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






April 15, 2024


November 04, 2024


December 11, 2024


Autumn semester (Block 7)

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:15/30 students
Language of instruction:English
Examination support material:Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue

Course requirements

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

Academic content

Academic content

The course is focused on systematic management of risk in the age of climate age. Longyearbyen is experiences changes of the climate at a much higer pace than other places in the world. These changes impact natural hazards which have effects on societal security (protection of critical infrastructure, preservation of societal functions and protection of inhabitants). The course is structured in three modules:

  1. Risk management in the Arctic: theories, models and framework conditions:
    • principles in management of safety
    • decision-making processes and constrains
    • risk assessment and hazard identification
    • risk influencing factors in the Arctic.
    • barrier theory
  2. 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 change adaptation
    • Natural hazard warning systems as a climate adapation measure
    • Collaboration within and across actors, including risk communication
    • Identification and handling of uncertainty
  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 be able to:


  • understand the impact of the Arctic operational context on critical infrastructure
  • explain risk influencing factors and framework conditions for management of safety in an Arctic context
  • 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 community resilience of remote settlements
  • explain the theoretical foundation for different methods and tools used to identify, analyze and evaluate societal safety.
  • explain how different knowledge sources are systematically combined into decision-making support


  • apply methods for governance of climate change risk
  • choose effective climate change adapation measures
  • plan for business continuity management
  • assess risk and uncertainty for different tasks and systems in the Arctic

General competences

  • solve practical tasks in operational risk governance of climate changes in the Arctic

Learning activities

The course extends over 6 weeks, including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AS-804.

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


  • Total lecture hours: 67 hours
  • Total seminar hours: 35 hours
  • Total exercise hours: 15 hours
  • Fieldwork: 2-3 days
  • Excursions: 1 day

Compulsory learning activities

  • Fieldwork
  • Seminars
  • Group presentations
  • Excursions

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


MethodPercentage of final grade
Semester Assignment 1 (individual) 2/3 of the final grade
Semester Assignment 2 (group) – Presentation and paper1/3 of the final grade

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.