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Arctic Ecosystems, 15 Credits

Swedish name: Arktiska Ekosystem

This syllabus is valid: 2017-08-21 and until further notice

Course code: 5BI225

Credit points: 15

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Biology: Second cycle, in-depth level of the course cannot be classified

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Established by: Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 2017-06-27


The course provides extended knowledge of processes across Arctic and Subarctic terrestrial ecosystems. It provides understanding of how ecosystem processes are regulated by abiotic and biotic factors, such as nutrient availability, the Arctic climate and plant-soil-organism interactions and its relationship to the ecosystem function. Particular focus will be on potential impacts of changes in climate on ecosystem processes and on feedback mechanisms from arctic ecosystems to the climate system. The course provides an overview of how controls and impacts on ecosystem processes depend on temporal and spatial scales. Excursions to various ecosystems are included. The course is given by researchers at the Climate Impacts Research Centre and has a strong connection to on-going research.

Part 1. Theoretical part, 7.5 ECTS credits. This part consists of lectures, seminars and excursions to provide in-depth knowledge about ecological processes in Arctic and Subarctic terrestrial environments. Ecological questions are approached from the process through the landscape level. The impacts of climate change on Arctic and Subarctic ecosystems and their potential feedbacks are discussed. We will also discuss how temporal variations affect these processes.

Part 2. Project work, 7.5 ECTS credits. This part consists of an extended experimental study of abiotic and biotic processes in an arctic-subarctic terrestrial ecosystem to provide hands-on experience in Arctic ecological research. The study will be conducted in small groups and consist of a full scientific research cycle, including hypotheses testing based on published literature, planning, field work,analysis of data, and report writing. The hypotheses will be tested and the results will be presented as a written scientific report and at a seminar.

Expected learning outcomes

On completion of the course, for the grade Pass, the student should be able to:

Part 1
- Apply an analytical approach to the ecology in the Arctic and Subarctic environment from a process to a landscape perspective.
- Apply an analytical approach to the ongoing and potential future impacts of climate change on Arctic and Subarctic ecosystems including the terrestrial feedbacks to climate change.

Part 2
- Apply a scientific approach to plan and conduct a scientific research project within arctic terrestrial ecology
- Acquire, process, analyse and interpret information on ecological processes.
- Analyse results in relation to published results within the research area
- Present the results as an individually written project report and orally as a seminar

On completion of the course, for the grade Pass with Distinction, the student should be able to:

- Construct own scientific arguments from critically assessing the scientific literature used on the course.
- Apply the content of the course to formulate new questions.

Required Knowledge

120 ECTS credits including 60 ECTS in Biology of which 15 ECTS in Ecology or 60 ECTS earth science/physical geography and 15 ECTS in ecology, or equivalent knowledge.

Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English A (IELTS (Academic) with a minimum overall score of 5.5 and no individual score below 5.0. TOEFL PBT
(Paper-based Test) with a minimum total score of 530 and a minimum TWE score of 4. TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test) with a minimum total score of 72 and a minimum score of 17 on the Writing Section).
Where the language of instruction is Swedish, applicants must prove proficiency in Swedish to the level required for basic eligibility for higher studies.

Form of instruction

The teaching includes lectures, excursions (including safety instruction), terrestrial ecological field and laboratory techniques. Seminars, excursions and laboratory work are mandatory. An extended project work is obligatory, which will be presented in a written report and at a seminar.

Examination modes

Examination of the course is both in the form of written exam (part 1), an oral exam in the form of a seminar (part 1) and an oral and written presentation of a project (part 2). The project should analyse processes relevant for the Subarctic-Alpine communities. The grades of the written exam, the project and the course as a whole are Failed, Passed and Passed with distinction. The grades of the oral exam (part 1) and oral presentation of a project (part 2) are Failed and Passed. A student that has performed two tests for a course or part of a course without getting the grade passed, has the right to get a new examiner appointed, if there are no particular reasons against it (HF 6 chapter 22§). The request for a new examiner is sent to the prefect for the department of ecology and environmental science. A student who has achieved a passed grade on an examination can’t retake this examination in order to attempt to achieve a higher grade. To pass the whole course, all tests must be passed and compulsory parts performed. The grade on the course is a combined assessment of all the different parts of the examinations and is awarded when all compulsory parts are performed. To receive the grade Passed on the whole course, all graded parts of the course must have the grade Passed.  To receive the grade Passed with distinction on the whole course, the grade Passed with distinction must have been received on all parts of the course where Passed with distinction can be met.

CREDIT TRANSFER Credit transfers are always tried individually. (See the university’s guidelines and credit-of-transfer-ordinance.)


Valid from: 2017 week 35

The course literature consist of articles and will be provided by the department