spring 2021
SPL-3011 Arctic Cities - 10 ECTS

Last changed 11.08.2021

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. Exchange students and Fulbright students: 1 October for the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

The course may be taken as a singular course. 

Admission requirements

Bachelor degree in social sciences is required as a general rule.  The minimum average grade requirement is: C - for bachelor's degree or equivalent issued in Europe, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand B - for bachelor's degree or equivalent issued in all other countries

The course is open for students accepted in master's degree programmes in other social science disciplines.

Application code: 9371.

Course content

In this course, emphasis is placed on important aspects of the composition of the urban Arctic, and on how cities in the Arctic are undergoing reorganisation and change in relation to their socio-cultural and spatial characteristics. In contrast to the impression given by conventional images of the Arctic landscape, urbanisation processes in the Arctic are common and widespread. The course provides an overview of urban development in the Arctic, and research-based reflection on what urbanisation means to people in an Arctic context. Conventional urban theory is questioned, as it neglects forms of urbanisation that take place outside the global network of regional towns and cities. In this course, students will be invited to reflect more deeply on issues of Arctic urbanisation, in which the relationship between nature and culture, centre and periphery, and majority and minority cultures is challenging traditional methods and practice in physical planning. GIS will be used as an analytical tool to perform spatial analyses and mapping of urban areas that relate to changes in the urban context, as well as to economic activities and demographics.

Objectives of the course

The students have the following learning outcomes:


The student has:

  • Fundamental insight into the characteristics of Arctic cities, and a theoretically-based understanding of their specificity, similarities and differences, and the challenges they face in the development of today’s Nordic countries.
  • Knowledge of spatial representation methods through the use of GIS.
  • Knowledge of the rules that guide cartographic communication.


The student is able to / can:

  • make use of perspectives on urban life in the North, with an emphasis on the sustainability, governance and planning of Arctic cities.
  • use GIS software to carry out simple spatial analyses and produce cartographic material.
  • present and explain cartographic output to non-experts.


  • Competent use of theoretical and analytical concepts relevant to urban planning and development in an Arctic environment.

Competencies in using cartographic analysis to solve urban planning challenges in the Arctic.

Language of instruction

Language of instruction and examination is English.

Teaching methods

The course consists of ten lectures (2 x 45 minutes) and project seminars (12hours) with student presentations, including GIS exercises.


The following coursework requirements must be completed and approved in order to take the final exam:

Mandatory attendance at 75% of the lectures must be documented. Presentation of a cartographic analysis of Arctic urban challenges at a seminar. 

The exam will consist of:

A group project report, including cartographic illustrations (10-15 pages).

One home exam of one week, paper of 10 pages.

The students will obtain one final grade, where the project report and the home exam are weighted 40% and 60% respectively.

The exam will be assessed on an A-F grades scale. Grades are A-E for passed and F for failed. 

Retake is offered in in the beginning of the following semester in cases of grade F or Fail. Deferred examination is offered in the beginning of the following semester if the student is unable to take the final exam due to illness or other exceptional circumstances. Registration deadline for retake is January 15 for autumn semester exams and August 15 for spring semester exams. 


Recommended reading/syllabus

Pensumliste for SPL-3011 Arctic Cities
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: SPL-3011