Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Palaeoecology is the study of the ecology of the past. Different types of fossils are being used as proxies for past species compositions and distributions, species immigration and establishment after the ice age, and how climate, environment, and human activities has affected these. The course aims at disseminate an understanding general and more special events where palaeoecological methods can be applied to get knowledge on these. Time scales are reconstructed by using different dating methods. Topics can be related to any part of Earth's history, but most emphasis is put on development and change that has occurred in the present interglacial, the Holocene.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and genereal competence:


Knowledge The student

  • can define the most common expressions within palaeoecology and know the breadth and diversity of the subject
  • can plan and carry out a small palaeoecological study
  • know different methods and strategies for data collection
  • can use the relevant types of data for different palaeoecological studies
  • can use their knowledge to put together data and studies on difrerent time scales



The student

  • is able to formulate a research question and plan and conduct field work to answer this question
  • is able to collect material using a Russian sediment corer
  • is able to identify and describe different types of sediments anddifferent types of fossils (e.g. pollen and pland macrofossils) and know their relationship to the environment
  • is able to present own data in tables and figures, and interpret them om different time and spatioal scales
  • is able to search for relevant literature and present the main findings to the others at the course


Generel competence The student

  • can find relevant literature that highlights current research questions within palaeoecology
  • can discuss different studies and express their viewpoints in discussions
  • can demonstrate the ability to functon individually, in cooperation, and ethically with others
  • can present, discuss and critically evaluate primary literature

ECTS Credits


Level of Study

Master and bachelor (advanced)

Semester of Instruction

Autumn. The course will not run in the autumn semester 2024.

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 MittUiB.

Required Previous Knowledge
Basic courses in biology, with a focus on ecology and evolution.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
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.
Teaching and learning methods

Teaching is given as lectures, field course, lab work in groups, discussions and student presentations

Lecture/ 4 hours per weel over 14 weeks

Field course/ 3 daysLab work/ 6 hours in one week + up to 2 weeks in groups

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Research assignment (includes field course, lab work, and the presentation of the results in a poster), participation in discussions and practicals, and a take-home exam. Approved mandatory activities are vald for 6 semester.
Forms of Assessment
The forms of assessment are:
  • Research assignment and presentation constitute 25 % of total grade
  • Written digital take-home ecam constitute 74 % of total grade
Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
Assessment Semester
Examination is in the autumn semester.
Reading List
The reading list will be available within July 1st for the autumn semester.
Course Evaluation
Students will evaluate the course in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the Department. You can find courseevaluations in the Quality Assurance Reports.
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Course Coordinator
You will find course responsible at Mitt UiB, or contact study administration