Northern Populations and Ecosystems

Tilhører studiet:
Biology - master
Photo: Rolf A. Ims
Photo: Rolf A. Ims

Northern Populations and Ecosystems

Tilhører studiet:
Biology - master
Application deadline

Nordic applicants: 15 April

EU/EEA + Swiss applicants: 1 March

Non-EU/EEA applicants: 15 November

How to apply?

Are you interested in exploring fundamental ecological questions? Do you want to know what counts as evidence to develop and implement sustainable management of populations or ecosystems, or apply the best tools available for monitoring and predicting impacts of climate change – or human activities on northern nature? Or perhaps your main desire is to learn about what determines patterns and processes within boreal and arctic ecosystems or explore solutions for ecosystem-based management. Do you want to acquire highly relevant competence for a career within management or research in an era of profound pressures on species and ecosystems? Then this discipline is for you.

This study programme requires compulsory attendance to the introductory meeting. See this web page for more information.
Questions about the study

Saga Svavarsdottir


  • Telephone: +4777660525
  • Campus: Tromsø

A MSc discipline with us provides insight in general ecological theories, analytical approaches and tools for understanding, analyzing and managing populations, food webs, ecosystems or socio-ecological systems. Students in our group work with empirical data collected in the field, use novel technologies, modelling and advanced data analyses, or combine ecology with climate data, citizen science, didactics, or social science for ecosystem-based monitoring and/or management. We offer MSc projects in a broad range of topics, including in animal behavior, health and diseases, wildlife ecology, plant ecology, theoretical ecology and evolution, and in ecosystem science & management. The MSc discipline supports inter- and transdisciplinary projects relevant for climate research, sustainable harvest of wildlife and livestock ecology, primary production, conservation or sustainability science. Our main focus is on arctic-alpine tundra, boreal forests and northern coastal ecosystems. Projects are often conducted as a part of larger research projects and in teamwork. We collaborate extensively with partners within the <a href="">Fram Centre</a> such as the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Marine Research Institute as well as management agencies and other stakeholders.

Students belonging to our group will work with their supervisors to conceptualize and design their own project work. Students need to contact their supervisor at an early stage to plan their thesis work and to acquire the necessary scientific literature and training to implement the project. Students in our group will learn:

  • The theoretical and conceptual frameworks relevant to their topic
  • To develop study designs or models reflecting their hypotheses or questions
  • To use state-of-the-art methods for acquiring and analyzing data
  • To write a research paper
  • To communicate and present their work

For more information about the research group see: Northern populations and ecosystems research group.

Recommended elective courses autumn

  • BIO-2103 Evolusjon og Adferd (in norwegian) – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3015 Arctic Marine System Ecology and Climate Change – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3019 Quantitative methods for molecular systematics and biodiversity analyses - 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3505 Ecological interaction – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3519 Parasites and epidemiology– 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3024 Northern Biodiversity Hotspots: taxonomy field courses - 5 ECTS
  • BIO-3805/3810 Individual Special Curriculum - 5/10 ECTS

Recommended elective courses in the spring:

  • BIO-3004 Ecosystem-based management – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3118 Microscopical imaging Techniques – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3518 Northern inland waters and global change – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3805/3810 Individual Special Curriculum - 5/10ECTS

Relevant courses offered at UNIS:

  • AB-327 Arctic Microbiology - 10 ECTS
  • AB-329 Arctic Winter Ecology - 10 ECTS
  • AB-340 Climate Change Biology - 10 ECTS

Candidates that have completed a master’s degree in biology in the discipline Northern populations and ecosystems will have advanced knowledge within many aspects of terrestrial ecosystem ecology, environmental monitoring and management (e.g., plant ecology, animal ecology, ecosystem ecology, environmental monitoring designs and analysis, ecosystem-based management). Study and working approaches span from single populations to integrative ecosystem-based studies, and data collection comprising from detailed field studies on the ground to the use of satellite imagery. The candidate will be able to use relevant analytical methods including both theoretical and statistical approaches.

The Master’s degree in Biology will allow you to qualify for different career paths and prepare you to step into a professional role or to apply for a PhD.

A Master of Science degree in Biology will prepare you for a wide range of jobs, in both public and private sectors, including research, resource and nature management, administration, consulting and the teaching profession.

The master thesis can play an important role to establish your domain of expertise and to showcase acquired technical and soft skills. Also, it can be very important in building scientific and professional network, that will be a support in your future job search.

Term 10 ects 10 ects 10 ects
Compulsory safety courses at semester start (no ECTS)
First semester (autumn)
Elective course (up to 10 ECTS)
Elective course (10 ECTS)
Second semester (spring)***
Animal exp. (5/6 ECTS)**
Elective course (up to 10 ECTS)
Elective course (10 ECTS)
Third semester (autumn)****
Fourth semester (spring)
* BIO-3529 is 5 ECTS spread over the two first semesters and conducted partly digitally to accommodate students going to UNIS.
** BIO-3503 Aquatic Animal Welfare (only for projects that require use of live aquatic organisms) or HEL-6320 Animal Experimentation for Researchers (only for projects that require use of live birds or mammals). Please note that there is an own application deadline for HEL-6320.
*** Possibilities to take single (intensive) courses at UNIS from mid-March.
**** Possibilities to take single (intensive) courses at UNIS.

See the study plan below for more info about the program structure.

Admission to the master’s program in Biology requires a bachelor’s degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification, including a specialization in biological topics [i.e., biodiversity (zoology/botany), ecology, cell- and molecular biology, microbiology, physiology (animal/plant), biochemistry and bioinformatics] corresponding to a minimum of 80 ECTS.

Applicants must have a minimum grade average comparable to a Norwegian C (3,0) in the ECTS scale. The average grade is calcualted from the entire bachelore´s degree.

Applicants with education from non-Nordic countries must document English language proficiency. You will find more information of English language requirements here:

Applicants with a degree in Agricultural, Fisheries and Aquaculture studies, Biomedical laboratory sciences ("Bioingeniør"), or Bachelor of Pharmacy, Medicine or Dentistry do not fulfil the admission requirements.

More information on admission requirements:

General admission requirements-Master

Nordic applicants:

Online application is via Søknadsweb, application code: 6024

EU/EEA + Swiss applicants:

Online application, application code: 7114

Non-EU/EEA applicants:

Online application, application code: 2080

How to apply for admission to UiT? Read more here

Several teaching and assessment methods are employed, including lectures, seminars, laboratory work, computer lab and field courses. These will vary from course to course.

Course examinations may be oral or written examinations, assessments of project work/ lab reports/field reports, often in combination.

Supervision of the project work that leads to the writing of the Master`s thesis will be given by faculty staff, sometimes in co-operation with an external supervisor.

The language of instruction and all syllabus material is English.

On successful completion of the degree programme, students may be qualified for admission to a PhD-programme in Biology at the UiT or elsewhere.

Students can undertake periods of studying at The University Centre at Svalbard (UNIS). Each discipline highlights relevant courses at UNIS under program description.

International exchange during an entire semester is not possible in the first year of studies due to obligatory courses in all discipline.

Stays abroad can take place as part of a master project in the third and fourth semester. Please consult the program study advisor for more information.

Ehrich, Dorothee

Researcher in the Climate-ecological Observatory for Arctic Tundra COAT, where I work mostly with arctic foxes on Varanger Peninsula, but also with red foxes, small rodents, snow and other component of the tundra ecosystem affected by climate change.

Bilde av Ims, Rolf Anker
Ims, Rolf Anker
  • Professor of Ecology
  • Leader of COAT – Climate-ecological Observatory for Arctic Tundra
Soininen, Eeva Marjatta

Researcher in ecology

Coordinator for COAT  - Climate-Ecological Observatory of Arctic Tundra

Leader of COAT research module "Small rodent module"

Bilde av Yoccoz, Nigel
Yoccoz, Nigel

Professor of Statistical Ecology at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology

In the leader team of the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, in charge of Research

WP Leader of the UiT Aurora Centre "DYNAMO" (Leader: Odd Erik Garcia, Department of Physics)

WP Leader of COAT, "Climate-Ecological Observatory of Arctic Tundra" (Leader Rolf Ims, AMB),


Bilde av Mellard, Jarad
Mellard, Jarad

Associate Professor

Bilde av Stien, Audun
Stien, Audun

Professor of quantitative ecology

Kari Anne Bråthen - Stetind.jpg
Bråthen, Kari Anne

I am a community ecologist with focus on biodiversity of plants and the interactions that plants have with other organism groups.