AB-834 Underwater Robotics and Polar Night Biology (10 ECTS)

Students preparing robot

Spring semester (January–February), every second year. Cancelled in 2023.
10 ECTS with AB-334
Letter grade (A through F)
Curriculum/reading list; Ca. 450 pages
Fieldwork, NOK 2000 (10 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
10/20 students (AB-334/834 in total)
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue


Geir Johnsen (Photo: NTNU)
Geir Johnsen
Adjunct Professor, Marine Optics
Jørgen Berge (photo: UiT)
Jørgen Berge
Adjunct Professor, Arctic Marine biology

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant PhD programme in biology or technology.

Academic content:

This course consist of 3 modules;
(1) Underwater robotics and use of different sensors,
(2) Mapping and monitoring of Arctic bio-geo and chemical objects of interest,
(3) Polar night marine biology.

The students will gain insight into the ecology of main Arctic marine organismal groups. The course has a special emphasis on hands-on use of enabling technology as well as sensor techniques important for understanding the Arctic ecosystem.

Learning outcomes:

The course will generate basic knowledge and “hands on” skills in the use of and interpretation of data from underwater robots and sensors in Polar night biology applications?

Upon completing the course, the students will have thorough knowledge of arctic marine ecosystem processes during the polar night, and insight into automated platforms and sensor technology/methods on how to measure/monitor these processes.

Upon completing the course, the students will have the ability to plan and conduct marine research using underwater robotics. In particular, concerning underwater robotics the students will be introduced to design, configuration, and hands-on operation of advanced platforms, both autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), during the polar night. Use and interpretation of sensor data will also be important part of course. A main ambition of the course is also to provide the students with broad and thorough insight into the biological patters and processes that characterize the Arctic polar night.

General competences:
A main ambition of the course is also to provide the students with broad and thorough insight into the biological patters and processes that characterize the Arctic polar night. Scientific question will be developed during the course, and platforms/sensors deployed accordingly. Upon completing the course, the students will have received training to enhance their ability to select appropriate sampling methods, to construct sampling plans, and to prepare data for discussion and evaluation in the context of the study hypotheses. Students on AB-834 will get training in critical thinking and scientific writing.

Learning activities:

The course extends over 5 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AB-334.

The course will include a practical deployment of a research mission using the available platforms / sensors. Research question for the deployment will be developed during the course together with the teachers. The report is developed in the form of a scientific paper.

Students will have hands-on experience with various automated platforms, including ROV, AUV and USV. Insight and experience from operating advanced sensors on these platforms, including optical and acoustical instruments.

Total lecture hours: 30 hours.
Total seminar hours: 30 hours.
Laboratory work and excursions: 10 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Field excursions and laboratory work.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
 Written report (scientific paper manuscript) 50%
 Written exam  4 hours  50%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course. Each assessment is graded, and subsequently combined into a single grade. Partial grades for each assessment will be available.

Application deadline:

Sampling during the Polar night in Ny-Ålesund

Sampling during the Polar night in Ny-Ålesund. Photo: Jan Sivert Hauglid/UNIS.

Students preparing robot

AB-334/834 students getting the robot ready at the Ny-Ålesund harbour. Photo: Jan Sivert Hauglid/UNIS.

Working in the lab with ultrared light

AB-334/834 lab work in Ny-Ålesund. Photo: Jan Sivert Hauglid/UNIS.

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The University Centre in Svalbard
Telephone: +47 79 02 33 00
Student inquiries: study@unis.no
E-mail: post@unis.no / webmaster@unis.no
Address: P.O. Box 156 N-9171 Longyearbyen
Org. no. 985 204 454


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