ISSMN4030 – A Changing Arctic

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Course content

The Arctic has gained increased public, political, commercial and academic interest over the last decade, as global climate change continues to transform the region. Key issues range from climate change to polar ecosystems, and from shipping routes to indigenous rights. States, international organizations and private interests, including emerging economies in Asia, now show a keen interest in the High North and the Arctic at large.There is an increasing demand for state-of-the-art knowledge about the region from truly interdisciplinary viewpoints and multi-scale perspectives (e.g. past, present and future changes, as well as feedbacks between and within the environment and society). 

The course will be structured around three major modules with the opportunity for cross-thematic discussions and knowledge transfer; (1) Natural Sciences and Technology,  (2) Law and Legal Regimes, and (3) Governance and Society.

Across these three modules, students will: 

  • identify and discuss the diverse stakeholders and members of the Arctic community; locally and globally
  • identify how key Arctic issues and the needs of the stakeholders have changed through time; including the past, present, and future
  • develop an understanding of the multi-scale interactions between the Arctic physical environment and living systems
  • seed the development of collaborative, rather than unilateral, and interdisciplinary solutions to the common problems that face the region.

Furthermore, the course also aims to raise the profile of the Northern and Arctic region, and Arctic studies more widely. Through the digital-only format we aim to connect polar and Arctic researchers, local communities, students, policymakers, educators and enthusiasts; including those with early-career and established profiles.

Learning outcome

By the end of the course, students will:           

  • Develop knowledge and an understanding of the Arctic’s natural habitat, including its changes over time and plausible future trajectories,
  • Explain the development of the unique features of the Arctic Ocean and surrounding continents,
  • Explain uncertainties in scientific data and models,
  • Increase awareness about how changes in the Arctic affect legal developments in light of political tensions and international governance challenges.
  • Provide an understanding of international law rules governing the Arctic region, with a particular focus on marine law
  • Examine how national states regulate activities in the Arctic, including indigenous rights, in light of international law
  • Understand core Arctic governance challenges and opportunities, from diplomatic cooperation, through legacies of colonization, to security rivalry
  • Connect local and national challenges to circumpolar politics, particularly through understanding the agency of indigenous peoples in Arctic politics
  • Examine the intersection of science and circumpolar politics, including issues relating to indigenous knowledges/traditional ecological knowledge


If you would like to take this course, you must apply directly to the International Summer School.
Only students admitted to the course may take part in instruction.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

A completed Bachelor's degree or a period of study comparable with a Norwegian Bachelor's degree from a recognized institution. Minimum academic requirements. A related degree in law, social sciences or natural sciences will be an advantage, but students with other bachelor degrees can apply.

Recommended previous knowledge

A related degree in law, social sciences or natural sciences will be an advantage, but students with other bachelor degrees can apply. Documented professional experience within Arctic-related areas may also qualify applicants even though their academic background does not match the course profile. Non-students e.g. those working for non-governmental organizations, can apply for admission but actively enrolled Masters students will be prioritised.


This online course consists of approximately 30 lecture topics; which require the equivalent workload of around 2 hours each (scheduled 12 hours per week for 5 weeks).  The teaching format will be a combination of pre-recorded lectures and online (synchronous) sessions. Additional activities will include readings, assignments, discussions, seminars, group exercises, and individual follow up on the basis of self-study.  

For the synchronous ("real-time") sessions, class time will be between 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. CEST, during a period of five weeks with the exam in the sixth week. Lectures held in real-time will also be recorded and made available online to the extent possible. Participants are expected to prepare for specific lectures by reading the pre-assigned literature or completing other activities. 

Active participation throughout the course is expected of all students, and attendance during realtime lectures, seminars and discussions is required. The parts of the course based on (pre)recorded materials can be accessed by the students according to the weekly schedule. 

For remote learning, the University of Oslo uses secure Zoom video conferencing, and Canvas, the learning management system at UiO. Access to these platforms is provided by UiO to admitted students when they get a UiO username and password.


The final grade consists of two components:

  • Group assignment (50% of the total grade)
  • Take-home examination (50% of the total grade)

You can check your results and order transcripts in Studentweb three weeks after the exam.

Digital examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in at the ISS Office two days before the examination together with the support material form.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Candidates who have a re-scheduled or new examination are allowed take the next ordinary examination. Candidates who are re-sitting NORA exams can also re-sit the exam in the summer at the ISS exam. If you have successfully passed obligatory assignments, or other compulsory activities required before you are qualified to attend the exam, you need not re-sit these.

Only students with either valid absence (doctors note) or students who failed the exam can re-sit an exam. 

Withdrawal from an examination

A student can take the class and sit for this exam up to 3 times. If a student wishes to withdraw from the exam, s/he must submit the Course change and withdrawal request form  at the latest one week before the exam. Failure to do so will be counted as one of the three opportunities to sit for the exam, which is the general rule at UiO.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every summer


Every summer

Teaching language