autumn 2024
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 Leadership program aims to strengthen participants’ competences to develop integrated solutions for the sustainable conservation and use of the ocean.

The first course of the program provides an overview of the key framing concept of sustainability together with the wide range of human interactions with the ocean (e.g., food and energy production, transport, tourism, and conservation). Highlighting the need to manage potential conflicts (e.g., between different users and uses, and between the goals of conservation and use) and the importance of coordinated management, the course introduces legal regimes of relevance, as well as key approaches for integrative ocean governance (such as integrated ocean management and marine spatial planning). Situating the multiplicity of human/ocean interactions within the broader context of wide-ranging digital transformations, the course also reviews digital tools and platforms available to support coordinated ocean research and management.

As the introductory course, SVF-3401 takes time to establish 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 presencing, effective communication, and team building. 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 consider 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 concept of sustainability and the importance of systems perspectives
  • understanding of the term governance and familiarity with basic rules and legal regimes for the management and use of marine resources
  • awareness of ocean digitalization and digital tools and platforms available for ocean management
  • awareness of diverse interests in ocean resources and the potential for conflicts between them
  • familiarity with key concepts and practices of collaborative leadership


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

  • utilize tools to locate different sources of information relevant to ocean leadership
  • accurately cite sources of information and engage in critical reflection
  • identify different stakeholders and types of knowledge relevant for understanding and addressing problems related to ocean sustainability
  • work in diverse teams to analyse ocean sustainability challenges and propose creative recommendations
  • facilitate teamwork through being able to become present and attentive, practice non-judgemental forms of listening, and give and take constructive feedback

General competence: 

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

  • describe important challenges linked to ocean sustainability and the need for leadership, governance, and innovation
  • appreciate and explore different perspectives on complex issues
  • recognise the value of working with diverse stakeholders and types of knowledge
  • employ relevant knowledge and skills of ocean leadership in practical/concrete assignments
  • reflect on their own leadership journey, approaches, and experiences

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

The course is taught through a combination of face-to-face "intensives" - in which participants come together to learn, share experiences, practice skills, and integrate knowledge - and online modules 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 include lectures on diverse topics from faculty and invited international experts, as well as interactive discussions and seminars on the course topics. During the first intensive of the semester, participants will also form teams to collaboratively work on a problem-based project throughout the semester. During the second intensive session of the semester, participants will have an opportunity to present and receive feedback on their collaborative projects.

Between the two intensive sessions, participants will complete a range of online modules focused on key course themes such as sustainability, leadership, law and governance, digital technologies, and research skills. They will also collaborate actively in their teams to understand, analyze and develop recommendations on their selected ocean sustainability challenge.

The program has ambitious learning goals and will require substantial amounts of high-quality work between the two intensive sessions. Online virtual meetups are therefore also scheduled approximately once a month to support this. These virtual meetups provide opportunities for participants to connect, discuss online materials, and/or obtain feedback on their assessment work in progress.

The teaching in the course draws on a range of methods and materials, including lectures, panel discussions, interactive exercises, instructional videos, short films, podcasts, discussion fora, reflective practice, and readings.



Examination: Date: Grade scale:
Assignment 17.12.2024 14:00 (Hand in) A–E, fail F

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 virtual meetup 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 (on expectations, existing knowledge, and objectives)
  • Completion of all online modules (demonstrated through submission of module assignments)
  • Attendance at both intensive sessions (in person)
  • Attendance at (at least) one virtual meetup session
  • Submission of a final reflection paper (written responses to questions on the participant’s experiences and learning throughout the course).

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 groupwork written exam on a real-world challenge linked to sustainable conservation, management, and use of the ocean.

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

Students will be asked to sign a code of conduct related to their participation in the groupwork and are encouraged to work together to develop their own specific version of this agreement, as well as to find solutions to any problems that may arise within the group throughout the semester.

The exam will be granted a pass or fail grade.

Re-sit examination

Re-sit: Participants who do not pass the exam in this course are entitled to a re-sit.
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 15
  • Course code: SVF-3401
  • Earlier years and semesters for this topic