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






April 15, 2024


September 23, 2024


November 01, 2024


Autumn semester (Block 6)

Emergency Exercise Svalbard, 4–5 November 2014. Photo: Stefan Claes/UNIS

Grade:Letter grade (A through F)
Course Cost:None
Course Capacity Min/Max:15/30 students
Language of instruction:English
Examination support material:Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue

Course requirements

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

Academic content

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. The course emphasizes emergency preparedness and management in an Arctic context. Fundamental concepts in the course are hazard, risk, resilience, preparedness, crises, emergency and crisis management.

All these hazards and events form the basis for our prevention and preparedness activities. Resilient communities and organizations 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 organizational) 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 land-based operations in an Arctic context, but also, to some degree, 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 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


  • 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
  • write an academic paper on specific challenges related to emergency preparedness and response in the Arctic

General competences

  • 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 6 weeks, including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AS-803.

The first three weeks extend of lectures and group work, 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 utilizing emergency preparedness and response concepts to discuss the special conditions and challenges of Arctic operations.


  • Total lecture hours: 55 hours
  • Total seminar hours: 40 hours
  • Total exercise hours: 20 hours
  • Fieldwork: 1 day
  • Excursions: 1 day
  • Self-studies: 100 hours

Compulsory learning activities

  • Fieldwork
  • Excursions

All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


MethodPercentage of final grade
Individual essay to be handed in at the end of the course 100%

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

Student life

Øvelse Svalbard 2014. Helikopter, personer, fjord, fjell.
Helicopter rescue during an emergency exercise in Svalbard, November 2014. Photo: Stefan Claes/UNIS