ASTK18220U New threats in the Arctic: Climate change and security risk management of increasing maritime activity in the Arctic

Volume 2018/2019

Bachelor student: 10 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS


Climate change and global warming results in melting sea ice in the Arctic. This is often articulated as opening up opportunities of natural resource extraction and new shipping routes in the Arctic that will result in increased maritime activities and societal changes. However, together with these opportunities also come the challenges of increased maritime activities that can result in several types of risks in the Arctic, like risks of pollution and risks of accidents, which generates needs of capacities for prevention, preparedness and response in case of oil spill response (OSR) and search and rescue (SAR) operations and institutions in the Arctic. Since the Arctic is such a huge territory with a relatively small number of stakeholders, spread over a huge territory, there is an increasing need for domestic and transnational cooperation among Arctic communities and states to prevent conflicts and develop further cooperation.

The course will focus on investigating and assessing possibilities of trans-border security risk management and partnership building in the Arctic among Arctic states. And between Arctic states and non-Arctic states that recently have gained access to the Arctic Council activities as observer states of the Arctic Council for the purpose of discussing gains and losses of an often suggested transformation of the Arctic Council from an intergovernmental forum of deliberations to a legally binding decision making organization.



- Introduction to the course and literatures

- The Arctic – Economy, society and politics

- The geopolitics of the Arctic

- Societal impacts of climate change

- Maritime security

- Maritime security risk management

- Capabilities in the Arctic: Military, civilian and volunteer

- Scenarios of conflict or cooperation in the Arctic

- Governance: The Arctic between local and global concerns

- Feedback on proposals for final assignments

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.



Alexei Bambulyak, Åre Kristoffer Sydnes and Maria Sydnes (2015). Oil-spill response in the Russian Arctic. In: Leif Christian Jensen and Heir Hønneland, Handbook of Politics of the Arctic, 66-86.


Anton Vasiliev (2013). The Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic - A New Chapter in Polar Law. In: Nathalia Loukacheva (ed.), Polar Law Textbook II, 53-65.


Charles K. Ebinger and Evie Zambetakis (2009). The Geopolitics of Arctic Melt, International Affairs, 85(6), 1215-1232.


Christian Le Mière and Jeffrey Mazo (2013). Arctic opening: Insecurity and opportunity. Oxford: Routledge  (The International Institute for Strategic Studies).


Elizabeth Elliot-Meisel (2009). Politics, Pride, and Precedent: The United States and Canada in the Northwest Passage, Ocean Development and International Law, 40(2), 204-232. (E-journal)


Ensieh Kheiri Pileh Roud, Odd Jarl Borch, Uffe Jakobsen and Nataly Marchenko (2016). Maritime emergency management capabilities in the Arctic. International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference. Proceedings (ISOPE) 2016.


Geir Hønneland (ed.) (2013). The Politics of the Arctic, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar


Olav Schram Stokke (2011). Environmental security in the Arctic: The case for multilevel governance. International Journal, 66, 835-848.


Klaus Dodds (2010). Flag Planting and Finger Pointing: The Law of the Sea, the Arctic and the Political Geographies of the Outer Continental Shelf, Political Geography, 29, 63-73.


Kristian Åtland (2008). Mikhail Gorbachev, the Murmansk Initiative, and the Desecuritization of Interstate Relations  in the Arctic, Cooperation and Conflict, 43(3), 289-311.


Leiv Lunde, Yang Jian and Iselin Stensdal (eds.) (2015). Asian countries and the Arctic future, New Jersey: World Scientific.


Mark Carey (2012). Climate and history: a critical review of historical climatology and climate change historiography, Climate Change, Vol.3(3), 233-249.


Mark Nutall (2012). Tipping Points and the Human World: Living with Change and Thinking about the Future, AMBIO, 41(1), 96-105


Njord Wegge (2011). The Political Order in the Arctic: Power Structures, Regimes and Influence, Polar Record, 47 (241), 165-176.


Paul D. Williams (ed.) (2013). Security Studies: An introduction. London: Routledge     .


Rolf Tamnes and Kristine Offerdal (eds.) (2014), Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic, London and New York: Routledge.


Timo Koivurova (2011). The Actions of the Arctic States Respecting the Continental Shelf: A Reflective Essay, Ocean Development and International Law, 42(3), 211-26.

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
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free 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