AT-324 Detection of Organo-Chemical Pollutants in the Arctic Environment (10 ECTS)

Fieldwork in Van Mijenfjorden

The course will introduce students to preparation and quantification procedures for quantitative organo-chemical trace analysis and will also provide detailed information on feasibility and restrictions of modern trace analytical technologies.

Reading list

April 12, 2023
May 31, 2023
Spring semester (April–May), annually
10 ECTS with AT-824
Letter grade (A through F)
Scientific articles and reports. See AT-324 reading list (200 pages)
10/20 students (AT-324/824 in total)
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue. Non-programmable calculator
October 15, 2022

UNIS contact person: Gijsbert Breedveld

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant master programme. Basic knowledge of organic environmental chemistry or successful participation in AT-331 and AT-330.

Academic content:

Today, a large number of organic chemicals have been identified as contaminants of concern in the Arctic environment. Their fate and transport in the environment from both long-range and local sources are a key area of research. Despite often being found at low concentrations, they can have a serious impact on the ecosystem. Detection, identification and quantification of these chemicals at ultra-trace levels requires specialized sampling and analytical procedures.

The course will introduce students to the most commonly used methods for the preparation and quantification of organic contaminants in samples from the Arctic. What is feasible with various methods and what are the limitations and potential complicating factors. Focus will be put on demonstration of methods and discussion of challenges and pitfalls through practical exercises and experiments with Arctic environmental samples collected during field work in the vicinity of Longyearbyen.

The students will be introduced to the general scientific principles of modern analytical quantification methods for organic chemicals; learn through active field and laboratory work about the importance of sampling/ sample treatment as an integrated part of trace analyses. They will evaluate the complete process leading from sampling site selection, sampling and quantification based upon modern analytical technology and how these data can be used in estimating environmental risk.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • appreciate the role of analytical chemistry in determining fate and transport of organic contaminants for the overall environmental risk assessment in Arctic environments
  • understand the challenges of sampling and analyses of Arctic samples given the often low concentrations present
  • understand the requirements underlying modern analytical chemical methods for the quantitative determination of environmental pollutants in Arctic environments
  • appreciate the logistical and technological requirements for conducting field work on environmental pollutant research under Arctic conditions.
  • understand the role of organic environmental chemistry in risk assessment of contaminants in the Arctic.

Upon completing the course, the students will be able to:

  • plan suitable strategies for sampling organic contaminants in the Arctic environment and perform fieldwork to collect these samples
  • select methods for a sound and reliable determination and quantification of organic pollutants based on available analytical instrumentation
  • evaluate the quality of published data based on method validation and quality control (QC) criteria.
  • critically evaluate the quality of published data based upon QC data in the respective references
  • apply uncertainty in the data for the applied analytical methods as a framework for subsequent statistical evaluation and risk assessment.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will be able to:

  • identify appropriate sampling and analysis methods for organic chemicals of environmental concern.
  • provide valuable knowledge as team player for relevant environmental research activities on distribution processes and effects of anthropogenic pollutants in the Arctic


Learning activities:

The course extends over ca 6 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AT-824.

The AT-324 students must prepare a written laboratory report on assigned experiments in the form of a scientific report (2500 words; background, motivation, tables, figures, and key references).

Total lecture hours: 30 hours.
Laboratory work: 60 hours.
Field excursions: 3 days

Compulsory learning activities:

Attending all lectures and seminars, and field excursions.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Written report 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 2022

Fieldwork in Van Mijenfjorden

AT-324/824 students on fieldwork in Van Mijenfjorden. Photo: Roland Kallenborn/UNIS.

Scooter excursion Svalbard

AT-324/824 students enroute to fieldwork. Photo: Roland Kallenborn/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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Arctic Education and Research for Global Challenges

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