All teaching in polar law is conducted in English

Polar law describes the legal regimes, rules, and processes applicable to the Arctic and the Antarctic. It is interdisciplinary, placing emphasis on relevant areas of public international law and social sciences. Subject areas include: international law, including the law of the sea and environmental law; the laws of and the laws protecting Indigenous Peoples and other residents of the Arctic; Arctic human development; governance (international, national, local, and Indigenous); and economies, industries, and business in polar regions. 

Programmes in Polar Law are open for applications every other year.

Three programmes are offered:

Is Polar Law for you?

  • Are you interested in the legal regimes for the polar regions?
  • Are you interested in the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other inhabitants of the Arctic?
  • Do you want to know more about environmental protection in the polar regions?
  • Do you want to learn about management of resources in the Arctic and Antarctic?
  • Do you have good written and spoken English language skills?
  • Do you want to hone your academic research skills?
  • Would you like to study in an international environment?

Emphases in the programmes

UNAK’s Polar law programmes examine the ways in which Peoples, environment and resources are governed in the Arctic and the Antarctic. They consider the State-based system in the Arctic in contrast to the treaty-based system for the Antarctic continent. The programmes examine how tensions are kept to a minimum through the application of the rule of law and strong cooperation between States, Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, International Organisations and other participants.

Students learn about the international legal frameworks, including the law of the sea, environmental law and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. They are also introduced to Peoples of the Arctic, principles of economic development and good governance.

You can view the organisation of the studies in Ugla, the intraweb of the University.

On completion of studies

Studies in Polar Law prepare students for work in the public and private sectors, for example, government departments, international organisations, the NGO sector, with Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic, and with universities and research institutions.

The Master’s programmes (LLM and MA) also constitute good preparation for doctoral studies or further research on Polar law and related fields.

Admission requirements

Students must have successfully completed a minimum 3-year university degree corresponding to the Bologna Process first cycle (180 ECTS). 

Here you can find information on residence permits for students.

How to apply?

Programmes in Polar Law are open for applications every other year through our online application portal.  

Please note that applicants who are not from the EEA require a study permit from the Directorate of Immigration and keep in mind the time necessary to gather the necessary documentation as well as the Directorate’s estimated processing times. The University of Akureyri is not responsible for any decisions or delays at the Directorate. Applicants who are not EEA nationals are required to pay a 50 Euro processing fee. The fee is non-refundable. 

The next round of applications will be in Spring 2025 for a Fall 2025 start. The application deadline for all Polar law applications is 1st April 2025. 


The quality of the programme and the mix of courses gives a well-rounded understanding of both legal and economic principles. The teachers were exceptionally good and I was impressed that the professors were active in legal fields in the Polar Regions.

Sune Tamm
Project Developer at Arctic Trucks

Every course was relevant and helped me study the Polar Regions comprehensively and thoroughly and they all were highly relevant regarding contemporary Arctic and Antarctic legal issues. The quality of the teaching was exemplary

Romain Francois R. Chuffart
Doctoral candidate at University of Lapland

The university’s program of Polar Law, could not be better suited to equip and enable people to address genuine issues that are happening in today's circumpolar north. The University of Akureyri is offering a program unparalleled by any other. The professors are specialists in their fields and have assembled here to share their knowledge in a masterful scheme unfolding in intensive, efficient, short duration classes.

It has been a real privilege to have the opportunity to attend the Polar Law Program at the University of Akureyri.

Liza Petenuzzo
MA Polar Law candidate, 2nd year