AT-830 Arctic Environmental Toxicology (10 ECTS)

Lunch break in Adventdalen

How to apply

Spring semester (March–April), annually. Cancelled spring 2021.
10 ECTS with AT-330
Letter grade (A through F)
10/20 students (AT-330/830 in total)
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
October 15, 2020


Bjørn Munro Jenssen. Photo: Eirik Berger
Bjørn Munro Jenssen
Adjunct Professor, Environmental Toxicology

UNIS contact person: Arne Aalberg

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant PhD programme. Background in toxicology, ecotoxicology (AT-210 Arctic Environmental Pollution or equivalent), and environmental chemistry or biology or biotechnology.

Academic content:

Arctic species have evolved biochemical, physiological and ecological traits specific for surviving in the harsh Arctic environment. Pollutants can be toxic, or interfere with biological processes through other mechanisms, thus reducing their fitness and causing resultant changes in biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Effects can occur at all biological organization levels, from the subcellular level to the ecosystem level.

Specific topics:

  • Uptake, biotransformation and excretion of pollutants in Arctic organisms
  • Effects of pollutants in organisms in relation to the specific Arctic environmental conditions
  • Effects of pollutants on organismal acclimatization and adaptations to the Arctic environment
  • How effects can propagate from the subcellular level to population, community and ecosystem levels
  • How climate change and pollutants may interact in affecting Arctic organisms and ecosystems
  • Specific ecotoxic effects of the major classes of pollutants, such as persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, petroleum oil, and novel man-made pollutants, on Arctic organisms
  • The susceptibility of Arctic organisms and ecosystems to pollutants as compared to other organisms and ecosystems
  • Effects of pollutants on humans in the Arctic

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • an advanced academic knowledge on the effects of the major groups of pollutants that imposes a threat to Arctic organisms, including humans, and ecosystems, and on how contaminants in combination with other human imposed stressors, such as for instance climate change, affect Arctic biota and ecosystems.
  • in-depth knowledge of how indigenous people (Northerners) are exposed to and affected by anthropogenic pollutants via consumption of traditional food
  • knowledge on how to extract available scientific knowledge within the field, to produce an up-to date scientific review essay on a specific self-chosen topic within Arctic environmental toxicology.

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

  • interpret effects of anthropogenic pollutants on the organismal level (molecular, cellular and physiological) in key Arctic organisms, including humans, and in populations of Arctic organisms and in Arctic ecosystems.
  • interpret which properties of pollutants that make them potential threats to Arctic organisms.
  • carry through advanced scientific literature searching, and produce a written scientific essay (“mini-review”) based on up-to-date available scientific literature within the field of Arctic environmental toxicology.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • within the field of environmental toxicology on an advanced level, be provided for future positions within nature and pollution management, research, or the industry.

Learning activities:

The course extends over ca. 6 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AT-330.

The students must prepare an essay formatted as s research “mini-review” (ca. 4000 words excluding references, figures & tables) on a chosen research topic. The students must give a lecture (45 minutes) on the topic of the research paper manuscript, aimed towards the general public and decision makers.

Self-study and preparations: approx. 90 hours.
Total lecture hours: 24 hours.
Student-led seminars: 27 hours.
Field / lab work: 3–5 days.
Essay: approx. 90 hours (30% of the course).

Compulsory learning activities:

Seminars and field work. Oral lecture of the essay.
The essay must be handed in prior to the exam date.

 All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Essay 30%
Written exam 3 hours 70%

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 2020

Lunch break in Adventdalen

A quick lunch break during AT-330/830 fieldwork in Adventdalen. Photo: Bjørn Munro Jenssen/UNIS.

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The University Centre in Svalbard
Telephone: +47 79 02 33 00
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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