ASTK18213U The politics of maritime security in the Arctic

Volume 2018/2019

Bachelor student: 10 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS


The course is a collaboration between Ilisimatusarfik, the University of Greenland, Memorial University of Newfoundland and University of Copenhagen and financially supported by the University of the Arctic  (UArctic). The course takes place in Nuuk, 12 - 25 August 2019.


Maritime security is a key and cross-cutting issue in Arctic politics. It is high on the regional political agenda and seen as a key concern for the future development of the Arctic region, since safety and security are prerequisites for the development of Arctic communities. However, the maritime Arctic territory is often characterized by low temperatures, sea ice, long distances, limited infrastructure, sparsely populated areas, scarcity of resources for search and rescue, and vulnerabilities related to human life, communities and the environment. These characteristics pose severe challenges to all human activities in the Arctic. To promote safety and security, these risks call for developing emergency preparedness and capabilities for response to avoid or reduce risks in terms of unwanted and unexpected incidents that threaten human lives, the environment or society at large. The Arctic needs robust security risk management systems for example in terms of search and rescue (SAR) and oil spill response (OSR).

The overall goal of the summer course is to facilitate an understanding of how safety and security is organized and regulated regionally, nationally and locally in the Arctic in general and for instance as part of the politics within the Danish Realm including the multilevel links between Danish governmental authorities and the sub-state authorities of the Faroe Islands and Greenland. How are sub-state entities represented in relevant regional organizations in the Arctic like the Working Group of the Arctic Council on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) and the Arctic Coast Guard Forum? What is their role in the geopolitics of the Arctic? The summer course also serves as a lens to investigate different scales of Arctic politics and their interconnectedness. Taking place in Nuuk, the participants in the course will have access to a wide range of public policy decision-makers involved in maritime security, Danish and Greenlandic authorities that are responsible for the emergency preparedness system, shipping companies and other stakeholders of maritime activities.

The point of departure for the summer course will be the narratives of regional change in the Arctic that are framing the conceptions and perspectives of safety and security: Climate change results in melting sea ice. This is often articulated as opening up economic opportunities that will result in increased maritime activities and societal change in the Arctic, but also internationalization and increased economic, social and political interdependence between regional Arctic and global development. Theoretically the course will build on recent and ongoing research activities, including developments within security studies, public policy and maritime security.

Learning Outcome


The course objective is to enable students to demonstrate knowledge of the main strands of the scientific literature, reports and white papers within political theory, comparative politics and international relations.



The course objective is to enable students to fulfil academic functions in public and private enterprises, and adequately handle these in national and international contexts, and successfully to continue their education at the postgraduate level.



The course objective is to enable students to apply theories and analyse one or more cases comparing single aspect or/and asses the interactions of several aspects, and be able to make informed, analytical evaluations of the developments, present situation or/and future perspectives.

Ackrén, M., & Jakobsen, U. (2015). Greenland as a self-governing sub-national territory in international relations: past, current and future perspectives. Polar Record, 51(04), 404–412.


Buzan, B., Wæver, O., Waever, O., & Wilde, J. de. (1998). Security: A New Framework for Analysis.


Cavelty, M. D., & Balzacq, T. (2016). Routledge Handbook of Security Studies. London: Routledge.


Government of Denmark. (2018). Foreign and security policy strategy 2019-2020. Copenhagen: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Hovgaard, G., & Ackrén, M. (2018). Autonomy in Denmark: Greenland and the Faroe Islands. In D. Muro & E. Woertz (Red.), Secession and Counter-secession. An International Relations Perspective (s. 69–76). Barcelona: CIDOB.


Jakobsen, U., & í Dali, B. (2016). The Greenlandic sea areas and activity level up to 2025. In O. J. Borch & N. Andreassen (eds.), Maritime activity in the High North: current and estimated level up to 2025: MARPART Project Report 1. Bodø: Nord University.


Jakobsen, U., & Kern, B. (2016). Maritime activity risk patterns and types of unwanted incidents: The Greenlandic sea areas. In O. J. Borch & N. Andreassen (eds.), Maritime activity and risk patterns in the High North: MARPART Project Report 2 (s. 87–106). Bodø: Nord University.


Kristensen, K. S., & Rahbek-Clemmensen, J. (eds.). (2018). Greenland and the International Politics of a Changing Arctic: Postcolonial Paradiplomacy between High and Low Politics. London & New York: Routledge.


Kraska, J. (2011). Arctic Security in an Age of Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Lauta, K. C., Vendelø, M. T., Sørensen, B. R., & Dahlberg, R. (2017). Conceptualizing cold disasters: Disaster risk governance at the Arctic edge. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.


Marchenko, N., Andreassen, N., Borch, O. J., Kuznetsova, S., Ingimundarson, V., & Jakobsen, U. (2018). Arctic Shipping and Risks: Emergency Categories and Response Capacities. TransNav. The International Journal on Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation, 12(1), 107–114.


Palosaari, T., & Tynkkynen, N. Arctic securitization and climate change. In L. C. Jensen & G. Hønneland (eds.), Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic (s. 87–104). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar


Rahbek-Clemmensen, J., & Thomasen, G. (2018). Learning from the Ilulissat Initiative: State Power, Institutional Legitimacy, and Governance in the Arctic Ocean 2007-18. Copenhagen: Centre for Military Studies.


Roud, E. K. P., Borch, O. J., Jakobsen, U., & Marchenko, N. (2016). Maritime Emergency Management Capabilities in the Arctic. Procedings of the International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference, 1241–1248.


Solberg, K. E., Brown, R., Skogvoll, E., & Gudmestad, O. T. (2017). Risk Reduction as a Result of Implementation  of the Functional Based IMO Polar Code in the Arctic Cruise Industry. In K. Latola & H. Savela (eds.), The interconnected Arctic - UArctic Congress 2016 (s. 257–268). New York: Springer.


Tamnes, R. & Offerdal, K. (eds.) (2014). Geopolitics and security in the Arctic, regional dynamics in a global world. London and New York: Routledge.


Williams, P. D. (2012). Security studies: An introduction. London and New York: Routledge.


Østhagen, A. (2017). Utilising Local Capacities. Maritime Emergency Response across the Arctic. Copenhagen: Centre for Military Studies.

The teaching will be based on the principle of ‘student-centred learning’ and take the form of lectures, student presentations and discussions as well as presentations by invited guests and visits at institutions dealing with different aspects of developments in the Arctic
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner