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65 403 Ecology for Landscape Architecture

Full course name in Norwegian Bokmål: 
Ecology for Landscape Architecture
Course code: 
65 403
Level of study: 
Teaching semester: 
2020 Spring
Assessment semester: 
2020 Spring
Language of instruction: 
Required prerequisite knowledge

Admission to AHO and successful completion of three years bachelor level studies (180 ECTS) in landscape architecture or architecture from university or university college.

The course is part of the Tromsø Academy of Landscape and Territorial Studies and requiers that the students live in Tromsø for the duration of the course.

Course content

Course responsible:

Eva Breitschopf


An introduction to ecology for landscape architecture.

The terms ecology/ecological will be examined and defined. The focus will be on how ecology as science has relevance for landscape architects as inspiration, information and qualification in their work and their design.

Fundamental ecological theories, terms and concepts describing different plant types or plant forms, including their traits, coupling to soil, soil organisms and ecological function, are central to the course. It will be emphasized how ecological function is linked to plant form and thus how design based on plant form has a link to ecological function.

The course will also introduce the term biodiversity, including examples of how biodiversity is an integrated part of ecosystems and essential for ecosystem services. Examples of naturally vegetated areas in cold climates and borders towards these will be given particular focus.



Teaching and learning are centred on lectures, assignments, small laboratory project work and includes training in and introduction to:

  • What is ecology
  • How plant form and function is linked
  • How plants, soil and soil organisms are coupled
  • Design and ecological interpretation
  • Biodiversity
  • How biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services are linked


In addition, a significant amount of the course will be focused on the interpretation of existing landscape architecture projects, how they have integrated ecology and how ecology can be integrated more.

The course will work in close collaboration with the parallel studio course “Nixtopia” and give ecological input applicable to the project. The integrative approach of both courses will be supported by tutoring and participation in group-reviews for the studio project by the teachers.

Learning outcome


  • Definition and delimitation of the terms ecology and ecological
  • Basic knowledge of how exterior plant traits and form are linked to ecological function
  • Basic knowledge of the relationship between plants and soil, with particular emphasis on:
    • Ecological niche as a term and how an ecological niche is reflected in anatomy, physiology and basic living conditions for individual species
    • The concept of ecological interaction and associated concepts such as competition, facilitation and symbiosis between species
    • The concept of ecological processes and related concepts such as decomposition and nutrient cycling in soil
  • Definition of the term biodiversity
  • Knowledge of how biodiversity is an integral part of an ecosystem and ecosystem services





  • Confident with the definition of ecology as a term
  • Can explain differences in anatomy, physiology and ecological function for different growth forms such as forbs, grasses, shrubs and trees, at a basic level
  • Can integrate abstract ecological concepts into the understanding of how plants and soil work together in a system
  • Can provide an interpretation of ecological function based on the plants present in a given landscape
  • Confident with the definition of biodiversity, ecosystem and ecosystem services as terms
  • Can identify how and to what extent ecology is integrated into existing landscape architecture projects


General competence:

  • Basic understanding of ecology as a relevant discipline for landscape architecture
  • Knowledge and experimentation with plants and soil
  • Know examples of ecological concepts applied to plants and soil
  • Know examples of how biodiversity is central to ecosystem services
  • Explain ecological content, written and orally
  • Ability to be inspired by ecological concepts and theory in the development of landscape architecture
Working and learning activities

Practical organisation and working methods:

  • Teaching will be provided in the form of lectures, seminars/workshops and lab work
  • Joint reviews where students submit individual or group work will be an important part of the training
  • The contact between teachers and students takes place in one-on-one discussions, in groups or in plenum.




  1. Written exam, assessed as pass/fail
  2. Home exam, written report, assessed pass/fail

The course responsible provides relevant literature prior to the according topics.