Course syllabus

SEE015 12 nov.jpg

Very welcome to the course SEE015 – Sustainable Biomass Supply – that runs in study period 2.

There is a large and growing societal interest of bioeconomy and ways to ensure a sustainable outtake of biomass from forests, agriculture, oceans and seas. An important feature of the course organisation in SEE015 is therefore to provide the students with a close interaction with relevant industries and society. However, due to the Covid-19-situation, there are restrictions to industry visits this autumn, and therefor only one day of field trips can be carried out this autumn. Above you see a photo from the class visiting the forest at Ingsered in Hällingsjö on November 12 – this is indeed a nice memory!

More information about the course is found in the course syllabus and in the schedule. If you have any questions regarding the course, just send us an email:


SEE015 SEE015 Sustainable biomass supply lp2 HT20 (7.5 hp)

Course is offered by the department of Space, Earth and Environment


The course aims at giving up-to-date scientific knowledge in ecology and agriculture, forestry and aquatic production systems for food, fuels, chemicals and materials. The course includes an orientation in ethical and economic principles that provide the fundaments to sustainable development, as well as in relevant methods and tools for analysing biomass production systems, including sustainability standards and certification systems.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing the course, the students should be able to:

  • Account for agriculture, forestry & aquatic production systems in different regional perspectives and how the systems affect land, water and other resources
  • Describe fundamental ecological principles that are important for ecosystem functions to support biomass production.
  • Explain the potential impacts of biomass production systems on biodiversity and the state of ecosystem services, including major biogeochemical cycles.
  • Reflect on valuation of ecosystems from different ethical and economic perspectives.
  • Account for relevant methods and tools, and their use for assessing biomass production systems including standards and governance.
  • Appraise options for future biomass production systems, including novel methods and technologies.

Pre-knowledge requirement

Basic university level knowledge in environmental sciences or chemical/biological engineering 

Course content and organization

The course is divided into three parts:

1 – Basic scientific knowledge

The first part gives basic knowledge on biomass production systems, ecological principles, and impacts on ecosystems from biomass production. This part includes around 12 lectures and a mandatory individual hand-in assignment with the aim to deepen the understanding of two essential course topics. This is done by examining and evaluating a scientific article, and peer-reviewing another student’s work. Instructions on the hand-in assignment is given in a separate PM and in lecture on November 2.

2 – Methods for sustainable assessment of biomass production

Part two of the course deals with methods for assessing and valuating biomass production from a broad sustainability perspective, including quality standards and certification schemes for bio-based products. This part includes lectures and a mandatory exercise in environmental ethics.

3 – Group project work to assess future or novel biomass production systems/approaches

In the third part, the students apply the knowledge they have acquired in a case study that focus on finding sustainable solutions for biomass production systems under likely future scenarios. The students work with the cases in groups of three to four students and their work is presented in a written report and an oral presentation. The latter also includes an exercise in reviewing the work of another group, including leading the discussion after their presentation. Information on the project work is given in a separate PM and on November 6.

The societal interest of bioeconomy and increased use of sustainably produced biomass is large and growing. An important feature of the course organization is therefore to provide the students with a close interaction with relevant industries and society. Due to Covid-19, there are restrictions to industry visits this autumn, and therefor only two field trips (one day in total) is planned. Guest lectures and visits from industry and organisations will take place over zoom. Schedules, zoom links and more information can be found in the course site on Canvas;

Teaching and Administration

Course leaders

  • Christel Cederberg (CC),, examiner, Physical Resource Theory, phone: 031-772 2218
  • Ulrika Palme (UP),, Environmental Systems Analysis, phone: 031-772 8607 (after 16 November)


  • Frida Hermansson (FH),, Environmental Systems Analysis, phone: 031-772 6324

Additional teachers from Physcial Resource Theory

  • Göran Berndes, Rasmus Einarsson, Mairon G. Bastos Lima, Martin Persson

Guest lecturers

  • Catrin Gustavsson, Södra Cell
  • David Andersson, Ecoera
  • Urban Emanuelsson, prof emeritus SLU
  • Sofie Allert, Swedish Algae Factory
  • Joshua Mayers, Ind Biotech, Chalmers

Literature etc

Text book

  • Fundamentals of Ecosystem Science by Kathleen Weathers, David Strayer and Gene Likens. 2013 Elsevier. ISBN: 978-0-12-088774-3

Scientific papers and reports

  • Additional papers (to the textbook) will provided in some lectures and made available at the home page
  • A selection of scientific articles to choose for the individual hand in assignment will be listed in “Hand-in-PM” and made available at the home page
  • Specific readings for the projects supplied by the teachers/supervisors

Field trip

  • Thursday November 12, 8.30-16.00: Forestry in practice (morning) and Nature conservation in agriculture and grasslands (afternoon). For students that cannot join field trips, an alternative exercise activity will be provided.


The course is examined through two activities accredited a total of 80 points according to the table below. To pass the course, a student has to collect a minimum of 50 % of the maximum points in total, a minimum of 50% of the maximum points on the exam and a minimum of 60% of the maximum points on the project. To achieve grade 4, 70 % is needed and for grade 5, 85 % of the maximum points.

Activity                Maximum points          Required for pass

Exam                    45                                 50 %

Project                  35                                 60 %

As we see field trips as important, the study visit (or the alternative exercise activity) on 12 November is credited with total 2 bonus points.

Course summary:

Date Details Due