Course code MINA300

MINA300 Global Change of the Earth System

Norsk emneinformasjon

Search for other courses here

Showing course contents for the educational year 2021 - 2022 .

Course responsible: Jan Mulder
ECTS credits: 10
Faculty: Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management
Teaching language: EN, NO
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
Spring term
Course frequency: Annually. The course is in the Spring term 
First time: Study year 2005-2006
Last time: 2022V
Preferential right:
Course contents:
MINA300 is an advanced course for the masterprogram "Environment and Natural resources", which builds on MINA100 and MINA200. MINA300 focuses on global environmental changes and effects on live from "the big-bang" to the present and into the future, accounting for natural processes (volcanism, tectonics) and human intervention (use of fossil fuels and fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus), erosion). The first part of the course deals with "the big bang", creation of stars, light elements, planets, the atmosphere, development of life and photosynthesis and ultimately life’s biogeochemical signatures on our planet (viz. oxygen and organic matter). The dominant processes in the earth’s sub-systems (atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems, freshwater, wetlands and oceans) will be discussed first. Synthesis will be done in the following parts where we treat the climate system, the main biogeochemical element cycles, and methods in biogeochemistry, including isotope signatures. Important leitmotifs for the course are "the biosphere as a reactor in the climate system" and the anthropogenic factor, now and in the future. A part of the course is dedicated to a presentation and discussion of ongoing climate research at MINA: - Fluxes of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O) between soil and atmosphere. - Turnover and losses of C, N and P from terrestrial ecosystems.
Learning outcome:

Having passed the course, the students will have obtained the following knowledge and skills:


The students will be able to reproduce, explain, use, analyze and synthesize knowledge of processes and organisms which dominate and regulate the biogeochemical system on earth with a particular focus on human-induced effects on carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, water and climate. The students will be able to analyze how and why the system is changing and the uncertainties involved.


The students have acquainted themselves with scientific discussions of biogeochemistry and global change. The students have learned to be active in such debates by reading and using primary scientific literature and by making oral presentations.

Learning activities:
Core knowledge of facts, methods and concepts regarding biogeochemistry and analyses of global change is presented and discussed by the students, after this is prepared in smaller groups, based on the textbook in biogeochemistry, in addition to selected recent scientific publications.
Teaching support:
Continuous individual supervision is available on request of the students, either in class, during office hours or online. Weekly classes (plenary) with presentations and discussions.
W. H. Schlesinger: and E.S. Bernhardt 2020: Biogeochemistry-, An analysis of global change 4th edition Academic Press. Selected, recent publications will be made available on Canvas.
Recommended prerequisites:
KJM120, KJB200, BIO234, GEO100, JORD101, JORD200, VANN210. A reading list for the early part of the course will be recommended to students lacking the recommended prerequisites.
Mandatory activity:
Presentation of parts of the course material. A minimum attendance of 80% of the classes.

Total assessment:

  • Final oral examination: 60%.
  • Portfolio assessment: Presentations and active participation in class 40%.

All parts must be pass.

Grading system: A-E/Not passed

Nominal workload:
Structured work and lectures: 30 hours. Preparation for literature seminars: 130 hours. Individual study: 90 hours.
Entrance requirements:
Special requirements in Science
Reduction of credits:
Type of course:
Presentation and discussions 30 hours
Biogeochemistry is an interdisciplinary subject, and this has implications for the teaching and learning. Our experience is that students with good knowledge and skills in one or two of the relevant subjects (soil science, limnology, microbiology, biochemistry, physiology, chemistry, geology etc) will appreciate a course in biogeochemistry as a great enlightenment and find inspiration to do the necessary supplementary reading.
External examiner approves the course and participates in the oral exam.
Examination details: Combined assessment: Letter grades