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Fundamentals of Ecotoxicology



Course format On-site
Date 2020-08-17 - 2020-12-04
Entry level Bachelor

Course content

The course will cover general principles of ecotoxicology through lectures, seminars, and a practical component.

More specifically, the course will give an overview of environmental contaminants and their fate in the environment, including emissions and transport of contaminants and effects in biota from cellular to community/ecosystem levels. The course will also include principles and methodologies in toxicity testing and environmental risk assessment.

The practical component of the course will allow to acquire practical skills within the field of ecotoxicology and apply the theoretical knowledge by performing an ecotoxicological experiment, learning to analyse, discuss and present produced data.


Admission requires a Bachelor`s degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification, with a major in biology of minimum 80 ECTS.

Learning outcomes

Students who have completed the course shall:


  • Be able to define and discuss specific terms within the field such as toxicity, bioavailability, bioaccumulation, biomagnification, etc..
  • Have knowledge about all classes of contaminants (persistent organic pollutants, microplastics, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, etc.) including their sources, physico-chemical properties and particular effects on living organisms.
  • Have knowledge about the chemical processes affecting the fate of different classes of contaminants in the environment (e.g. transport, weathering) and the physical and biological factors affecting these.
  • Be able to explain how contaminants interact with organisms including trophic transfer processes
  • Have knowledge about the biological effects of contaminants from sub-individual (biomarkers) to populations and ecosystem levels.
  • Be familiar with a range of methods used in toxicity testing (e.g. LC50, in vitro, in vivo) and can discuss their relevance for specific questions.
  • Have knowledge about the current Norwegian and European regulations for environmental risk assessment, the methods employed, and the responsible authorities


  • Know standard practical procedures during experimentation, from biological sample collection to data analysis in the laboratory, understand their rationale and execute them to preserve sample integrity and quality.
  • Be able to read and critically execute laboratory protocols on sampling procedures and sample analysis, such as making solutions, dilutions, and determine the appropriate labware to use.
  • Understand and apply equations in data treatment to transform raw data into final results (e.g. enzyme activities).
  • Be able to perform basic data treatment using Excel to process raw data (e.g. calculation of enzyme activities)
  • Be able to write a simple laboratory report in a scientific concise style including choosing appropriate data representation, and interpretation.

General competence

  • Develop the ability to interpret ecotoxicology data (such as contaminant levels, biomarkers in biota) within a specific environmental context (monitoring, experiment etc. ) and problematic (baseline study, exposure experiment, etc.).
  • Develop teamwork skills in the field and laboratory situations.
  • Acquire confidence to work autonomously in the laboratory and take decisions based on few instructions.
  • Develop the ability to plan ahead in the context  of a long-term project with multiple steps (e.g. define objectives, choose design and methodology, collect, interpret and represent data).
  • Be able to search and use relevant literature
  • Scientific presentation (writing and oral)


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