autumn 2022
BIO-3020 Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology - 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 relevant for students belonging to the Master in Biology programme and especially for students taking the Arctic Marine Ecotoxicology specialisation as well as the Arctic Animal Physiology or Arctic Marine Ecology. 

The course is available as a singular course.

Maximum number of participants: 30

Admission requirements

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

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

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:

BIO-2015 Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology 1 10 stp
BIO-2012 Fundamentals of Ecotoxicolgy I 10 stp

Course content

The course covers general principles of ecotoxicology through lectures, seminars, and a practical component. The course is essentially dealing with aquatic ecotoxicology, but terrestrial case studies can also be used. 

More specifically, the course deals with environmental contaminants and their fate in the environment, including emissions, transport of contaminants and effects in biota from cellular to community/ecosystem levels. Lectures provide an introduction to ecotoxicological approaches, toxicity testing, general concepts and theories (e.g. mode of actions, mixture toxicities, ecotoxicological modelling), and a part on risk assessment. Seminars focus on studying more in detail specific contaminants or approaches. The seminars are organized as case studies with scientific papers or datasets to read in advance and directed group discussions in class.  

The practical component of the course allows to acquire practical skills related to experimental design, sampling and analytical procedures and apply theoretical knowledge. Every student is writing a report over the course of the semester with weekly deadlines to hand-in drafts of specific report section. Written feedback is given to every student to progress and improve their writing skills and the quality of their report. This work provides significant training in scientific writing and presentation of research results.  

Teamwork building is also an important aspect of the practical component of the course as well as the seminars. 

Objectives of the course


  • Be able to define and discuss specific terms within the field such as toxicity, bioavailability, bioaccumulation, biomagnification, etc..  
  • Have knowledge about all classes of contaminants (persistent organic pollutants, microplastics, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, etc.) including their sources and particular effects on living organisms. 
  • Have knowledge about the chemical properties that determine their stability, persistence and fate in the environment as well as interactions with organisms and trophic transfer processes.  
  • Be able to explain how contaminants interact with organisms from mode of actions to organismal and population/community level effects  
  • Be familiar with a range of methods used in toxicity testing (e.g. LC50, in vitro, in vivo, mixture toxicity) and can discuss their relevance. 
  • have knowledge about the approaches to environmental risk assessment and the responsible authorities. 


  • Know standard practical procedures during experimentation, from biological sample collection to data analysis in the laboratory, understand their rationale and execute them to preserve sample integrity and quality. 
  • Be able to read and critically execute laboratory protocols on sampling procedures and sample analysis, such as making solutions, dilutions, and determine the appropriate labware to use. 
  • Understand and apply equations in data treatment to transform raw data into final results (e.g. enzyme activities). 
  • Be able to perform basic data treatment using Excel to process raw data (e.g. calculation of enzyme activities) 
  • Be able to write a report in a scientific concise style (including data representation and discuss critically own data in the light of existing knowledge from literature). 

General competence 

  • Develop the ability to interpret ecotoxicology data (such as contaminant levels, biomarkers in biota) within a specific environmental context (monitoring, experiment etc.) and problematic (baseline study, exposure experiment, etc.). 
  • Develop teamwork skills in the field and laboratory situations. 
  • Acquire confidence to work autonomously in the laboratory and take decisions based on few instructions.  
  • Develop the ability to plan in the context of a long-term project with multiple steps. 
  • Be able to search and use relevant literature 
  • Scientific writing 

Language of instruction and examination

Language of instruction is English. It is allowed for Scandinavian students to write their reports and written exam in a Scandinavian language.

Teaching methods

Lectures (13 x 90 min), seminars (6 x 90 min) including seminar preparation (1 hours per seminar), experimental work (2 days per student), laboratory work (3 days per student), 1 x pc-lab (6h) and home assignments (weekly submission of report sections).

Information to incoming exchange students

This module is open for exchange students with bachelor degree in Biology.

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: Duration: Grade scale:
Off campus exam 06.12.2022 13:00 (Hand in) A–E, fail F
School exam 16.12.2022 09:00
4 Hours A–E, fail F

Coursework requirements:

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

Laboratory report Approved – not approved
Participation to practical work Approved – not approved
UiT Exams homepage

More info about the coursework requirements

  • Participation to at least 3 different days of the practical work (experiment, laboratory days) is mandatory. 
  • Submission of report section drafts on a weekly basis through CANVAS. The teacher provides feedback to allow students to improve their report until final submission (as part of the exam). If the numbers of student is exceeding 10, a different peer-review arrangement may be considered. The submission is mandatory to take the final examination. 

Re-sit examination

A re-sit examination will be arranged for students that did not pass the written examination. However, no re-sit will be organised for the report.  

Info about the weighting of parts of the examination

Laboratory report ca. 50% of final grade

Written exam ca. 50% of final grade

Each assessment will be given a grade in percentage (%) according to defined criteria and transformed into a letter (A-F). The final grade will be based on the numerical weighted average of the report and the written exam and expressed as letter (A-F).

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: BIO-3020
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet