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Study plan - From Mountain to Fjord - Geology and Ecology of Western Norway

Autumn 2021


From Mountain to Fjord is an environmental programme focusing on interdisciplinary natural science with a main emphasis on the geology, glacial geo-ecology, and aquatic ecology and hydrography (marine fjord and freshwater) of Western Norway. The Faculty is located at the shores of the Sogndalsfjord, a northwest tending tributary of the Sognefjord in Western Norway. The area spans across a variety of ecosystems over very short distances ranging from alpine, through lowland, into the marine fjord environment. This landscape offers a unique natural laboratory for fieldwork and research.

According to university (HVL) rules and regulations, the HVL covers expenses for travel and accommodation during fieldwork and excursions; students have to pay for their own food, though. The programme does not require tuition fees.

Learning outcomes


The students gain an understanding of the significance of a geological long-term perspective on the short term interpretation of environmental and climate change across gradients from mountain to fjord, and their natural and human induced sources.


The students are able to use lake and fjord deposits as a valuable geological tool for interpreting a variety of environmental and climate change settings in space and time. The students know how to add a continuous historical long-term (decades to centuries) dimension to the common approach of ecological short-term (months to years) interpretation of environmental and climate change.

General competence

The programme provides the students with the competence to critically instruct decision makers on how to improve the reliability of an ecologically based interpretation of environmental and climate change by adding geological long-term information in a holistic approach.


The course is interdisciplinary and focuses on the interaction of ecological documentation and geological source interpretation within a changing environment. The main concept is (a) to understand the formation of selected ecosystems based on bedrock geology, glacial geology and fjord hydrography; (b) to describe these selected ecosystems using glacial and marine ecology, fjord biology, hydrography and limnology; and (c) to conclude on the significance of fjord and freshwater sediments for the interpretation of environmental change along ecological gradients. The understanding of the total process provides an effective tool for the identification and timing of environmental and climate change.

The course consists of three modules (10 ECTS each), involving a total of 21 days of fieldwork on land and on fjords:

  • Module 1: GE476 Geological Aspects of Western Norway
  • Module 2: GE477 Glaciers and Ecology
  • Module 3: GE478 Fjord Processes


Teaching methods include lectures, exercises, fieldwork, and laboratory practice, including a continuous delivery of journals and presentations in seminars. In addition, the students will perform a science project throughout the entire semester. The students will present the results of this sciences project in a public seminar at the end of the programme. Most of the practical exercises and/or laboratory work are compulsory.


Work requirements

Approved presentations, and field and laboratory journals. Please refer to the single courses for the volume of these requirements.


Final assessment

  • Module 1: GE476 Geological Aspects of Western Norway: Written examination under supervision (Multiple choice test), 4 hours, 10 ECTS
  • Module 2: GE477 Glaciers and Ecology: Written examination under supervision, 4 hours, 10 ECTS
  • Module 3: GE478 Fjord Processes: Written examination under supervision (Multiple choice test), 2 hours (counting 40%), and oral examination in form of a presentation at a public seminar on the science project (counting 60%), 10 ECTS