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Decisionmaking in emergencies

This is the study programme for 2020/2021.

This course may be useful for students who are studying/specialising in risk management, economics, change management, health studies, human rights, sustainable development or societal safety. The course is taught in such a way that English-speaking students can keep up.

Learning outcome

At the end of the course, the student will have acquired the following knowledge, skills and general competencies:
The student should:
  • Be aware of and understand how decisions are made during a crisis, at an accident site, within crisis management and with relation to staff
  • Be prepared and able to participate in crisis management/as a member of staff and also have an understanding of what affects decision-making during times of uncertainty and the consequences that different types of decisions may have in a crisis situation
  • Have knowledge about central characteristics of different crisis situations and the challenges these create for decision makers
  • Have knowledge of different phases of crisis management at a political/strategic level and how decisions are normally made
  • Have knowledge of how the media works and can influence decisions and the challenges that ensue for those managing a crisis
  • Have knowledge of how group dynamics and stress can affect decision-making

The student should have gained skills in:
  • Being able to analyse decisions in crisis situations
  • Being able to deal with information during a crisis situation
  • Consider crisis management in conjunction with responsibilities and governance

General competencies:
The student should:
  • Have general competency in relation to how a crisis develops and challenges to the decision-making process, particularly challenges and dilemmas that are encountered in crisis communication
  • Be able to give a broad overview of relevant theories that can explain how decisions are made during a crisis


The course will focus particularly on the following:
  • What crisis management is and how principles for effective crisis management can be established
  • The factors that influence the decision-making process in operative, tactical and strategic crisis management
  • How decisions are made at an accident site and during strategic crisis management
  • Team work and co-operation during crisis situations
  • The roles of traditional and new media and legitimate interests during a crisis and the resultant challenges to the decision-making process
  • Dealing with the media during a crisis situation
  • How policies influence management and how decisions work politically during a crisis situation

The course is based on a broad range of literature that highlights theories about decisions at an accident site, the relationship between crisis management and the media, and the political dimensions of crises.
In order for this course to be held this semester, at least five students must enrol.

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended previous knowledge

MSA125 Crisis management, MSA270 International humanitarian emergencies

- Knowledge of central terms such as risk, societal safety, robustness, vulnerability and uncertainty

- Knowledge of crisis and crisis management theories


Written assignment and oral exam
Weight Duration Marks Aid
Written assignment2/51 A - FAll.
Oral exam3/540 minutesA - FNone permitted
The term paper should be done as group work with a minimum of two participants. Submission in INSPERA (digital exam).
Term paper 2/5 A-F. Written exam 3/5 (5 hours) A-F
Deadline for submission of term assignment is one week after the last lecture.

Coursework requirements

Submission of articles
Everyone should write a summary of one to two articles from the reading list. A number of these can be selected for submission.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator
Riana Steen
Head of Department
Tore Markeset
Course teacher
Odd Einar Falnes Olsen

Method of work

Lectures, discussions and writing a group-based term paper.

Practical placements

The students should be able to participate in a crisis drill, or alternatively observe a crisis drill if this is feasible within the framework of the course.

Open to

The course is only open to students that have been accepted for the University of Stavanger's regular master's programme (not the UiS, EVU [Etter- og videreutdanning - further education and continuing education courses]). The course is also open to exchange students attending UiS.

Course assessment

Student evaluation of the subject will be carried out in accordance with the Faculty of Science and Technologys' evaluation system


Literatur will be published as soon as it has been prepared by the course coordinator/teacher

This is the study programme for 2020/2021.

Sist oppdatert: 09.08.2020