Arctic Animal Physiology - Biology - master


Have you ever wondered how arctic animals cope with climatic variability, extreme light-dark cycles and large seasonal fluctuations in food availability? Or which physiological adaptations aquatic birds and mammals have acquired in diving? By studying arctic animal physiology, you can find the answers as well as contribute to new science.


Varighet:2 Years
Location: Tromsø
Credits (ECTS):120
Qualification:Master`s of Science in Biology.
Admission requirements:Bachelor`s degree with a major in biology (min 80 ECTS)
Application deadline:Nordic applicants: 15 April/1 November
International applicants: 1 December
Application code:Nordic applicants: 6001
International applicants: 2004
How to Apply

The Master`s discipline in Arctic animal physiology focuses on physiological adaptations to life at high latitudes in fishes, birds and mammals. Particular emphasis is placed on how these animals cope with the climatic variability, extreme light-dark cycles and large seasonal fluctuations in food availability that are all typical of their environment. Physiological adaptations of diving birds and mammals, which are abundant at high-latitudes, also represents an important topic.

Students will be introduced to and given the opportunity to specialize within many aspects of animal physiology (e.g., chronobiology, endocrinology, reproductive physiology, thermoregulation, nutrition/digestion, cardiovascular physiology), with approaches spanning from studies of molecular and cellular/subcellular mechanisms, to integrative, whole-animal studies that may be conducted in the field or as experimental studies in the laboratory (or as a combination of these). For this purpose, specialized laboratories and approved research animal facilities, where several relevant species of fishes, birds and mammals are maintained, are available.

Master`s projects will normally form a part of ongoing projects which encompass both curiosity-driven basic research projects and projects important for production and management of natural resources in aquatic and terrestrial environments. Students will be expected to participate actively in seminars that are given within the research group, as well as at the institute.

For more information about the research group see:

Arctic animal physiology

Recommended elective courses for the Master's discipline:


  • BIO-3014 Biological rhythms - 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3009 Arctic Marine Pollution - 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3007 Ecotoxicology -10 ECTS
  • BIO-3506 Top predators - 10 ECTS (every second year)
  • Bio-3018 Environmental Molecular Genetics - 20 ECTS (every second year)
  • BIO-3013 Northern food web ecology (autumn) - 10 ECTS
  • MBI-3006 Biotechnology - 10 ECTS
  • STA-3300 Applied Statistics 2 - 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3805/3810/3815/3820 Individual Special Curriculum (autumn/spring) - 5/10/15/20 ECTS


  • BIO-3504 Production and Growth in Polar Areas - 10 ECTS
  • MBI-3002 Pharmacology - 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3805/3810/3815/3820 Individual Special Curriculum (autumn/spring) - 5/10/15/20 ECTS

In addition, some courses at Bachelor`s level (e.g., the course BIO-2310 or other relevant courses) may be included in the Master' s discipline, if such courses were not taken during the Bachelor`s studies.

Students are encouraged to discuss with supervisors what will be the optimal set of courses.

Term 10 ects 10 ects 10 ects
First semester (autumn)

Elective course
Second semester (spring)
Elective course (10 ECTS)
Compulsory for students who have not taken this course during bachelor
Compulsory for students with Master`s topic on fish (5 ECTS)
Compulsory for students with Master`s topic on birds/mammals (6 ECTS)
Elective course (5 ECTS)
Compulsory for all Master`s students in biology
Third semester (autumn)
Fourth semester (spring)

After graduation, it is expected that candidates will have achieved the following learning outcomes:

General skills:

  • Display good capability of critical analysis of scientific literature and research
  • Display good communication skills, oral and written, in the presentation of scientific work
  • Have a solid and broad knowledge of living organisms


  • Have a solid knowledge of biological processes from the molecular level to the ecological level
  • Have an advanced level of knowledge in one of the disciplines offered


  • Be able to plan, carry out and report on a specific research project
  • Be able to work independently in the field and/or in the laboratory
  • Be able to analyze and evaluate scientific data and literature
  • Be able to work independently with problem solving

Admission to the Master`s programme in Biology requires a Bachelor`s degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification, with a major in biology of minimum 80 ECTS.An average grade of equivalent to C or better in the Norwegian grading system is required.

More information on admission requirements:

General admission requirements- Master

Applicants from Norway or Nordic countries:

  • Application deadline: April 15th for admission to the autumn semester and November 1st for admission to the spring semester.
  • Online application is via Søknadsweb, study code 6001.

International appplicants/Applicants from outside the Nordic countries:

  • Application deadline: December 1st for admission to the autumn semester. 
  • Online application, study code 2004.

Are you an international applicant?
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Several teaching and assessment methods are employed, including lectures, seminars, laboratory work, computer lab and field courses. These will vary from course to course.

Course examinations may be oral or written examinations, assessments of project work/ lab reports/field reports, often in combination.

Supervision of the project work that leads to the writing of the Master`s thesis will be given by faculty staff, sometimes in co-operation with an external supervisor.

The language of instruction and all syllabus material is English.

A Master`s of Science degree in Biology will prepare students for a wide range of jobs, in both public and private sectors, including; research, administration, consulting and the teaching profession.

Many Master`s students in Biology are connected to common projects involving Department of Arctic and Marine Biology (AMB) and other institutes in Tromsø that carry out biological research and consultation work, e.g. Norwegian Polar Institute, Institute of Marine Research, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Bioforsk, Akvaplan-niva and Nofima.
On successful completion of the degree programme, students may be qualified for admission to to a PhD-programme in Biology at the University of Tromsø or elsewhere.

Students can apply for exchange studies or field work abroad according to the available cooperation agreements within scholarship programmes such as Erasmus, Nordplus, Barentsplus or North2North. Please consult the programme study adviser for more information. Students can also undertake periods of studying at The University Centre at Svalbard, UNIS

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Available master projects

Available master projects 

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