain how the function of organs are modified and adapted in organisms that live under different environmental conditions 
  • discuss and explain how a range of scientific experimental approaches have led to current understanding of physiological adaptation to environmental challenges (innovation) 
  • discuss and explain how physiological mechanisms may limit or potentiate the process of evolutionary adaptation  
  • plan and conduct experiments in animal physiology, employing relevant research methods, with reference to animal welfare regulation where relevant
  • collect data independently or during practical exercises, both under field conditions and in the laboratory 
  • analyse data from animal physiology experiments in an independent manner  


General competence 

  • can apply gained knowledge and available information to plan and carry out own research in animal physiology (e.g., own MSc project) 
  • understands the process of generating scientific knowledge 
  • can analyze and critically evaluate data obtained through own data collection or as reported by other in relevant scientific literature 
  • can analyze and critically review and communicate current scientific knowledge, both orally and in writing 
  • knows basic field safety/security regulations and how to take necessary precautions/ emergency preparedness when operating in the field under challenging weather conditions 
  • can review and extract relevant information from scientific literature in the process of presenting and discussing own research findings or other topics 
  • can present written scientific content clearly and in logical order while using language appropriate for the audience and occasion 
  • has the ability to work / cooperate in a group addressing a specific problem and writing up results and conclusions in a report 
  • appreciates the challenges involved in operating under field conditions (e.g., co-existing in a confined space in a ship/cabin/tent under highly variable weather conditions, under outdoor Arctic climate conditions, etc.) 

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

Hours distributed approximately equally between the two terms:

Lectures, seminars and journal club* - 45 x 2 hrs;  

Lab - 5 x 2 hrs; oral presentations - ~6 hrs;  

Field - 16 days with 8 x 10 hrs lab during field excursion to the Greenland Sea.

Remaining assignments, including preparing oral presentations, home assignments, own reading - ~300 hrs 

*Journal club: allows students to dive into some of the topics = student-led and student-active learning.

Students are expected and required to have fulfilled safety courses HMS-0501, HMS-0502, HMS-0503 and HMS-0504. Additionally, a specific lecture on preparations for the research cruise to the Greenland Sea (spring term) is mandatory, as is practical safety training on board the research cruise vessel. 


Examination: Duration: Grade scale:
Off campus exam 1 Weeks A–E, fail F
Off campus exam 2 Weeks A–E, fail F

Coursework requirements:

To take an examination, the student must have passed the following coursework requirements:

Oral presentations Approved – not approved
Laboratory exercises, with individual reports ( Approved – not approved
Multiple choice test Approved – not approved
Group reports from the cruise Approved – not approved
Specific safety training for the cruise Approved – not approved
UiT Exams homepage

More info about the coursework requirements

  • Oral presentations (2)
  • Laboratory exercises, with individual reports (5)
  • Multiple choice test (mid-term assessment; 1)
  • Group reports from the cruise (1)
  • Specific safety training for the cruise

Re-sit examination

There will be a re-sit examination for students that did not pass the previous ordinary examination.

Info about the weighting of parts of the examination

Poster work ca. 40% of final grade

Written review ca. 60% of final grade

Each assessment will be given a grade in points (1-6) according to defined criteria and transformed into a letter (A-F). The final grade will be based on the numerical weighted average of the report and the written exam and expressed as letter (A-F) "

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 20
  • Course code: BIO-3030
  • Earlier years and semesters for this topic