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Forest Ecology, 15 Credits

Swedish name: Skogsekologi

This syllabus is valid: 2018-08-27 and until further notice

Course code: 5BI232

Credit points: 15

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Biology: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

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

Established by: Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 2018-06-18


The course addresses the impact of abiotic and biotic factors for forest structure, growth and dynamics, focusing on boreal forests in Scandinavia, but temperate and tropical forest ecosystems are also addressed. The course contains three parts:

Part 1: Theory 8 credits: An in-depth theory block focusing on the functional relationships between forest ecosystems and bio-geochemical processes, divided into three sections. 1. Regulatory and limiting factors for forest production. 2. Access to, flow and accumulation of energy and nutrients. 3. The importance of different organism groups for forest ecology and dynamics.

Part 2: Excursions 2.5 credits: Excursions to field experiments, natural and managed forests. Examples of the impact of forestry on biodiversity are demonstrated, as well as training in forest inventory techniques and species determination.

Part 3: Project work 4.5 credits: A project work where students plan and perform a scientific study to test ecological hypoteses.

Expected learning outcomes

After completing the course, for the grade of Pass the student  shall be able to:

Part 1, theory
1. Explain and quantitatively analyze the factors and bio-geochemical processes that regulate the structure, functioning, production and dynamics of forest vegetation.
2. Explain the interaction mechanisms between biotic factors and the structure and function of the forest, as well as effects of abiotic and biotic disturbances.
3. Actively contribute with relevant viewpoints at scientificdiscussions
4. With a high degree of independence compile, analyze, orally and in writing present scientific literature within the main field of the course.

Part 2, excursion
5. Apply different forest and vegetation inventory methods and describe methods in forest ecology research.

Part 3, project
6. Plan and carry out a scientific project and report the project both orally and in writing.

After completing the course, for the grade of Pass with distinction, the student  shall be able to:
1. Demonstrate an analytical ability in solving forest ecology questions and predict effects of various types of disturbances.

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).

Form of instruction

The teaching is conducted in the form of lectures, seminars, field and theory projects, and excursions. Seminars, project work and excursions are mandatory. Instruction is in English.

Examination modes

Examination takes place through oral and written presentations of seminar assignments, project work and excursions, and through a written examination of the teorethical part. For part 1, as well as for the entire course, the grades Fail (U), Pass (G) or Pass with distinction (VG) are given. Parts 2 and 3 are awarded with U or G. For the grade Passed on the whole course, all learning outcomes (FSRs) for level G are required. For the grade Pass with distinction on the whole course, the student must also pass VG on the theory exams on the 1st part of the course. If passed, the exam cannot be re-examined for the higher grade. In order to pass the entire course, all exams and compulsory elements are required. The grade (G or VG) on the course is a weighting of the results from the different parts and examinations and is only given when all required elements are approved. A student who has passed two examinations for a course or part of a course without the approved result is entitled to have another examiner appointed, unless special reasons speak against it (HF 6 chapter 22§). The request for a new examiner is made to the Head of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science.

Students have the right to have their previous education or equivalent knowledge and skills acquired in the profession tested whether it can be credited for the corresponding course at Umeå University. Application for credit is submitted to the Student Centre / Examinations. For more information on credit transfer available on Umeå University's student web,, and the Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6). A refusal of accreditation may be appealed against (Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 12) to the University Appeals Board. This applies to the whole as well as part of the application if accreditation is refused.

Other regulations

In the event that the course plan ceases to apply or undergoes major changes, students are guaranteed at least three exam opportunities (including regular examinations) according to the rules in the syllabus that the student was originally registered for, for a maximum of two years from the date of expiry of the previous course plan or the course ended up being offered.