Arctic marine ecology

Tilhører studiet:
Biology - master
Foto: Camilla Svendsen
Foto: Camilla Svendsen

Arctic marine ecology

Tilhører studiet:
Biology - master
Application deadline

Nordic applicants: 15 April

EU/EEA + Swiss applicants: 1 March

Non-EU/EEA applicants: 15 November

How to apply?

The northern seas harbor a wide range of habitats and a multitude of fascinating organisms, some of ecological and some of economic importance. Knowledge about these is important to understand the impacts of a warming climate and enhanced utilization of marine resources. Advanced technology, new sensors, models, and experimental approaches now allow us to investigate the complexity of the marine ecosystem on spatial and temporal scales beyond ship-based expeditions, in fjords and the open ocean as well as in remote Arctic regions. If you are excited about such questions and opportunities, pursue a Master’s in Biology and specialize in Arctic Marine Ecology.

This study programme requires compulsory attendance to the introductory meeting. See this web page for more information.
Spørsmål om studiet

Saga Svavarsdottir


  • Telefon: +4777660525
  • Campus: Tromsø

This discipline concerns the ecology of high-latitude coastal and oceanic systems. You will learn about polar marine ecosystems, what makes them special and how they function. You will discover how food webs in different Arctic marine habitats are structured, what it takes to use them sustainably, and how the physical environment influences species and their ecology.

Through a master in Arctic Marine Ecology, you will be introduced to a large variety of organisms, ranging from bacteria and plankton to benthos and top predators, such as fish and marine mammals. You can compare Arctic marine food webs across the entire Arctic, and you can study how organisms and ecosystems respond to climate change and environmental variation.

In this discipline, you will gain hands-on experience through sampling and data collection during research expeditions, as well as laboratory experiments and analyses. You will learn to use a suite of methods, which may include numerical modeling, novel observation and sampling technology or biochemical and molecular methods. You may design experiments to study behavior or physiology in the field or in temperature-controlled laboratories.

We collaborate extensively with UNIS and with other research institutions in Tromsø, such as the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Institute of Marine Research and Akvaplan-niva. You may carry out parts of your thesis at these institutions.

For more information about the research of Arctic Marine System Ecology (AMSE) group see: AMSE research group

Recommended elective courses in autumn

  • BIO-3505 Ecological Interactions - 10 ECTS (Marine ecological interactions)
  • BIO-3516 Food-webs and Fisheries – 10 ECTS (Marine ecological interactions)
  • BIO-3810 Individual Special Curriculum – 10 ECTS with a focus on sea ice habitats and biogeochemistry (Sea ice habitats & biogeochemistry)
  • BIO-3009 Arctic Marine Pollution – 10 ECTS (Ecosystem disturbances)
  • BIO-3020 Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology – 10 ECTS (Ecosystem disturbances)

Other relevant elective courses in the autumn:

  • FSK-3012 Geographical Information Systems for Coastal and Marine Resource Management – 10 ECTS

Recommended elective courses in the spring:

  • BIO-3029 Sea Ice Habitats and Biology – 5 ECTS (Sea ice habitats & biogeochemistry)
  • BIO-3506 Top predators in polar marine ecosystems:Biology, role and management implications– 10 ECTS (every other year, Higher trophic levels)
  • BIO-3518 Northern inland waters and global change – 10 ECTS

Other relevant elective courses in the spring:

  • BIO-3512 Early life history of marine fishes (spring) – 10 ECTS
  • BIO-3805/3810 Individual Special Curriculum - 5/10ECTS

Relevant courses offered at UNIS

  • AB-320 Arctic Marine Zooplankton (every other year) – 10 ECTS (Marine ecological interactions)
  • AB-321 Ecology of Arctic Marine Benthos (every other year) – 10 ECTS (Marine ecological interactions)
  • AB-323 Light Climate and Primary Productivity in the Arctic (every other year – 10 ECTS)
  • AB-332 Arctic Marine Molecular Ecology – 10 ECTS

Candidates that have completed a master’s degree in biology in the discipline Arctic Marine Ecology will have advanced knowledge within a range of topics in Arctic marine system ecology (e.g. polar night ecology, biophysical interactions, sea ice ecology and biogeochemistry, coastal ecology). This entails a thorough understanding of how organisms respond to various biotic and abiotic factors, about primary and secondary production in marine, high-latitude ecosystems, how trophic interactions regulate the community and determine the functioning of marine food webs, or how biogeochemical cycles such as the carbon cycle, is closely interlinked with the ecosystem.

In addition to the overall skills acquired as Master of Science in biology and depending on the master’s degree project, the candidate may have the possibility to design scientific experiments, prepare and conduct ship-based expeditions and work with marine ecosystem models, critically reflecting on their benefits and limitations.

Students will also be able to critically evaluate information from a variety of sources and to transpose acquired knowledge and competency to issues relevant for society e.g., management of marine resources and pollution in marine systems.

The Master’s degree in Biology will allow you to qualify for different career paths and prepare you to step into a professional role or to apply for a PhD.

A Master of Science degree in Biology will prepare you for a wide range of jobs, in both public and private sectors, including research, resource and nature management, administration, consulting and the teaching profession.

The master thesis can play an important role to establish your domain of expertise and to showcase acquired technical and soft skills. Also, it can be very important in building scientific and professional network, that will be a support in your future job search.

Term 10 ects 10 ects 10 ects
Compulsory safety courses at semester start (no ECTS)
First semester (autumn)
Elective course (up to 10 ECTS)
Elective course (10 ECTS)
Second semester (spring)***
Animal exp. (5/6 ECTS)**
Elective course (up to 10 ECTS)
Elective course (10 ECTS)
Third semester (autumn)****
Fourth semester (spring)
* BIO-3529 is 5 ECTS spread over the two first semesters and conducted partly digitally to accommodate students going to UNIS.
** BIO-3503 Aquatic Animal Welfare (only for projects that require use of live aquatic organisms) or HEL-6320 Animal Experimentation for Researchers (only for projects that require use of live birds or mammals). Please note that there is an own application deadline for HEL-6320.
*** Possibilities to take single (intensive) courses at UNIS from mid-March.
**** Possibilities to take single (intensive) courses at UNIS.

See the study plan below for more info about the program structure.

Admission to the master’s program in Biology requires a bachelor’s degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification, including a specialization in biological topics [i.e., biodiversity (zoology/botany), ecology, cell- and molecular biology, microbiology, physiology (animal/plant), biochemistry and bioinformatics] corresponding to a minimum of 80 ECTS.

Applicants must have a minimum grade average comparable to a Norwegian C (3,0) in the ECTS scale. The average grade is calcualted from the entire bachelore´s degree.

Applicants with education from non-Nordic countries must document English language proficiency. You will find more information of English language requirements here:

Applicants with a degree in Agricultural, Fisheries and Aquaculture studies, Biomedical laboratory sciences ("Bioingeniør"), or Bachelor of Pharmacy, Medicine or Dentistry do not fulfil the admission requirements.

More information on admission requirements:

General admission requirements-Master

Nordic applicants:

Online application is via Søknadsweb, application code 6022

EU/EEA + Swiss applicants:

Online application, application code: 7112

Non-EU/EEA applicants:

Online application, application code: 2078

How to apply for admission to UiT? Read more here

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.

On successful completion of the degree programme, students may be qualified for admission to a PhD-programme in Biology at the UiT or elsewhere.

Students can undertake periods of studying at The University Centre at Svalbard (UNIS). Each discipline highlights relevant courses at UNIS under program description.

International exchange during an entire semester is not possible in the first year of studies due to obligatory courses in all discipline.

Stays abroad can take place as part of a master project in the third and fourth semester. Please consult the program study advisor for more information.

Pedersen, Torstein
Professor. Fiskerbiologi og -økologi
Reigstad, Marit
Bilde av Nahrgang, Jasmine
Nahrgang, Jasmine
Svensen, Camilla
Bluhm, Bodil
Bilde av Campbell, Karley
Campbell, Karley
Sophie Bourgeon.jpg
Bourgeon, Sophie
Associate professor - Arctic marine ecotoxicology
Bilde av Norrbin, Fredrika
Norrbin, Fredrika
Førsteamanuensis. Planktonøkologi
Bilde av Molis, Markus
Molis, Markus
Professor for arktisk kysten økologi