Nordic Seas


Benefits of a joint programme

What you will learn


One degree -
four universities

and admission

Being a student

Research networks




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Programme description


The programme is a two-year, full-time study of 120 ECTS, divided into a course part (60 ECTS) and a master's thesis part (60 ECTS). It involves stays at all of the partner universities as described below. As a requirement of the programme, at least 30 ECTS (20 ECTS in exceptional cases where strong academic reasons apply) must be accomplished at one of the partner universities.

Nordic students can apply for grants covering the travel expenses and other extra costs (monthly grants) through the Nordplus system. Students from the EU can apply for Erasmus mobility support. More information on funding opportunities will be published here.

A pdf with the course descriptions for the joint courses and a list of available optional courses is available here


The first semester:

The first semester takes place in Bergen. The semester starts out with an introduction week (usually week 33), with an introduction to the scientific topics to be covered, practical information about the studies and a social programme. A mentor system is applied for the programme, and all the mentors will be present during this first week so that the students can discuss their individual choices of courses, topics for their master's thesis and other academic issues. During the first semester, you also start considering what research topic you want for you master's thesis.

The courses you will follow during the first semester are:

  • Marine Ecosystems and Climate (NMP-I, 10 ECTS), an introduction to how the ocean physics and chemistry influence marine ecosystems from phytoplankton to fish and the flow of energy through the food web.

  • Depending on your background:

    - If you are a biology student: Physical oceanography (GEOF130, 10 ECTS), an introductory course where you will learn the basics of geophysical fluid dynamics and most important processes in the ocean, such as currents, thermodynamics, circulation and wave phenomena.
    - If you are a physical oceanography student: Dynamical oceanography (GEOF330, 15 ECTS), an advanced class in dynamical oceanography.

  • An optional course of 5/10 ECTS, which may be in either a biological or in a physical topic.

The second semester:

You spend either the whole second semester or a longer part of it at any one of the partner institutions, e.g. in Aarhus, depending on what optional courses you have selected. You also start working on your thesis. During this semester the class is spread out on the partner universities, but all meet up for the following two compulsory courses:

  • Field course in Biological and Physical Oceanography (NMP-II, 5 ECTS) a one-week field course given in April in Aarhus, where you will get hands-on experience with the most common instruments and methods in oceanography, and
  • Fisheries Ecology: Management and conservation of marine resources in a changing ocean (NMP-III, 5 ECTS) at the University of Iceland, during which you will get a deeper understanding of the interactions between marine ecosystems and climate changes in the ocean. This course is given as a two-week summer course in June (time may vary from year to year), and for interested biology students it will be possible to combine this course with a relevant extension (see Course list).

The third and fourth semester:

During the third and fourth semester you will carry out your research project and write your thesis. The master's thesis is an independent research project, carried out from either a biological or from a physical point of view depending on your background. You will have (at least) two supervisors, one from each discipline to ensure the disciplinary and interdisciplinary support and follow-up to the project. You will be sitting at the institution of your main supervisor.
The exchange programme POME (Prediction and Observation of the Marine Environment) offers possibilities of a jointly supervised thesis between the UiB and Dalhousie University, Canada. See Research networks for further details.

The students are spread out during the third and fourth semester, but meet up for the following compulsory course:

  • Ecology of the Northeast Atlantic and Northwest European Seas with an emphasis on potential impacts of Climate Change (NMP-IV, 5 ECTS), given at the Faroe Islands early in the autumn semester (usually August or September). The course has the form of a seminar, with lectures based on papers relevant to the student's thesis topics.

The Degree:

After having successfully completed all the components of the programme, you will be awarded the degree of 'Master of Science in Marine Ecosystem and Climate' with a specialization in biological or physical oceanography. The certificate is a joint diploma carrying the stamps and signatures from all of the partner universities.

Important information regarding visa (most applicable for non-EEA-citizens):

If you plan to stay at one of the partner universities for longer than just for the duration of the compulsory course, make sure to check in time if you need a visa or not.
For example, non-EEA-citizens need a visa to stay in Iceland for one semester and are required to be a full-time student (30 ECTS!).
By experience, the student should ask very early for the background check from all countries he/she has been resident in in the last five years to meet the deadline set for handing in the required documents (1 November for spring semester). See Iceland: Information for non-EEA-citizens for further details.

Last updated: November 2012
Webmaster: Cara Nissen
Copyright © 2012 MARECLIM programme