The Biology of Fish

Course content

The course aims to provide the student with detailed knowledge of different aspects of fish physiology. The course will provide an understanding of the respiratory and circulatory system of these animals, as well as how oxygen is transported. In addition effect of - and physiological adaptation to - a variety of environmental factors, i.e. hypoxia, salinity, CO2, pH and temperature, will be described. The course will also provide understanding of the physiology affiliated with fish swimming as well as feeding and digestion.

The course consists of a mixture of traditional textbook lectures and examples describing the different environments, as well as case-studies.

Demonstrations will illustrate the anatomy of fish and different techniques. Experimental hands-on research projects, each with 2 – 3 students, will carry out independent studies of i.e. oxygen consumption and hearth rate in response to hypoxia, how does a fish swim and how much it cost and hearth physiology.

During the course articles are presented by the students and the teachers. In addition, the students functions as opponents to the presented articles.


MSc Programme in Biology

MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject

Learning outcome

A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:

  • Explain and describe the respiratory and circulatory systems, and oxygen transport in fish and how these transport oxygen.
  • Describe feeding and digestion.
  • Explain and describe the possible effects of hypoxia on metabolic rate.
  • Describe oxygen consumption of exercising fish.
  • Explain how fish osmoregulate.
  • Describe the differences between aquatic air and water breathers.
  • Describe and explain the effect of temperature on metabolism.
  • Describe the anatomy of fish.
  • Plan and carry out an experiment, analyze the data and use the results in a report.


The student can describe and reflect on a given research topic. The student is able to identify methodological problems and can place them in a comprehensive experimental overview.


The student will be able to handle some standard equipment for marine biological research and use experimental methods. The student can analyze and explain experimental results and put them into a scientific context.


The student will gain experience and competence working independently with an experimental research project. The student can design, initiate and manage an experiment. The student can evaluate and utilize obtained results in a scientific perspective. The student will gain experience working in groups to solve a scientific problem.

In addition the student will get competence in a variety of fish physiological questions in context with environmental variables.

Lectures, demonstrations, and project-based teaching, with 2 – 3 students per group. The experimental projects are organized and implemented under individual supervision. The project's findings are presented in a written report organized as a scientific paper.

See Absalon.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Note that the teaching will take place at Marine Biological Section in Helsingør.


Each group will have a written feedback on the assignment.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 3 weeks (report)
Oral examination, 30 min. no preparation time
Type of assessment details
Report and oral examination assessed with 1/3 and 2/3 respectively.

The written assignment and the oral examination can be passed separately, and do not need to be passed in the same exam period.

The oral examination is based on the written assignment and may also include questions from the textbook and literature handed out during the course.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Class Instruction
  • 4
  • Preparation
  • 120
  • Practical exercises
  • 4
  • Project work
  • 54
  • Guidance
  • 2
  • Exam
  • 2
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board for the Biological Area
Contracting department
  • Department of Biology
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • John Fleng Steffensen   (12-74707d7e6f70706f787d6f784a6c737938757f386e75)

John Fleng Steffensen and PhD-students

Saved on the 20-06-2023

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