AT-830 Arctic Environmental Toxicology (10 ECTS)






October 15, 2023


February 26, 2024


April 11, 2024


Spring semester (Block 2: Week 9-15)

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

Grade:Letter grade (A through F)
Course Cost:None
Course Capacity Min/Max:10/25 students (AT-330/830 in total)
Language of instruction:English
Examination support material:Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue

Course requirements

Enrolment in a relevant PhD programme. Background in toxicology, ecotoxicology, 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:


  • the major groups of pollutants that impose a threat to Arctic organisms and ecosystems, and how specific contaminant groups affect molecular, cellular, and physiological processes in Arctic organisms, Arctic populations, and ecological processes in the Arctic
  • effects of anthropogenic pollutants on the organismal level (molecular, cellular and physiological) in key Arctic organisms, in populations of Arctic organisms and in Arctic ecosystems
  • which properties of pollutants that make them potential threats to Arctic organisms  
  • effects of relevant anthropogenic pollutants in humans in the Arctic


  • conduct advanced scientific literature searching.
  • collaborate with peers in the interface between environmental toxicology and chemistry.
  • critically assess the effects of anthropogenic pollutants on Arctic organisms, populations and ecosystems, and humans in the Arctic.
  • participate in fieldwork on relevant issues related to Arctic environmental toxicology

General competences

  • have general competence within the field of environmental toxicology on an advanced level, provided for future positions within nature and pollution management, research, the industry, or for further PhD studies.

Learning activities

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

Group work on presentations and discussions of selected scientific articles related to Arctic environmental toxicology.

Group work among PhD students (if multiple PhD-students) to produce a review lecture aimed towards the general public and decision-makers (30-45 minutes) on a relevant topic within Arctic environmental toxicology.


  • Total lecture hours: 21 hours
  • Student-led seminars: 37 hours
  • Field /lab work: 3-5 days
  • Self-study and preparations: approx. 100 hours
  • Student group lectures incl. preparations: approx. 30 hours

Compulsory learning activities

  • Seminars
  • Field work
  • Group work (lecture) on group work related to Arctic environmental toxicology.

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


MethodDuration Percentage of final grade
Group work lecture 20 %
Written exam3 hours80 %

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.

Student life

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