AS-304 Risk handling in the Arctic operational context (10 ECTS)






April 15, 2024


November 04, 2024


December 13, 2024


Autumn semester (Block 7: Week 45-50)

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

Grade:Letter grade (A through F)
Course Cost:None
Course Capacity Min/Max:10/30 students
Language of instruction:English
Examination support material:Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue

Contact person

Course requirements

Enrollment in a relevant master program in social-, technological- or natural sciences.

Academic content

Academic content

  1. Risk governance of climate-related systemic risk in the Arctic. The climate is already changing more rapidly in the Arctic than anywhere else in the world. Climate change impacts natural hazards that furthermore have effects on the protection of critical infrastructures and societal functions and inhabitants. This means that successful risk governance strategies in response to worsening climate conditions is required, both as long-term risk mitigation approaches and short-term climate change adaptation strategies. Topics included in the module are:
    • Sustainability and resilient communities
    • Climate adaptation
    • New technology development in snow avalanche warning systems
    • Risk governance, including risk communication
    • Identification and handling of uncertainty
  2. Human performance in the operative context of the Arctic. Challenging operational conditions, in particular harsh weather conditions, in the Arctic impact human performance and increase accident risk for any activities. Thus, safe and reliable operations in the Arctic requires an understanding of both human performance in these conditions as well as of the organizational and environmental Arctic context. Topics included in the module are:
    • Arctic operational conditions
    • Psychological safety
    • Situation awareness
    • Human factors methods: task analysis and human error identification
    • Organizational safety theories relevant for the understanding of human performance
    • Human error
  3. Organizational operations under Arctic conditions. Harsh weather conditions, remoteness and limited access to infrastructures and resources impact operations in the Arctic. The performance of technology and infrastructure are influenced by extreme weather conditions. Due to remoteness and limited access to resources adaptations to situations are required. Topics included in the module are:
    • Critical infrastructure protection
    • Planning for business continuity risk under Arctic conditions
    • The use of available resources in remote settings
    • Community resilience – systems and approaches in remote settlements

Learning outcomes

The course will provide students with advanced, scientifically based, interdisciplinary knowledge about a changing  operational Arctic context  and the impact on  performance of humans, organizations, infrastructure and societies. This knowledge will able 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:


  • understand how climate change in the Arctic affect societal safety
  • explain steps and principles of risk governance to handle risk in the age of climate change
  • categorize different sources to uncertainty in climate change risk governance
  • explain human errors and how they can occur.
  • understand team processes and psychological safety in teams
  • understand how mindful organizing provide skills for managing the unexpected
  • explain situation awareness in teams
  • understand the impact of the Arctic operational context on critical infrastructure
  • explain community resilience of remote settlements


  • apply methods for governance of climate change risk
  • reflect critically on how human factors affect decision making
  • assess distributed situational awareness in teams
  • build psychological safety in teams
  • conduct human factors methods including task analysis and human error identification
  • plan for business continuity management

General competences

  • be aware of current research issues, knowledge base, and methodologies to understand the effect of the Arctic operational context on human and system performance
  • solve practical tasks in operational safety management in the Arctic

Learning activities

The course extends over five weeks, including compulsory safety training. 

The effective learning of this course is based on:

  • lectures, seminars and field excursions 
  • exercises containing application of theories, methods and tools on Arctic cases
  • practical experience in exploring applied design and operation strategy in companies operating in the Arctic
  • problem solving in groups

Compulsory learning activities

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

  • Fieldwork
  • Seminars
  • Computer lab exercises
  • Group presentations
  • Excursions


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. 

MethodPercentage of final grade
Semester Assignment 1 (individual)

1/3 of final grade

Semester Assignment 2 (group)

1/3 of final grade

Semester Assignment 3 (group)

1/3 of final grade