autumn 2022
SVF-3401 Introduction to Ocean Leadership for Sustainability - 15 ECTS

Type of course

This course is eligible for students admitted to the Ocean Leadership master’s degree program. It is not available to any other category of student as a singular or elective course.  

Course content

The ocean plays a vital role in supporting life on Earth and provides humanity with a range of essential resources. However, the ability of the ocean to operate as a life-support system and continue serving various sectors is facing multiple threats, e.g., from overexploitation, pollution and climate change. These threats are being further exacerbated by global inequities and a lack of coordinated management. The Ocean Leadership program aims to strengthen participants’ strategic competences to develop integrated solutions for the sustainable conservation and use of our ocean.  

The first course of the program surveys the range of human interactions with the ocean (e.g., related to food and energy production, transport, tourism and conservation) and highlights the need to manage potential conflicts. These can be conflicts between different users and uses, and between the goals of conservation and use. The course situates the need to manage these multiple (and potentially competing) human/ocean interactions within the broader current context of escalating ecological crisis and wide-ranging digital transformations. 

To help understand and explore this landscape, the course introduces legal regimes of relevance to the conservation, management and use of marine resources and spaces. It also provides an overview of key overarching concepts (such as governance, sustainability and resilience) and integrative approaches to managing diverse ocean activities (such as integrated ocean management and marine spatial planning). Furthermore, the course places particular emphasis on the significance of the digital revolution for human/ocean interactions. This includes reviewing a range of digital platforms for ocean research, management, communication and dissemination. It also discusses important considerations for effectively engaging with these digital platforms in ocean leadership and governance.  

As the introductory course, SVF-3401 also presents the underlying approach and philosophy of the Ocean Leadership program. This includes an introduction to systems thinking (particularly interactions between social, ecological and technical systems) and an emphasis on the importance of collaboration (particularly across disciplines and sectors). Aligned with this, the course spotlights collaborative leadership theory, and includes work to build knowledge and skills related to communication, team building and perspective taking. It also provides important foundational knowledge and skills for postgraduate scholarly work, e.g., in information literacy and research ethics.

Throughout the course, participants will be expected to reflect on how the information and training presented relates to their own professional work context, and to share their knowledge and experience with the group in the collaborative peer-peer learning environment of the program.  

Objectives of the course

The candidates who complete the course are expected to have achieved the following outcomes: 



Upon completion of the course, participants will have developed: 

  • understanding of the key concepts of sustainability and resilience, including potential points of conflict between the diverse interests competing for ocean spaces and resources 
  • understanding of the meaning of governance and familiarity with basic rules and legal regimes for the conservation, management and use of marine resources, including rights and duties of states and private organizations 
  • familiarity with a range of digital platforms for ocean research, communication and dissemination, including important considerations for engaging with them effectively 
  • familiarity with key concepts and perspectives on collaborative leadership and foundations for effective communication, trust and team building 
  • awareness of different types of research methods, including the difference between multi- inter- and transdisciplinary forms of collaboration 
  • familiarity with a systems perspective, including interconnections between social, ecological and technical systems 



Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to: 

  • identify different types of knowledge relevant for understanding and addressing problems related to ocean sustainability 
  • utilize key tools to locate different sources of information, particularly theories and interpretations in fields of relevance to ocean leadership 
  • explain norms for research ethics, including requirements for the management of sensitive personal data 
  • practice active and non-judgemental forms of listening and give and take constructive feedback  
  • appreciate and explore different perspectives on complex issues 


General competence:   

Upon completion of the course, participants will have the ability to: 

  • describe the meaning, scope and importance of ocean leadership 
  • identify and employ relevant knowledge and skills from ocean leadership in assignments 
  • appreciate the challenges of communicating with different audiences/those with different backgrounds and experiment with alternative approaches 
  • articulate and adopt different theories and frameworks to analyse ethical problems 
  • explain the need for leadership, governance and innovation to advance ocean sustainability 

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

The course is taught through a combination of (face-to-face) intensive sessions in which participants come together to learn, share experiences, practice skills, and integrate knowledge across domains, and online modules on topics of relevance that can be completed by participants asynchronously in their own time and at their own pace.  

The intensive sessions run over 4.5 days, with one scheduled at the beginning of the semester and one towards the end of semester. These sessions will include keynote lectures and interactive seminars on course topics. During the first session, participants will form teams to collaboratively work on a problem-based project throughout the semester. During the second session, participants will have an opportunity to present and receive feedback on their collaborative projects. 

Between the two intensive sessions, participants will complete online modules covering relevant knowledge, concepts and perspectives across the domains of leadership and ethics, law and governance, and information and ocean technologies. They will also collaborate actively in their teams to identify, analyze and develop solutions to selected ocean challenges. The program has ambitious learning goals and will require substantial amounts of high-quality work between the two intensive sessions. Online discussion forums will therefore be scheduled to support this, providing opportunities for participants to connect, discuss online learning materials, and/or obtain feedback on assessment work in development. 

Teaching in both the intensive sessions and the online modules will engage a range of methods and materials and may include, for example, keynote lectures and interviews with renowned international experts, interactive exercises and activities, instructional videos and filmed talks, podcasts and readings, panel and roundtable discussions, and field site visits or virtual tours.  


Examination: Date: Grade scale:
Assignment 05.12.2022 14:00 (Hand in) Passed / Not Passed

Coursework requirements:

To take an examination, the student must have passed the following coursework requirements:

Pre-course questionnaire Approved – not approved
Completion of online modules Approved – not approved
Attendance at intensive sessions Approved – not approved
Attendance at online discussion session Approved – not approved
Project presentation Approved – not approved
Reflection paper Approved – not approved
UiT Exams homepage

More info about the coursework requirements

Work requirements: 

Completion of a pre-course questionnaire to map expectations, previous knowledge, and experience; completion of all online modules; attendance at both intensive sessions; attendance of at least one online discussion forum; a project presentation (prepared and delivered by the team during the second intensive session); submission of a reflection paper (written by individuals reflecting on their learning throughout the course, as well as the collaborative teamwork process and their role within it). 

More info about the assignment


As an experience-based master’s program that aims to support peer to peer learning, all participants are expected to actively engage in discussions and group work activities. 



A teamwork assignment on a topic related to collaboration for the sustainable conservation, management and use of the ocean. 

The specific topic for the assignment will be presented, and the teams determined, during the first intensive session of the course. Teams will then work together on the assignment throughout the rest of the semester.  

The specific format (style, audience etc.) for the assignment may vary to align with participants’ interests and professional contexts. The available options will be outlined and decided by the teams during the first intensive session. 

Students will be asked to sign a code of conduct related to their participation in group work and are encouraged to work together to find solutions to any problems that may arise. 

The assignment will be granted a pass or fail grade. 

Re-sit examination

Re-sit: Participants who do not pass the assessment in this course are entitled to a re-sit. The re-sit exam is held in late February or early March. The deadline to sign up in StudentWeb is January 15th. 
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 15
  • Course code: SVF-3401
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet