autumn 2022
BIO-3021 Sustainability Science - 10 ECTS

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1st of June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester.

Exchange students and Fulbright students: 15 of October for the the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

The course is mandatory for MSc students in biology on the Ecology and Sustainability specialization.

The course is available as a singular course.

Admission requirements

Local admission, application code 9371 -  Master's level singular course.

Admission requires a Bachelor`s degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification, with a major in biology of minimum 80 ECTS.  

Recommended prerequisites: coursework in either ecology or sustainability science at BSc level.

Course overlap

If you pass the examination in this course, you will get an reduction in credits (as stated below), if you previously have passed the following courses:

BED-6018NETT Environment and substainability 4 stp

Course content

In this course we explore the causes and consequences of the global environmental changes and the sustainability challenges that society is facing as a result of these changes. The course introduces students to sustainability science and some of the key concepts and ideas articulated in global environmental assessments (IPBES, IPCC and Arctic Council working groups) and environmental policies (the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN Convention of Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, and Convention on Biological Diversity and the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework). We emphasize the need to understand interactions between ecological and social systems in the pursuit of addressing sustainability challenges.

The aim is to integrate theory, practice and reflections revolving around 5 interrelated topics: 1. Sustainability and UN sustainable development goals, 2. Climate-change, ecology and policy, 3. Biodiversity, ecosystem services and policy, 4. Resilience,  5. Environmental footprints and sustainable solutions. Global environmental policies and assessments promotes inclusiveness with respect to indigenous - and local communities, and is therefore a cross-cutting issue in all these modules.

Objectives of the course

Knowledge and understanding

  • Can reflect upon the scientific ideas and practices of sustainability. 
  • Summarize the human-induced changes of the global ecology, including the risks of surpassing thresholds defined as planetary boundaries. 
  • Explain the key concepts and ideas underlying the Paris Agreement and the International Panel of Climate Change, including scenarios for climate change research and assessment and policies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. 
  • Explain the key concepts and ideas underlying the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework and the International Panel of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, including nature-based solutions for mitigating and adapting to climate change. 
  • Appraise the role of resilience of socio-ecological systems for sustainability. 
  • Compare the different environmental footprint indicators for assessing sustainable solutions and the green transition. 


  • Evaluate and compare different models, metrics and indicators of sustainability including relevant trade-offs and synergies between UN’s Sustainability Development Goals. 
  • Apply systems thinking by using frameworks for socio-ecological systems to analyze causes of change and to deal with sustainability challenges. 
  • Think creatively about potential climate actions while balancing with other UN’s Sustainability Development Goals. 
  • Apply future thinking by developing roadmaps to meet the goals set in the Paris agreement and the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework. 
  • Calculate environmental footprints to compare solutions for sustainability.  
  • Discuss and critically analyze sustainability solutions for a green transition, including the values and ethics underpinning these different choices. 
  • Identify drivers that erode or build resilience of socio-ecological systems.  


  • Reflect on ethical perspectives of sustainability and UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially considering the inclusiveness of local and indigenous people. 
  • Use credible sources to inform debates about sustainability and climate change and increase awareness of misinformation and reflections on interacting with news online. 
  • Participate in science-policy dialogues relating to biological diversity, climate change and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  
  • Communicate sustainability science in scientific blogs, short essays and oral presentations.   
  • Work collaboratively by planning team meetings and deliverables by using a Gantt chart, assigning roles and tasks, apply code of collaboration, and evaluate the team and personal performance. 

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

The total coursework is 300 hrs. Diverse teaching methods using online resources, readings and group activities combined with videos/lectures and one flipped classroom for each module.

Time estimates: flipped classroom - 10hrs; videos or lectures - 12 hrs; Quiz - 10hrs; work assignement for each module- 50 hrs; group exam and individual assignments are estimated to 75 hrs. The rest includes reading and preparation to the oral exam. 

Information to incoming exchange students

This course is open for inbound exchange students who meet the admission requirements.

Do you have questions about this module?  Please check the following website to contact the course coordinator for exchange students at the faculty:


Examination: Date: Weighting: Duration: Grade scale:
Off campus exam 13.09.2022 09:00 (Hand out)
04.11.2022 12:00 (Hand in)
4/10 1 Weeks A–E, fail F
Off campus exam 25.11.2022 09:00 (Hand out)
09.12.2022 13:00 (Hand in)
6/10 1 Weeks A–E, fail F

Coursework requirements:

To take an examination, the student must have passed the following coursework requirements:

Work assignement per module Approved – not approved
UiT Exams homepage

More info about the coursework requirements

One work assignment for each module (5 in total) either as short group work reports or essays/scientific blogs (approx. 500 words each).

Re-sit examination

Re-sit exam is offered to those who have already delivered the group assignment, but that still need to complete the individual written assignment. 
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: BIO-3021
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet