Course content

The course gives an introduction to the ecosystems of the free water masses and will cover topics ranging from the physicochemical environment to food webs, biological processes, and evolutionary adaptations of pelagic organisms, to how contemporary environmental challenges affect these systems. These topics will be explored in lectures, laboratory and computer exercises, and in the field. The fieldwork includes cruise(s) with the research vessel Trygve Braarud and a four-day field course in Drøbak.

Learning outcome

This course provides a basic understanding of small and large-scale processes that govern the structure and function of pelagic ecosystems. You will receive an introduction to:

  • The physicochemical environment, and its role for the vertical structure of the pelagic habitat.
  • Organisms, biological processes, evolutionary adaptations, and food webs.
  • The role of global change for the pelagic ecosystems
  • Pelagic sampling

Admission to the course

Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Formal prerequisite knowledge

HMS0503 - Laboratory Safety

HMS0504 - Field Safety

General ecology and biodiversity (for ex. BIOS1150 – Biodiversity/BIOS2220 – Aquatic Biodiversity), basic physics (for ex. FYS1001 – Introduction to Physics), and basic knowledge of R-programing (STK1000 – Introduction to Applied Statistics). 

Overlapping courses


The teaching consists of:

  • Lectures (The instructive lectures prior to activities in the course is mandatory) 
  • Laboratory exercises (Mandatory)
  • Computer exercises (Mandatory)
  • Colloquia 
  • Project work (Mandatory) 
  • Cruises with the research vessel Trygve Braarud in Inner Oslofjord, and a week long field course in Drøbak (Mandatory) 
  • Laboratory and computer exercises, cruises, fieldwork, and project work are mandatory, as are instructive lectures prior to these.

Mandatory course work must be approved before the student can attend the exam.

The first lecture is mandatory. If you can not attend the first lecture, please send a note to, before the first lecture.

As the teaching involves laboratory and/or fieldwork, you should consider taking out a separate travel and personal risk insurance. Read about your insurance cover as a student.

The course is only given if three or more students meet in the first lecture.

Approved mandatory course work is valid for 3 years.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.

Cost of taking the course

The excursion has a fee on 150 NOK per day.


Final written exam (3h) counts 100%.

To be able to take the final written exam, students need to receive a passing grade on reports from laboratory exercises, project and Field work. All mandatory teaching must be passed. 

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt. It will also be counted as one of the three attempts to sit the exam for this course, if you sit the exam for one of the following courses: BIO3400 – Aquatic Ecology (discontinued), BIOS4400 – Pelagic Ecology

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Resit an examination

This course offers both postponed and resit of examination. Read more:

Special examination arrangements, use of sources, explanations and appeals

See more about examinations at UiO

Last updated from FS (Common Student System) Dec. 1, 2022 1:18:43 AM

Facts about this course


The course is last held spring 2021


Examination is last held spring 2023

Teaching language
Norwegian (English on request)