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  understanding of how natural resources develop without and with human harvesting. A second aim is to help students develop the skills and competencies needed for proper management of water reservoirs, fisheries, animal herds, and climate, and for proper dealing with product- and quota markets. In other words, how to avoid widespread mismanagement.

For resources 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.

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 invironments (ILEs) such as simulation models, simulators, animations and games remain available for the students for future use.

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Spring and autumn

Click on this link for information about how to sign up for the MOOC

Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
The MOOC is available for anybody worldwide. As you make progress in the course you will find out if you have the needed skills to take the exam. We have made efforts to ensure that you build intuition from the very beginning. Some basic understanding of cause and effect relationships expressed by mathematical functions is helpful. The basics will be used and repeated throughout the course. Students do not need knowledge of complex mathematical method of analysis.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
To register for the exam, applicants must meet the minimum entrance requirements for higher education in Norway or they must be older than 25 years of age. To get access to the exam, students must have finished 100% of the material before the exam starts.
Teaching and learning methods

The MOOC (Massive Open Online 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 and is an important part of the teaching material. This reduces the chance that students become overconfident in material that is misperceived.

This short video gives you some more hints about what the course is about (the learning environments in the video have been updated to new and better versions):

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 decision in simulators. In Learning-by-doing sessions, students are led by questions and hints to develop understanding on 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 interactive learning environments to explore policies, including situations with uncertainty. In Applications, students make use of what they have learnt in realistic case studies, where own decisions in some cases can be compared to historical decisions. Most students tend to do much better than the 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
From 2024 spring: no exam
Grading Scale
An ECTS grade is provided to the student at the end of the course according to the A-F scale.
Assessment Semester

Spring and autumn

From spring 2024 there will be no credit giving assessment.

Reading List
All required reading material is included in the MOOC, further reading is suggested by references in the course
Course Evaluation
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.  
Course Administrator
The System Dynamics groups at the Department of Geography at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.