Decisionmaking in Emergencies (SAM530)

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.

Course description for study year 2024-2025. Please note that changes may occur.


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


Exam semester


Language of instruction

English, Norwegian


NB! This is an elective course and may be cancelled if fewer than 10 students are enrolled by August 20th for the autumn semester.

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.

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

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

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

- Knowledge of crisis and crisis management theories


Ongoing assessment

Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Written assignment 2/5 1 Semesters Letter grades
Oral exam 3/5 40 Minutes Letter grades None permitted

The term paper should be done as group work with a minimum of two participants. Submission in INSPERA (digital exam). Deadline for submission of term assignment is one week after the last lecture.No re-sit opportunities are offered for semester assignments. Students who wish to retake this part may do so the next time the course is held.Assessment of the oral exam is done individually.

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

Method of work

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


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.

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
Decisionmaking in emergencies (MSA280_1) 10

Open for

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.
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.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course supervisor, the student union representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital subject evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


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