AG-209 The Tectonic and Sedimentary History of Svalbard (15 ECTS)

People on ship deck

January 10, 2022
May 30, 2022
Spring semester (January–May), annually.
Letter grade (A through F)
Book chapters, articles, ca. 900 pages
Fieldwork, maximum NOK 1400 (7 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
10/20 students
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
October 15, 2021


Maria Jensen
Maria Jensen
Department leader - Arctic Geology

Course requirements:

60 ECTS within general natural science, of which 30 ECTS within the field of geology/geosciences. The applicant must be enrolled in a programme at Bachelor level, or document that the courses are approved into the applicant’s current study programme.

The course should be combined with AG-222 (15 ECTS), and the two courses are designed to complement each other.

Academic content:

In the Svalbard Archipelago there is a well-developed and well exposed stratigraphic record that comprises Precambrian, Late Palaeozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic strata. The course uses published research from Svalbard combined with visiting key sites in the field to introduce students to this unique geological history “book”, which also provides onshore access to formations equivalent to the subsurface in the Barents Sea. The sedimentary rock record in Svalbard comprises siliciclastic rocks, carbonates and evaporates and we study a rift-basin setting, a foreland basin setting and the fold and thrust belt.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • be familiar with the tectonic and sedimentary evolution of Svalbard from the Precambrian to the Cenozoic, with focus on the tectonic and sedimentary development since the Devonian
  • be able to describe the main changes in depositional environments in Svalbard and the adjacent Barents Sea, the main tectonic phases, and the implications for exploitation of geological resources (particularly hydrocarbon exploration in the Barents Sea and coal mining in Svalbard).

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • be able to do sedimentological logging, description, and analysis of relevant formations both in the field and in cores
  • be able to describe large-scale geological structures such as folds and faults in the field and draw geological sketches and profiles
  • be able to recognize common fossils from the geological record in Svalbard
  • be able to do simple analyses of seismic sections and understand how seismic data corresponds to rock types visited in the field
  • be able to carry out small independent research projects on the geology of Svalbard and present findings to others.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • be able to conduct fieldwork under Arctic conditions, and to combine different types of data into a joint result
  • demonstrate active participation in group work and be able to communicate fieldwork results through oral presentations and scientific writing
  • be able to read and analyse scientific literature and compare results to collected data and visited sites in the field.

Learning activities:

The course extends over a full semester. Initially, students attend one week of compulsory Arctic survival and safety training (AS-101).

Early in the semester focus is on the theoretical background knowledge. Students read scientific papers and background book chapters, analyse examples of geological data, and discuss data and readings in class. When the light returns focus will change to field trips, where students use the knowledge they gained earlier to put their own field observations into a context. Field trips comprise excursion parts and parts with independent student observations. Students write a field report and a term project. The latter is a small independent research project carried out on the basis of data from joint field trips, separate fieldwork or analysis of e.g., cores, seismic data, fossils or other available material. Term projects are presented as posters at the end of the semester.

Total lecture/classroom activity hours: 60 hours.
Total seminar hours:
10 hours.
Excursions (day-trips): 3-4 days (partly in collaboration with AG-222)
Fieldwork (overnight trips): 7 days (partly in collaboration with AG-222)

Compulsory learning activities:

Field excursions, field seminar presentations, completed course portfolio.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Term project; poster presentation 40%
Written exam  3 hours 60%

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: 15 October 2021


Lecture out in Svalbard nature

AG-209 lecture in the field. Photo: Maria Jensen/UNIS.

Geology fieldwork in Svalbard

AG-209 fieldwork. Photo: Maria Jensen/UNIS.

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


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