Ecology and sustainability

Tilhører studiet:
Biology - master
Photo: Vidar Nordli Mathisen
Photo: Vidar Nordli Mathisen

Ecology and sustainability

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?

One of most significant challenges facing society in the 21st century is to ensure ecological and environmental sustainability of our planet. Climate change, resource depletion, ecosystem degradation and loss of biological diversity are complex environmental problems that require advanced skills and tools to analyze and solve. This discipline is for students that want to learn how ecology and sustainability science can contribute to ecosystem-based management, adaptation and decision making about sustainability from local to global scales. The discipline is also relevant for students seeking an academic career as agents of change for the green transition and sustainable management of ecosystems in the government or the business sector.

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

Students will learn theories and practices underpinning sustainability science and ecosystem-based management. To solve complex sustainability challenges, students will learn how to understand and analyze the interactions between natural and social systems to find solutions and support decisions that can meet the needs of present and future generations while conserving the planet's life supporting systems. Students will get insights in sustainability theories, principles, models and indicators, including those of relevance for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, the European Green Deal, IPCC, IPBES and the climate- and environmental assessments produced by the Arctic Council. Ecosystem-based approaches to research, management and adaptations are generally regarded as the key for addressing complex sustainability challenges, and this program will train students in system thinking by working with ecosystem ecology, spatial ecology, resilience, socio-ecological systems, regime shifts, tipping points, biodiversity and ecosystem services assessment, and adaptive management and governance. Students will also be trained in equitable engagement of citizens, stakeholders and indigenous – and local communities science and management. Skills and tools that students learn in our group depend on the topic chosen for the MSc thesis. We also encourage students to do their MSc project together with external partners at the FRAM center or to link their tasks closely to needs of business or management agencies.

For more information about the research group see: Arctic Sustainability Lab


Selection of one of the following courses is obligatory:


  • BIO-3013 Northern food web ecology – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3015 Arctic Marine System Ecology and Climate Change – 10 ECTS


  • Northern inland waters and global change – 10ECTS

Recommended elective courses


  • BIO-3019 Quantitative methods for molecular systematics and biodiversity analyses - 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3505 Ecological interaction – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3024 Northern Biodiversity Hotspots: taxonomy field courses - 5 ECTS
  • BIO-3516 Food-webs and Fisheries – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3009 Arctic Marine Pollution – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3805/3810 Individual Special Curriculum - 5/10 ECTS


  • BIO-3805/3810 Individual Special Curriculum - 5/10 ECTS

Candidates that have completed a master’s degree in biology in the discipline Environment & Sustainability will have the skills necessary for understanding and analyzing causes and possible solutions to sustainability challenges. They have the capacity to critically reflect upon the different sustainability theories, principles and models that prevails in contemporary environmental policies and in global environmental assessments (e.g. IPCC, IPBES and the Arctic Council’s working groups). Ecological sciences are the fundament for sustainability, and our program will focus on three fields of research that are central for sustainability sciences: ecosystem ecology, landscape ecology and global ecology. Translational skills and system thinking is also important for understanding causal interactions between social- and ecological systems and to identifying solutions and measures that can be implemented by management agencies and businesses. Depending on their MSc topic, students can acquire in-depth knowledge about specific tools used in sustainability science, such as sustainability analytics using big data analysis, carbon – or ecological footprint analysis, environmental impact analysis, spatial ecology & GIS analysis, socio-ecological systems analysis, ecosystem services assessment, climate risk assessment, or different methodologies and approaches for engaging citizens and stakeholders in sustainability science and ecosystem-based management.

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)
10 ECTS obligatory courses **
Second semester (spring)
Animal exp. (5/6 ECTS)***
Elective course (up to 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.
**Students must select one of four courses during their discipline (Autumn: BIO-3013 Northern Food Web Ecology, BIO-3015 Arctic Marine System Ecology and Climate Change, BIO-3111 Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Earth Observation. Spring: BIO-3518 From catchment to coast: Northern inland waters and global change) and take an additional elective course of up to 10 ECTS
*** 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.

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 6026

EU/EEA + Swiss applicants:

Online application, application code:7116

Non-EU/EEA applicants:

Online application, application code: 2082

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.

Bilde av Abu-Alam, Tamer
Abu-Alam, Tamer

Tamer Abu-Alam is an Assistant Prof. of Sustainability Analytics at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology. He teaches courses related to the application of big data in the field of sustainability. Abu-Alam coordinates the CloudEARTHi and Inspiring the Minds projects (projects funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, Erasmus+ & Direktoratet for høgare utdanning og kompetanse). In addition, he contributes to other research projects such as CoastShift and A-AAgora.

Hausner, Vera Helene

Professor in Sustainability Science. My research focus on environmental changes, socio-ecological systems, ecosystem-based approaches to management and climate adaptation, and new technologies and approaches for interdiciplinary and collaborative science in coastal and tundra ecosystems. For research see

Bilde av Wickson, Fern
Wickson, Fern

I am a cross-disciplinary scholar, facilitator and knowledge broker whose work focuses on human-nature relations and the interactions between science, ethics and politics in environmental decision-making.

I am truly awed by the spectacular array of biological and cultural diversity on this precious planet and have dedicated myself to finding ways to care for our collective co-arising in ways that allow all lifeforms to flourish. I adamantly believe that sustainability and resilience require weaving the threads of disciplinary and experiential knowledges together as we work to craft caring ways to be in partnership with the world.

I have a background in ecology and political science, with a BA/BSc from the Australian National University, an Honours degree in Environmental Politics from the University of Tasmania, and a PhD on Environmental Governance awarded by both the natural and social science faculties at the University of Wollongong.

I have worked as an environmental activist, an academic researcher, and an intergovernmental advisor. I have campaigned against the logging of old growth forests, sought solutions for nature-friendly food systems, researched responsible regulation of bio- and nano-technologies, and provided advice on how many whales and seals may be sustainably harvested.  

Currently, I am coordinating the development of a new experience-based Masters program in Ocean Leadership at UiT the Artic University of Norway. I am also a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPBES Transformative Change Assessment, a member of the Norwegian public committee on genetic technologies (NoU Utvalget Genteknologi), faculty member for Homeward Bound (a global leadership initiative for women in STEMM), and owner/operator of The Peaceful Wild studio for yoga and meditation.

More details on my research, publications, lectures, national and international committee work, and CV can be found on my website

Bilde av Lennert, Ann Eileen
Lennert, Ann Eileen

I am part of The Arctic Sustainability Lab, aiming on interdisciplinary and collaborative science to support a sustainable Arctic future.

My work is focused on interdisciplinary knowledge of humans and their relationships with surrounding environments and how this can support natural science and nature-based solutions.

I am currently working on the following projects:

Area of work:

  • Environmental Anthropology
  • Narrative cartography and cognative mapping
  • Community engagement
  • Social Ecological Systems and Ecosystem Services
  • Ecohistory and cultural landscapes
  • Sustainability sciences

I love teaching the following topics:

  • Sustainability sciences
  • Ecosystembased management and knowledge systems
  • Values and sustainability ethics
  • Cognitive mapping and narrative cartography
  • Science communication
  • Social ecological systems