Ocean Science

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

This is a broad course in modern marine research, with emphasis on fisheries and marine biological methods. The course is comprised of theoretical and practical modules covering biological oceanography, research vessel experience, field observations methods, and interpretation of models and analysis of field data.

The course consists of three modules:

  • Module 1 - Biological Oceanography (theoretical, 5 ECTS)
  • Module 2 - Marine Ecological Field Methods (practical, 10 ECTS)
  • Module 3 - Fisheries Ecology (theoretical, 5 ECTS)

The modules can be taken separately, but all modules are compulsory for master students in marine biology, fisheries biology and management, and those students will be given priority.

The theoretical course components (Modules 1 and 3) offer an introduction to biological oceanography, the basis for marine productivity, and presentation of selected marine ecosystems and models.

The practical course component (Module 2), consisting of a research vessel cruise in the North Sea and/or the west coast fjords, will give an introduction to planning and design of research projects, and offer insight into life history and ecology of the most important species in these habitats. Sampling, recording and handling marine field data, as well as data analysis and modelling, will give training in the central research methods for observation and assessing abundance of marine species.

Field work/experiments will cover various techniques, using practical examples to evaluate the purpose, strengths and weaknesses of each approach. This will include common approaches for collecting data for marine research, such as surveys, acoustics, times series, ROVs, and their applications in process studies and resource mapping.

Learning Outcomes

On completion students shall have achieved the following learning outcomes:
  • Understand modelling tools to study the driving forces of marine productivity
  • Understand how physical and chemical processes, as well as structure, influence biological interactions and distribution of marine organisms
  • Be able to plan and execute field work to answer research questions
  • Have basic knowledge of the most common methods for collection of field data for modern marine research
  • Be able to explain and evaluate the principles of different sampling approaches, and their strengths and weaknesses
  • Be able to process, catalogue, illustrate graphically, and analyse statistically collected field samples and interpret results
  • Be able to communicate scientific results from field studies by presenting orally and by writing a scientific report
  • Have knowledge of the basic effects of fisheries and harvesting/exploitation of marine biological resources
  • Understand and consider the uncertainties in marine data collection and modelling, and what that means for management advice
  • Have learned to work as part of a team onboard a research ship, following safe practices in field work

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


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 in week 34.

Please note that you need to have with you a valid passport in order to get on board the research vessel for the teaching cruise  in September (Module 2).

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 (studie.bio@uib.no). The time of the first lecture/orientation meeting can be found in the schedule in "Resources" or on Mitt UiB.

Place of Instruction

Bergen and a research cruise to the surrounding west coast fjords and the North Sea.
Required Previous Knowledge
Bachelor's degree in Biology, or similar study programme.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Bachelor's in Biology with basic courses in mathematics and statistics and use of spreadsheets (e.g. Excel) and statistics programs (e.g. R). The obligatory courses BIO300A Academic Writing (5 ECTS) and BIO300B Biostatistics (5 ECTS) are taught in parallel with BIO325 Ocean Science. Knowledge in oceanography, marine community ecology (e.g. BIO212) and/or marine benthic fauna (e.g. BIO225) is an advantage.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
The course is mainly open to students on the master's programme in biology, specialization Marine Biology,Fisheries Biology and Management. However, each individual module may be taken as a special topic course by master students in other programmes/specializations as long as they fulfill the prerequisites for the course. Please note that Module 2 - Marine Ecological Field Methods has a limited capacity.
Teaching and learning methods

The course consists of four modules:

  • Module 1 - Biological Oceanography (theoretical)
  • Module 2 - Marine Ecological Field Methods (practical)
  • Module 3 - Fisheries Ecology (theoretical)

Theoretical modules (Module 1 and 3): lectures and group activities occur from week 34 through week 47.

Practical module (Module 2): field course on a research vessel in September/October - one week on process studies in fjords on the west coast and/or one week on a research survey in the North Sea. Teaching onboard the research vessel and assigned coursework before and after.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
  • Submission of coursework assignments.
  • Participation on research cruises and field work.
  • Participation in lectures, lab courses.
  • Student deductible for participation in field and research cruise activities:

    Students enrolled in courses that include field and cruise activities necessitating overnight accommodation, are required to cover their own expenses for food and drinks during the stay. Due to rules and requirements related to food handling and hygiene, the University of Bergen is required to purchase food from/at the various accommodation locations, and we can therefore not allow students to bring their own food. The Department of Biological Sciences is therefore responsible for ordering food for all students. Students are required to pay a deductible of NOK 100,-/day for these food expenses. Total student deductible will be max NOK 1 500.

    The Department of Biological Sciences covers expenses related to transportation and accommodation, and any food expenses surpassing the student deductible of NOK 100,-/day. Students using their own car must provide information to the Department of Biological Sciences at studie.bio@uib.no no later than 10 days before departure about the driver and the name of any possible passangers. The Department does not cover expenses related to private transport.

    Forms of Assessment

    Portfolio assessment, covering three modules (max. achievable points: 300):

    • Module 1 - Biological Oceanography (theoretical): multiple choice test (max. 100 points)
    • Module 2 - Marine Ecological Field Methods (practical): term paper/field report, participation in research cruise, data labs (max. 200 points)
    • Module 3 - Fisheries Ecology (theoretical): oral exam (max. 100 points)

    When all modules are completed, the overall grade for the course will be set based on the percentage of 300 points the student has earned. 

    Grading Scale
    Grading scale A-F, where grade A is the highest passing grade, and grade F is a fail.
    Assessment Semester
    The portfolio assessment is only carried out in semesters with teaching; the autumn semester.
    Reading List
    The literature list will be available by July 1st for the autumn semester and December 1st for the spring semester.
    Course Evaluation
    Students will evaluate the course in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the Department. You can find course evaluations in the Quality Assurance Reports.
    Examination Support Material
    Programme Committee
    The Programme Board is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the course.
    Course Coordinator
    Professor Katja Enberg
    Course Administrator
    The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences by the Department of Biological Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course.