Natural Resources Management

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

While there exists much relevant knowledge about natural resources, they are frequently mismanaged, often with dramatic consequences for those involved. One aim of the course is to build solid intuitive understanding of the theories and principles underlying natural resources. A second aim is to help students develop the skills and competencies needed for proper management of for instance water reservoirs, fisheries, forests, animal herds, and climate, and to operate in product and quota markets.

For resource management, central topics are system descriptions, dynamics, economics, uncertainty and policy design. For management of commons problems, central topics are competitive games, regulation, and market-based institutions.

The course utilizes a number of new online teaching tools to help students develop deep understanding. Study at your own speed, answer questions, solve problems, and watch videos. To build deep knowledge and to develop skills, students have to finish each and every task to make progress. Immediate feedback helps to correct your understanding step by step. This reduces the chance that students become overconfident in the material that is misperceived.

This short video gives you some more hints about what the course is about (note that some of the learning environments in the video are outdated and have been replaced by new and better version):

Learning Outcomes

Express knowledge and understanding

Students know about cause and effect relationships of importance for resource management and are able to express this knowledge in 'stock and flow diagrams'. They understand how cause and effect give rise to developments over time such as equilibrium, growth, goal seeking, cycles, and overshoots. They understand the basics of markets for products and quotas.

Apply knowledge and understanding

Students are able to apply knowledge and understanding to manage natural resources and to operate in markets for products and quotas.

Make judgements

Students know how to distinguish between resources and their specific needs for policies or management strategies. They know about implementation problems and the need to consider second-best solutions.


Students are aware of likely misperceptions. They can use analogies, narratives, and illuminating historical data to communicate. Based on their own experience with challenging management tasks, they understand the need for proper simplification.

Develop learning skills

In particular, students develop learning skills to deal with dynamic problems. They know and can apply concepts such as stocks and flows, nonlinearity, feedback, delays, and policy in new situations. After the course, interactive learning environments such as simulation models, simulators, animations, and games remain available for the students for future use.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Spring and Autumn

Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Access to the Course
The course is open to graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Bergen.
Teaching and learning methods

The course is organized in six chapters, four concerning resource management and two dealing with markets and policies to deal with commons problems. Each chapter has three main parts: Challenges, Learning-by-doing, and Applications.

In Challenges, students either answer questions or make a decision in simulators or multi-player games. In Learning-by-doing sessions, students are led by questions and hints to develop an understanding of their own. Answers prompt immediate feedback. Debriefing videos summarize and generalize what has been learnt. Early chapters make extensive use of animated analogies to build experience/intuition before using formal simulation models. Later chapters rely on simulation models and an interactive tool to explore policies under uncertainty. In Applications, students make use of what they have learnt in realistic case studies, where their own decisions may be compared to historical decisions. Most students tend to do much better than historical managers.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Students must go through the entire course and finish all tasks in order to get access to the exam.
Forms of Assessment

3 hours online exam.

The exam assignment will be given in the language of instruction in the course.

The exam answer must be submitted in the same language as the exam assignment.

Grading Scale
Assessment Semester
Spring and autumn
Reading List
The course contains all the information needed
Course Evaluation
An evaluation form is built into the online course.
Programme Committee
The System Dynamics Group, Department of Geography, is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the M.Phil program in system dynamics, including GEO-SD330.
Course Administrator
The Department of Geography at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course