Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Ecology is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans (the biosphere) and their physical environment. Ecology also helps us understand how we can use Earth¿s resources sustainably, as well the benefits that ecosystems can bring to society. The aim of this course is to provide an overview of a range of ecological concepts which influence ecological processes at a variety of scales. By the end of this course we aim that you will have a thorough understanding of the fundamental processes that influence organisms at different levels of organization (from individuals up to the whole biosphere). Note that the topics covered builds on information from foundation-level courses BIO100 and BIO102. The topics covered in this course should then provide the foundation for then applying this knowledge in other ecological contexts- from applied (e.g. in conservation management), to theoretical (e.g predicting the dynamics of fish populations), and for more advanced studies in more specialized courses (e.g. behavioural ecology, palaeoecology).

In addition to providing a grounding in ecological theory, there is an important focus on learning the key attributes and techniques that is required to be a professional ecologist. Thus we will aim to give you training in applying the ecological theory you have learned through the tools and techniques that ecologists use practically day-to-day. You will practice interpreting figures and tables from the primary literature, develop your own hypotheses and conduct experiments and analyses, create your own diagrams and tests using R. You will gain experience with engaging and thinking around the primary literature, placing new studies and ideas into context, and in developing skills in academic writing. Throughout the course we hope that you can apply your knowledge to consider the relevance of ecology in society.

The course takes a Team Based Learning format, and is structured into 5 main modules, each themed around understanding ecological processes at a given level of organization:

  • Module 1: Individuals, Adaptations and Life History Strategies
  • Module 2: Population Growth
  • Module 3: Species interactions
  • Module 4: Community Ecology
  • Module 5: Ecosystem Ecology

For each module there is a set list of reading and tasks to complete before the first part of the module. In the class time you will carry out a series of individual and team-based tasks that aim to deepen and broaden your understanding of the material you have read before the class. Each module has its own set of assessments that will contribute to your overall final grade.

Learning Outcomes


  • Describe and explain ecological theories and models at different levels of organisation (e.g. individuals, populations, communities, ecosystems).
  • Compare the advantages and disadvantages of different methods and experiments used by ecologists to study ecological patterns and processes.
  • Discuss relevant, contemporary and applied ecological issues in light of ecological theory.


  • Analyse and interpret results from a widely-used statistical and numerical methods  in the context of ecological theories covered in the course.
  • Construct precise illustrations and graphs of data, theories and simulations and draw conclusions from them.
  • Critically evaluate primary scientific literature and place new case studies and examples in the context of the ecological theories discussed in the course.
  • Describe and report scientific results, theories and arguments using academic forms of communication (e.g. literature reviews, academic texts, poster presentations).

General Competencies:

  • Be able to present, orally and in writing, research results put into context of existing knowledge, also to non-specialists.
  • Be able to analyze the biological scientific issues and participate in the discussion of approaches and ways of solving the issue.
  • Be able to work independently and as part of a team with comprehensive and demanding assignments, and to meet deadlines.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study

Bachelor (advanced) and master

Semester of Instruction


This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. The application deadline is Wednesday in week 33 for the autumn semester. Please see this page for more information. You will receive confirmation of whether you received a seat in Studentweb no later than Monday the week after the deadline.

It is compulsory to attend the first lecture/orientation meeting, or you risk losing your seat. If you are unable to attend the first lecture, you must contact the Study Section ( The time of the first lecture/orientation meeting can be found in the schedule on the course website or on Mitt UiB.

Required Previous Knowledge
BIO100 Introduction to Evolution and Ecology (10 ECTS), or equivalent course.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Courses equivalent to: 
  • BIO102 Organismal Biology 2 (10 ECTS)
  • MAT101 Elementary Calculus I (10 ECTS)
  • MAT102 Elementary Calculus II (10 ECTS)
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
In order to be admitted to the course, you must be admitted to a study programme at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and fulfill required previous knowledge.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Mandatory attendance at the first lecture and on at least 80% of the learning activities.
Forms of Assessment
Portfolio assessment, consisting of:
  • Oral exam, accounts for 60% of total grade. The oral exam must be passed in order to pass the course.
  • Written assignments (including multiple choice question sets, a term paper and presentations or posters based on group work) account for 40% of the total grade.
Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade, grade F is a fail.
Assessment Semester
Course Evaluation
Students will evaluate the course in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the Department.