AS-303 Emergency Preparedness and Response in the Arctic (10 ECTS)

Øvelse Svalbard 2014. Helikopter, personer, fjord, fjell.

September 19, 2022
October 21, 2022
Autumn semester (September–October), annually
Letter grade (A through F)
• Key literature in crisis preparedness and response (Alexander, Dynes, Quarantelli, Perry & Lindell, etc.) • Case descriptions from incidents and accidents in the Arctic • Research on emergency preparedness and response, also in the Arctic
10/20 students
April 15, 2022


Bjørn Ivar Kruke
Adjunct associate Professor, Arctic Safety Centre

UNIS contact person: Martin Indreiten

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant master programme in social-, technological- or natural sciences.

Academic content:

This course is an introduction to emergency preparedness and management in an Arctic context. Fundamental concepts in the course are hazard, risk, resilience, preparedness, crises, emergency and crisis management.

The course will be particularly useful for students who specialize in emergency preparedness and/or crisis management, in particular in extremely rural contexts, such as the Arctic.

The course takes the stand that emergencies can be triggered by manmade- or natural events. They can develop partly because of environmental problems, climate related events, society’s reliance on complex technological systems, epidemic outbreaks of communicable diseases, declining food security, declining confidence in key institutions in society, poor planning, etc.

All these hazards and events form the basis for our prevention and preparedness activities. Resilient communities and organisations are both robust, i.e. they prevent hazards turning into crises, but they also prepare for the residual risk, i.e. the events that could not be prevented. Therefore, preparedness planning and training forms a major part of the course in emergency preparedness and response in the Arctic.

The course puts special emphasis on the following:

  • The particular challenges of the Arctic, such as remoteness, cold climate, long distances, darkness, etc.
  • Key characteristics of different types of undesirable events, such as incidents, accidents, crises, emergencies and disasters.
  • Key challenges (individual and organisational) we may face in different types of undesired events (such as stress and stress management (human reactions prior to, during and after undesirable events); information collection, communication and processing; decision-making; emergency management).
  • Understanding of the structure of the preparedness and response systems in the Arctic, with special emphasis on Svalbard.
  • International maritime preparedness and emergency management.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will be provided with skills, knowledge and competence on emergency preparedness and management, with particular focus on an Arctic context, especially onshore, but also offshore. Emergency preparedness and response in the Arctic is an intensive course founded on interdisciplinary research and empirical findings and cases reflecting the special Arctic conditions and challenges.

Upon completing the course, the students will be able to:

  • understand and explain the most relevant conditions and challenges related to emergency preparedness and crisis response in the Arctic
  • identify and describe various types of undesirable events (natural and created by society, intentional and unintentional)
  • describe key concepts on emergency preparedness and management
  • explain the purpose of preparedness, in relation to both prevention and response
  • explain the responsibilities and experiences of planning, coordination and management of emergencies
  • explain human reactions in acute emergencies
  • describe systems of international maritime emergency preparedness and response.

Upon completing the course, the students will be able to:

  • reflect critically on the special Arctic conditions and challenges
  • reflect critically on the relevance of current research on emergency preparedness and response presented in the course, with particular emphasis on the special Arctic conditions and challenges
  • use the concepts presented in the course to reflect on the quality and relevance of emergency preparedness and response in the Arctic

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will be able to:

  • prepare for the management of a variety of emergencies, with particular emphasis on the special Arctic conditions and challenges
  • understand the relationships between prevention and preparedness, and between preparedness planning and training, and the quality of emergency response.

Learning activities:

The course extends over 5 weeks including compulsory safety training with lectures and group work the first two weeks, followed by three weeks of individual work on the course essay.

The effective learning of this course is based on:

  • a thorough and critical understanding of key concepts such as emergency preparedness and response through lectures, classroom discussions and literature studies
  • building a knowledge base of the special Arctic conditions and challenges through lectures, classroom discussions, seminars, literature studies, field excursions and interviews with key actors involved in emergency preparedness and response
  • individual home exam utilising emergency preparedness and response concepts to discuss the special conditions and challenges of Arctic operations.

Total lecture hours: 57 hours
Total seminar hours: 40 hours
Total exercise hours: 20 hours
Fieldwork: 1 day
Excursions: 1 day

Compulsory learning activities:

Fieldwork, excursions.

All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to be registered for the final assessment.


Method Percentage of final grade
Individual essay to be written after the course



Application deadline: 15 April 2022

Øvelse Svalbard 2014. Helikopter, personer, fjord, fjell.

Helicopter rescue during an emergency exercise in Svalbard, November 2014. Photo: Stefan Claes/UNIS

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The University Centre in Svalbard
Telephone: +47 79 02 33 00
Student inquiries:
E-mail: /
Address: P.O. Box 156 N-9171 Longyearbyen
Org. no. 985 204 454


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