autumn 2023
BIO-8621 Sustainability Science - 6 ECTS

Type of course

PhD course aimed at students enrolled in the research school "Changing Arctic".

The course is available as a singular course.

Admission requirements

Who can apply as a singular course student:

  • PhD student enrolled at another institution than UiT. PhD students must upload a document from their university stating that there are registered PhD students. This group of applicants does not have to prove English proficiency and are exempt from semester fee.
  • Holders of a master´s degree of five years or 3+2 years (or equivalent) may be admitted. These applicants must upload a Master´s Diploma with Diploma Supplement / English translation of the diploma. Applicants from listed countries must document proficiency in English. To find out if this applies to you, see the following list: Proficiency in English must be documented - list of countries. For more information on accepted English proficiency tests and scores, as well as exemptions from the English proficiency tests, please see the following document: Proficiency in english - PhD level studies

PhD students enrolled in the Changing Arctic Research School will be given priority.

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-3021 Sustainability Science 6 ects

Course content

This course aims to train students in creative and critical thinking in sustainability sciences. It focuses on concepts, research methods and tools relevant for the UNs Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, the Post2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and/or the global environmental assessments supporting these policies (IPCC and IPBES). The course also builds sustainability competences as defined by the EU and UNESCO. The students will learn key competencies in sustainability science, including systems thinking, to formulate current and future sustainability challenges as socioecological problems, to identify feedback mechanisms, evaluate intervention options, and to identify pathways to sustainable futures. Students will reflect upon the values and views underpinning the arguments and assumptions about the sustainability challenges, including the fairness and inclusiveness of measures and actions proposed to analyse and address these challenges. A main activity in this course is to write a scientific report that is relevant for the students’ own research and that (potentially) could be published in a peer review journal.

Objectives of the course

Knowledge and understanding:

  • Can evaluate how recent scholarly debates in sustainability science relate to their own field of research
  • Critically judge the use of different methodologies for analyzing key components and interactions in socioecological systems and knows frameworks and concepts for analyzing them.
  • Demonstrate how sustainability challenges are framed (by/with/for whom, where, when why), including the sustainability values underpinning the different arguments
  • Demonstrate the ability to translate how the United Nations’ SDGs are interconnected in their own field of research.


  • Can use system - and critical thinking to define and reframe the sustainability challenge and identify opportunities that have the greatest potential to trigger change for sustainability
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply the appropriate research methodology for addressing a sustainability challenge relevant to the students’ field of research.
  • Develop a scientific report demonstrating ability to apply concepts and research methodology in sustainability science at a high international standard.

General competence:

  • Demonstrate creative and critical thinking in the use of concepts, methods, and tools in sustainability science, and reflect upon their underlying definitions and values.
  • Judge and weigh arguments for selecting specific research methods of socio-ecological systems.
  • Capacity to reflect about how the students’ own work is related to the broader field and sustainability science and the SDGs

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

Lectures/videos - 24 hrs, 4 hour discussion seminar, and 3 seminars x 4 hr where students outline and present their work with supervision (34 hours). The rest of the workload includes reading (30 hours) and writing the assignment as a scientific report (80 hours).

Online options can be made on request.


Examination: Date: Grade scale:
Assignment 06.12.2023 13:00 (Hand in) Passed / Not Passed

Coursework requirements:

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

Pre assignment Approved – not approved
Written outline for research plan Approved – not approved
Preparation for seminars Approved – not approved
UiT Exams homepage

More info about the coursework requirements

Pre assignment: PhD candidates respond to questions relating to their values regarding sustainability, equity, and nature (including information on candidate background, thesis, expectations etc.)

The home exam is being prepared through two mandatory assignments in a supervised writing process:

Written outline for research plan: Written outline for the research plan, including title, abstract, outline, choice of method etc. for students’ own course project

Preparation for seminars: Students should prepare for the three joint supervision seminars, including oral presentations or peer review of drafts from other students.

More info about the assignment

Scientific report. A single student or two students may write a common report. Supervisors could be included as authors if contributing to the draft. In such case, a signed co-author table is required to document who contributed with what.

Re-sit examination

No resit exam provided.
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 6
  • Course code: BIO-8621
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet