Arctic Marine Ecotoxicology

Tilhører studiet:
Biology - master
Photo: Sophie Bourgeon
Photo: Sophie Bourgeon

Arctic Marine Ecotoxicology

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?

Pollution represents a major environmental problem for ecosystems and society worldwide. The Arctic marine ecosystems are central in the regulation of climate and biogeochemical cycling and provide human populations with food and other important natural resources. Yet, they are exposed to both local and long-range transported pollutants and arctic marine organisms face multiple stressors in an era of climate change. This naturally entails a great need for both expertise and research on the sources, fate and biological effects of pollutants in the environment. This knowledge and competence calls for a multi and transdisciplinary approach to the problem. In order to fulfill society's future needs for expertise in this field, we offer a discipline in Ecotoxicology, with a special focus on Arctic marine ecosystems.

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

Ecotoxicology is the study of how man-made pollution affects organisms at all levels of biological organization, from cells to ecosystems. The subject is multidisciplinary, and primarily integrates ecology and toxicology with advanced knowledge of one or several of the following field of sciences: cell and molecular biology, physiology, environmental chemistry and ecology.

This discipline will give you a fundamental introduction to ecotoxicological principles and approaches and contemporary research topics. Our broad choice of elective courses, also at UNIS, will allow you to deepen your knowledge on Arctic ecosystems from a molecular, physiological or ecological perspective.

Master projects will be carried out as part of ongoing research projects, which encompass both fundamental research and more applied topics related to contemporary environmental issues. For instance, a master project can cover fields of science related to the release, transport and toxicity of legacy and emerging persistent organic pollutants, petroleum related pollution, littering in the marine environment (e.g. microplastics) and more. The research approaches may span from molecular and cellular mechanisms, to integrative whole animal or population studies and through experimental or field-based research. Many projects are offered in collaboration with external institutions, especially within the Fram Centre in Tromsø, e.g. Akvaplan-niva, Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Norwegian Institute for air research (NILU), Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA).

Students from this discipline may be relevant candidates to research institutions in both the public and private sectors, management at the regional, national and international levels as well as consultancy firms.

Recommended elective courses in the autumn

  • BIO-3015 Arctic Marine System Ecology and Climate Change - 10 ECTS (Marine ecology)
  • BIO-3030 Extreme Animal Physiology - 20 ECTS (physiology)

Other relevant elective courses in the autumn:

  • BIO-3013 Northern food web ecology - 10 ECTS (terrestrial ecology)
  • BIO-3505 Ecological Interactions -10 ECTS (aquatic ecology)
  • BIO-3018 Environmental Molecular Genetics - 20 ECTS (molecular biology)
  • MBI-2005 General pharmacology and toxicology - 10 ECTS (toxicology)

Recommended elective courses in the spring

  • BIO-3506 Top predators in polar marine ecosystems: Biology, role and management implications - 10 ECTS (every other year)
  • BIO-3004 Ecosystem-based management - 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3518 Northern inland waters and global change - 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3512 Early life of marine fish - 10 ECTS
  • KJE-1006 Miljø- og analytisk kjemi - 10 ECTS (in norwegian)
  • BIO-3805/3810 Individual Special Curriculum - 5/10 ECTS

Relevant courses offered at UNIS

  • AT330 Arctic Environmental Toxicology - 10 ECTS
  • AT324 Techniques for the Detection of Organo-Chemical Pollutants in the Arctic Environment - 10 ECTS
  • AB338 Life History Adaptations to Seasonality - 10 ECTS
  • AB322 Fluxes of Nutrients, Energy and Contaminants from Sea to Land – 10 ECTS (every other year)

Candidates that have completed a master’s degree in biology in the discipline Arctic marine ecotoxicology will have advanced knowledge of how arctic marine organisms, populations and communities are impacted by anthropogenic stressors. The discipline will provide a thorough knowledge of all classes of contaminants (persistent organic pollutants, microplastics, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, etc.) including their sources, physico-chemical properties, fate and biological effects on living organisms from molecular mechanisms of toxicity to adverse outcomes at higher levels of biological organization. Also, a range of ecotoxicological approaches and methods used for instance in toxicity testing (e.g. in vivo, in vitro, in vivo, in sillico) are introduced as part of the course portfolio and master project.

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)
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 6025

EU/EEA + Swiss applicants:

Online application, application code: 7115

Non-EU/EEA applicants:

Online application, application code: 2081

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 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.

Bilde av Nahrgang, Jasmine
Nahrgang, Jasmine

I am professor in arctic marine ecotoxicology and work on the biological effects of petroleum related contaminants on Arctic marine species, in particular sensitive life stages. I am study programme leader for our international master in biology and I teach our course Fundamentals in ecotoxicology (BIO-3020) at master level and  coordinate an internship course for bachelor students (BIO-2014).