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Environmental Biogeochemistry

Course period spring 2022: Monday 17 January - Wednesday 16 February

Biogeochemical cycles of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and other elements are fundamental for life on Earth. These biogeochemical cycles have been altered by human activities, resulting in environmental challenges such as global warming and eutrophication. Fundamental understanding of the biogeochemical cycles, and how they are coupled, is vital in order to both understand and mitigate the consequences of human perturbations. We will in this course explore different biogeochemical cycles, focusing on local to regional terrestrial and aquatic systems, and discuss how they interact and are linked to human activities.

Topics included

  • Biogeochemical processes in soil, inland waters, coastal ocean, sediments and lower atmosphere
  • Interaction between biogeochemical cycles of several elements, and their seasonal and regional variation.
  • Key anthropogenic environmental perturbations and their interactions with regional biogeochemical cycles
  • Effects of natural processes and perturbations on the fate and bioavailability of pollutants
  • Role of biogeochemistry in environmental management concepts and tools, e.g. ecosystem services and the EU Water Framework Directive.
  • Course structure

    Teaching format

    The knowledge base provided through this course will be communicated both in lectures and in seminars where the students take an active role in e.g. scientific literature review and classroom discussions. We will also make a study visit to local governmental organization or to the private sector to exemplify the role biogeochemistry has in environmental management concepts and tools. Participation in seminars and study visit is compulsory. The lectures and seminars will primarily be led by researchers from Stockholm University.


    Assessment takes place through a written exam.


    Cheating and plagiarism

    Cheating of every kind is wholly unacceptable and Stockholm University takes this matter extremely seriously.

    By cheating is meant, for example, that students cooperate in an unauthorized way, use unauthorized resources or otherwise try to cheat in the examination. To use another person’s expressions or ideas without stating the source is plagiarism. To translate and/or change some words in someone else’s text and present it as your own is also a form of plagiarism. Plagiarism is considered cheating and if discovered in an exam or paper, the exam or paper will be failed immediately and disciplinary measures may be taken.

    Any student who is caught cheating or disrupting academic activities may be suspended from lectures and exams for a period of up to six months. The Vice Chancellor or the Disciplinary Council decide whether the student is to be subject to any disciplinary measures.

    Read more about the rules and regulations here:
    Guidelines for Disciplinary Matters at Stockholm University
    Your rights and responsibilities as a student
    Regulations for written seated examination


    Sofi Jonsson

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.

    Course period spring 2022: Monday 17 January - Wednesday 16 February

  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    Recommended book chapters (available through SU-library) and scientific literature will be provided during the course. Most book chapters used will come from Biogeochemistry – An analysis of Global Change (3rd addition, Schlesinger and Bernhardt). This book is available online ( and there is also a few written copies available to borrow at the library (we will primarily work with chapter 5-8).

  • Contact

    Student counsellor

    Course coordinator

    Sofi Jonsson,
    Department of Environmental Science, Unit Biogeochemistry