Arctic Biology (AB)

Despite the apparent harshness of the high Arctic, many organisms are well adapted to this environment. The fauna and flora of Svalbard include more than 1,800 marine invertebrate species, 1,200 terrestrial or freshwater invertebrate species and over 170 higher plant species in addition to the 22 mammal and 28 bird species.

UNIS emphasizes the biological studies (taxonomy, diversity, ecology, physiology) of the fauna and flora of Svalbard related to the physical and chemical environment. Easy access to key habitats gives students and staff at UNIS a unique opportunity to identify and quantify environmental threats in addition to gaining basic knowledge of the Arctic.

Field activities are undertaken year-round in combination with classroom activities and laboratory exercises. This integrated approach provides students with a first-hand experience of the biological processes and the natural history of the terrestrial, limnic and marine flora and fauna in an Arctic environment.

The Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) has awarded UNIS, together with University of Bergen and Institute of Marine Research a Centre of Excellence in Higher Education (SFU). SFU is a national Norwegian prestige programme to promote standards in higher education, and implies a focussed and long-term commitment to stimulate the teaching and learning methods at bachelor, master, and PhD level.

Part of the motivation for BioCEED (Centre of Excellence in Biology Education) is to further develop the integration of field-based activities and the link to ongoing research in our education. The first noticeable change is a reorganisation of our bachelor courses. The marine biology course (AB-202) is offered in the spring semester and the Arctic Ecology course (AB-204) in the autumn semester. This enables us to improve the overall field component of the courses by linking them more effectively to ongoing research, as well as giving a tighter link between courses offered in the same semester.

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Bachelor course combinations

Spring semester

Autumn semester

AB-202 and AB-203 AB-201 and AB-204

AB-203 and AB-207

AB-203 and AB-208

AB-207 and AB-208

AB-206 *

* Preparatory course recommended for students admitted into AB-201

Recommended workload is 30 ECTS per semester.

Bachelor Courses overview

ID Course Name Duration Start Date
AB-201 AB-201 Terrestrial Arctic Biology (15 ECTS) Autumn semester (July–November/December), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-202 AB-202 Marine Arctic Biology (15 ECTS) Spring semester (January–June), annually January 1, 1970
AB-203 AB-203 Arctic Environmental Management (15 ECTS) Spring semester (January–April), annually January 1, 1970
AB-204 AB-204 Arctic Population Ecology (15 ECTS) Autumn semester (August–December), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-206 AB-206 Introduction to Svalbard’s terrestrial flora and fauna (5 ECTS) Autumn semester (July), annually January 1, 1970
AB-207 AB-207 Research Project in Arctic Biology (15 ECTS) All year round
AB-208 AB-208 Internship in Arctic Biology (15 ECTS) Spring semester, annually January 1, 1970

Master Courses overview

ID Course Name Duration Start Date
AB-320 AB-320 Arctic Marine Zooplankton (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (August–September), every second year. Next course: 2020
AB-321 AB-321 Ecology of Arctic Marine Benthos (10 ECTS) Autumn semester, every second year. Next course: 2019 January 1, 1970
AB-322 AB-322 Flux of Matter and Energy from Sea to Land (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (June–July), every second year. Next course: 2020
AB-323 AB-323 Light Climate and Primary Productivity in the Arctic (10 ECTS) Spring semester (May–June), every second year. Next course: 2020
AB-325 AB-325 Biotelemetric Methods (10 ECTS) Summer/autumn semester (June–July), every second year. Next course: 2019 January 1, 1970
AB-326 AB-326 Arctic Plant Ecology (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (June–August), every second year. Next course: 2019 January 1, 1970
AB-327 AB-327 Arctic Microbiology (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (July–August), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-329 AB-329 Arctic Winter Ecology (10 ECTS) Spring semester (April–May), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-330 AB-330 Ecosystems in Ice Covered Waters (10 ECTS) Spring semester (April–May), every second year. Next course: 2019 January 1, 1970
AB-332 AB-332 Arctic Marine Molecular Ecology (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (September–October), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-333 AB-333 Freshwater Ecology of Arctic Lakes and Ponds (10 ECTS) Spring semester (February–March), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-334 AB-334 Underwater Robotics and Polar Night Biology (10 ECTS) Spring semester (January–February), every second year. Next course: Spring 2021 (cancelled in 2019).
AB-336 AB-336 Arctic Mycology (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (July–August), annually. The course is cancelled in 2019.
AB-337 AB-337 Seminars in Arctic Biology (2 ECTS) Every semester, annually.
AB-338 AB-338 Life History Adaptations to Seasonality (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (May–June), every second year. Next course: 2020
AB-340 AB-340 Climate Change Biology (10 ECTS) Spring semester (January–February), annually January 1, 1970

PhD Courses

ID Course Name Duration Start Date
AB-820 AB-820 Arctic Marine Zooplankton (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (August–September), every second year. Next course: 2020
AB-821 AB-821 Ecology of Arctic Marine Benthos (10 ECTS) Autumn semester, every second year. Next course: 2019 January 1, 1970
AB-823 AB-823 Light Climate and Primary Productivity in the Arctic (10 ECTS) Spring semester (May–June), every second year. Next course: 2020
AB-825 AB-825 Biotelemetric Methods (10 ECTS) Summer/autumn semester (June–July), every second year. Next course: 2019 January 1, 1970
AB-826 AB-826 Arctic Plant Ecology (10 ECTS) Summer/autumn semester (June–August), every second year. Next course: 2019 January 1, 1970
AB-827 AB-827 Arctic Microbiology (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (July–August), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-829 AB-829 Arctic Winter Ecology (10 ECTS) Spring semester (April–May), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-830 AB-830 Ecosystems in Ice Covered Waters (10 ECTS) Spring semester (April–May), every second year. Next course: 2019 January 1, 1970
AB-832 AB-832 Arctic Marine Molecular Ecology (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (September–October), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-833 AB-833 Freshwater Ecology of Arctic Lakes and Ponds (10 ECTS) Spring semester (February–March), annually. January 1, 1970
AB-834 AB-834 Underwater Robotics and Polar Night Biology (10 ECTS) Spring semester (January–February), every second year. Next course: Spring 2021 (cancelled in 2019).
AB-836 AB-836 Arctic Mycology (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (July–August), annually. The course is cancelled in 2019.
AB-837 AB-837 Seminars in Arctic Biology (2 ECTS) Every semester, annually.
AB-838 AB-838 Life History Adaptations to Seasonality (10 ECTS) Autumn semester (May–June), every second year. Next course: 2020
AB-840 AB-840 Climate Change Biology (10 ECTS) Spring semester (January–February), annually January 1, 1970

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