AB-203 Arctic Environmental Management (15 ECTS)

Scooter excursion to Tempelfjorden

How to apply

8 January 2018
27 April 2018
Spring semester (January–June), annually
Letter grade (A through F)
Curriculum/reading list: Ca. 650 pages based on scientific papers and book chapters.
Excursion: NOK 200 (1 day x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
10/20 students
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
15 October 2017


Anna Vader
Anna Vader
Associate Professor, Arctic Marine Biology

Course requirements:

60 ECTS within general natural sciences, of which 30 ECTS within the field of biology. The applicant must be enrolled in a programme at Bachelor level, or document that the courses are approved into the applicant’s current study programme.

Academic content:

The development of management strategies and practice is presented against the basic knowledge of the geophysical and biological processes together with the politics characterizing the Arctic. The focus is on the Svalbard region of the European Arctic.

The course presents an introduction to the Svalbard community; the Svalbard Treaty; international conventions, and legal regulations as a framework for managerial rule in the Svalbard region, Arctic Council and international organizations; structure, legal basis and fields of responsibilities for institutions involved in the management of Arctic natural resources; the philosophy of Arctic management, basic information on the Arctic geophysical environment, ecosystems and resource dynamics, human presence in the Arctic geophysical environmental, ecosystem, and natural resources; challenges and conflict scenarios relating to resource management in the Arctic including environmental impact assessment protocols.; .

The course introduces students to procedures, methods and technology central to environmental monitoring and management planning. Problem-based projects and role playing workshops provide insight into the subtle role of cultural differences in the management of the Arctic.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will have:

First-hand knowledge of the key Arctic environmental issues, in particular, a comprehensive understanding of climate, system ecology, management schemes, legal frameworks and challenges pertaining to the environment and the utilization of natural resources in the Arctic. Specifically, an understanding of the complexity of Arctic management embracing the cross-dicsiplinary aspects of fisheries, minerals, pollutants, environmental impact assessments, Svalbard Treaty and Svalbard Environmental Act, international law and relations. Through the acquired understanding of population biology of selected Arctic animals, an appreciation of how these factors influence sustainable harvesting, the philosophy of management and environmental protection. A comprehension of the stresses on the environment and communities inhabiting this unique region and of the intricacy of Arctic environmental issues and the cross-state boundary nature of these concerns.  Understand how human activities influence the ecology of the Arctic.

Upon completing the course, the students will have:

Basic skills and background to pursue a career in environmental conservation and the management of natural resources will be gained. A clear comprehension and understanding of  the current and future stressors impacting the Arctic. An ability to understand cultural differences, and aspirations.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

Be able to demonstrate an understanding of spatio-temporal dynamics of natural resources, ecological interactions and how these are affected by climate and human activity with specific reference to polar regions. Appreciate the concept of sustainable exploitation. Be able to demonstrate an ability to present a management based theme to an audience and to debate this subject. Have experience of the negotiation procedures resulting in the signing of international treaties and conventions, and the complexities of such negotiations including the consequence of diverse cultural values.  Be able to indicate the strengths and weaknesses of such agreements. Have knowledge of the governance of the Arctic, and an understanding of the on-going development in Arctic regions and international tensions. Have experience of working as part of a team in managing conflicting aspirations and needs.

Learning activities:

The course is based around lectures with additional seminars, role-playing workshops, student-led teaching, and presentation sessions. The lectures outline the various aspects of the environment and human activity including exploitation of resources and governance. The Barents Sea region is used as a case study but other Arctic regions are integrated. Student-led teaching and subsequent workshops/seminars under the guidance of expert lecturers introduce students to the various elements covered by the course and provide experience of group-work, presentation and debating.

The workshops illustrate in a practical manner the complexities of international negotiations, including the importance of appreciating cultural values, and the process of writing a comprehensive and inclusive environmental impact assessment. 20% of the course assessment comes from a student selected presentation. Research for these presentations requires students to gain first hand views and opinions of people living and working in Longyearbyen. These presentations provide the students with the opportunity to discuss in depth a subject pertinent to environmental management with actors in Longyearbyen and present their findings to an audience.

Total lecture hours: ca. 50 hours.
Total workshop and seminar hours: ca. 40 hours.
Excursions: 2–4 excursions.

Compulsory learning activities:

All workshops, seminars and excursions, oral presentation.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the final oral  exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Oral presentation of case study
Oral exam 30 minutes/student

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.

Only the final grade will be reported, based on the weighted average of the grades from the examination parts.

Application deadline: 15 October 2017

Snow scooter excursion to Barentsburg

AB-203 students on excursion to Barentsburg. Photo: Mads Forchhammer/UNIS.

Guided tour in Barentsburg

AB-203 students on a guided tour around Barentsburg. Photo: Mads Forchhammer/UNIS.

Lecture at Svalbard Satellite Station

AB-203 lecture at Svalbard Satellite Station (Svalsat). Photo: Mads Forchhammer/UNIS.

Student group photo on 8 March

Happy AB-203 students celebrate the return of the Sun on 8 March. Photo: Mads Forchhammer/UNIS.

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