AS-304 Risk, Technology and Human Performance in Arctic Operations (10 ECTS)

From the Arctic Safety Centre pilot course “Safety Course for Arctic Field Stations” 1–8 October 2018. Photo: Ann Christin Auestad/UNIS

October 24, 2022
November 25, 2022
Autumn semester (October–November), annually
Letter grade (A through F)
Published articles, book chapters, standard software packages, lecture notes; approximately 500 pages.
10/20 students
April 15, 2022


Abbas Barabadi
Adjunct 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:

Challenging operational conditions in the Arctic may significantly change human and technical system performance and increase accident risk for any activities. The course aims to introduce how Arctic operational conditions may affect human and technical equipment performance as well as the resilience of critical infrastructures. The course gives an introduction to appropriate models to quantify these effects. The course also provides an understanding to support decisions regarding the design and operation of technology in the Arctic region. The course will be beneficial for students who specialize in designing and planning different activities (e.g., maintenance, operation, emergency evacuation, etc.) for cold areas, especially the Arctic region.

In addition to an introduction to natural and man-made hazards in the Arctic the course content can be categorized into three modules:

  1. Human and equipment performance in cold climate conditions
    • Human error and human reliability
    • Failure mechanism in a cold climate
    • Reliability, maintainability and availability analysis (RAM) of equipment operating in the Arctic
  2. Risk and uncertainty analysis in the Arctic
    • Sources of uncertainties in the Arctic
    • Expert judgment in uncertainty analysis
  3. Resilience concept and unforeseen failure in the complex operational conditions
    • Critical infrastructures resilience
    • Application of new technology for resilience assessment and improvement of critical infrastructures
    • Spare part prediction and Inventory management.

Learning outcomes:

The course will provide students with advanced, scientifically based, interdisciplinary knowledge. This knowledge will enable them to identify technical and operational challenges related to different types of activities in cold climate conditions, including quantifying the effect of these challenges on human and system performances considering different sources of uncertainties.

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

  • describe and explain
    • human performance, human error and human reliability in the context of the Arctic area
    • material behavior and expected failure modes in cold climate
    • the resilience concept of infrastructure in the Arctic region
    • the risk and uncertainty analysis in cold climates
  • understand
    • how Arctic operational conditions will affect human and complex technical system performance
    • main sources of uncertainty for establishing safe activities in the Arctic area
    • logistics and spare part planning challenges
  • appreciate
    • suitable models for quantifying the effect of the Arctic operational conditions on the human and equipment performance as well as logistics and spare part planning
    • the application of available databases and expert judgement in the risk and uncertainty analysis.

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

  • quantify the impact of the Arctic operational conditions on human and system performance using the available database as well as based on expert opinions
  • apply the learned knowledge to the operation design to improve the safety
  • identify solutions on design for cold climate and Arctic regions.

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

  • be aware of current research issues, knowledge base, and methodologies to understand the effect of Arctic operational conditions on human and system performance
  • apply the obtained competence to provide essential information for the diverse groups dealing with establishing an activity, where their knowledge base and skills provide essential knowledge regarding human and technical system performance under the dynamic Arctic operational conditions
  • communicate scientific knowledge and research orally and in writing.

Learning activities

The course extends over five weeks including compulsory safety training.

The effective learning of this course is based on:

  • lectures, seminars, computer lab exercises, and field excursions founded on a knowledge base about Arctic operational conditions, risk and reliability theory, and basic data collection and analysis methods
  • practical experience in exploring applied design and operation strategy in companies operating at Svalbard through lectures, fieldwork, and interview with the experts
  • group work that evaluates the available logistic, failure, and Arctic accident reports.

Total lecture hours: 35 hours
Total seminar hours: 35 hours
Total exercise hours: 15 hours
Fieldwork: 2–3 days
Excursions: 2 days

Compulsory learning activities:

Fieldwork, seminars, computer lab exercises, group presentations, excursions.

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


Method Percentage of final grade
Project work including written report (group work)


Take-home exam (individual)


All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.
Each assessment is graded, and subsequently combined into a single grade. Partial grades for each assessment will be available. 

Application deadline: 15 April 2022

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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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Arctic Education and Research for Global Challenges

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