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Arctic Science, 4.5 Credits

Swedish name: Arktisk vetenskap

This syllabus is valid: 2022-05-30 and until further notice

Course code: 5FY217

Credit points: 4.5

Education level: First cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Physics: First cycle, has only upper-secondary level entry requirements

Grading scale: TH teknisk betygsskala

Responsible department: Department of Physics

Established by: Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 2022-05-10


The course is given as a distance course with a meeting in Kiruna. The course begins with introductory lectures about the Arctic. After that the students work with tasks to prepare them for the course meeting. Research activities in the Kiruna area are introduced by  lectures and study visits in Kiruna. Topics covered include magnetospheric physics, auroral physics and observations, polar stratospheric clouds, optical phonomena in the polar regions, snow and ice-related phenomena including ice in the solar system, the impact of the climate on the Arctic environment and how the human body is affected by the cold.  During the meeting, the students carry out the laboratory part of the course. The laboratory part consists of a snow exercise and observations of the aurora. The project part, which is carried out remotely, consists of an assignment where students process data on the Arctic environment and write a synopis of a scientific publication related to the course content. The course comprises a theory module of 1.5 credits, a laboratory module of 1.5 credits and a project module of 1.5 credits.

Expected learning outcomes

To fulfil the goals of knowledge and understanding, after completion of the course the student should be able to:

  • explain in detail how the aurora borealis arises and what it looks like
  • describe how ice crystals form in the air
  • explain the circumstances under which avalanches occur
  • give examples of where ice can be found in other places in the solar system
  • describe optical phonomena that one can see in the Arctic and explain how they are created
  • systematically summarise reasons why one carries out research at northerly latitudes
  • demonstrate an understanding for how the human body is affected by low temperatures.

To fulfil the goals for skills and abilities, after completion of the course the student should be able to:

  • examine weather and space data to estimate the probability of auroral activity
  • investigate a snow pack to identify weak layers
  • critically analyse an article on Arctic science and summarize important results.

To fulfil the goals for judgement and approach, after completion of the course the student should be able to:

  • demonstrate awareness of how climate change affects the Arctic environment
  • demonstrate the ability to collaborate with other people, especially during practical tasks.

Required Knowledge

General entry requirements and Physics 2

Form of instruction

The teaching is conducted in the form of lectures, study visits and supervised practical work. Practical work and projects are compulsory components of the course. In addition to scheduled activities individual work with the course material is also required.

Examination modes

The examination of the theoretical module of the course takes place individually by assessment of 2 written assignments. The assignments test the student's ability to perform calculations and descriptions linked to the course content. The grading scale for the theory module is Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with Merit (4), Pass with Distinction (5). The examination of the course's laboratory module takes place in groups, with individual assessment, though written reports and oral presentations. The grading scale for the laboratory module is Fail (U) or Pass (G). The examination of the course's project module takes place individually by assessing the student's work with processing data on the Arctic environment and assessment of the student's synopis of a scientific publication related to the course content. The grading scale for the project module is Fail (U) or Pass (G).

The grading scale for the entire course is Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with Merit (4), or Pass with Distinction (5). To pass the entire course all modules must be approved.  Provided that all modules are approved, the grade for the entire course will be the same as the grade for the theory module.. A student who has passed an examination is not allowed to take another examination in order to get a higher grade.

Deviations from the examination form of this syllabus can be made for a student who has a decision on pedagogical support due to functional diversity. Individual adaptation of the examination form must be considered based on the student's needs. The examination form is adapted within the framework of the expected study results described in this syllabus. At the request of the student, the course teacher, in consultation with the examiner, shall promptly decide on an adapted form of examination. The decision must then be notified to the student.

A student who has undergone two exams for a course or part of a course without a passing grade, has the right to have another examiner appointed, unless there are special reasons to the contrary (The Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 6, Section 22). Requests for a new examiner are made to the Head of the Department of Physics. For more information, see Rules for grades and examination at first and second cycle studies, dnr: FS 1.1.2-553-14.

Transfer of credits
Students have the right to have previous education or equivalent knowledge, and skills acquired in professional activities assessed for the transfer of credits to corresponding education at Umeå University. The application for credit transfer is sent to the Student Services Office/Degree Evaluation Office. More information about credit transfer can be found on Umeå University's Student web, www.student.umu.se, and in the Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6). A rejection of an application for credit can be appealed (Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 12) to the Higher Education Appeals Board. This applies if the entire or parts of the application for a transfer of credits are rejected.

Other regulations

The course replaces the previous course Arctic Science A 4,5 credits (5FY105) and cannot be included in a degree together with that course. In the event that the course syllabus expires or undergoes major changes, students are guaranteed at least three examination opportunities (including the regular examination opportunity), according to the regulations in the syllabus on which the student was originally registered, for a maximum of two years from the previous syllabus expiring or since the course has been discontinued.