Because of outstanding outcrops, Spitsbergen (Svalbard archipelago) provides unique opportunities to investigate the whole Upper Palaeozoic succession in great detail. This study can help to interpret the stratigraphic history and depositional evolution at other locations exposing coeval shelf strata along the northern margin of Pangea, e.g., the southern Barents Sea and Arctic Canada. Bed-scale outcrop observations are combined with microfacies studies to interpret the sedimentary settings and depositional environment of the Upper Palaeozoic strata. A sequencestratigraphic analysis has been carried out to evaluate the relative timing of sediment facies deposition in response to sea-level changes. The Early Artinskian to Kazanian successions of the Templet Member and the Kapp Starostin Formation were divided into five parasequences that are superimposed on a long-term, second-order, sea-level fall. These parasequences record a fundamental change of the sedimentary setting, from a restricted-marine, warm-water carbonate platform to an open-marine, cold-water, biosiliceous-carbonate ramp system. A cross-section across Svalbard comprising nine onshore sections shows that during deposition of the Kapp Starostin Formation a major depocentre marked by thick parasequences and a higher proportion of deep-water facies (bedded cherts) is located in the southwest of Spitsbergen (at Akseløya), whereas northeastern Svalbard records shallow-water microfacies. Svalbard was tectonically passive during the Permian; the local differences in accommodation space and facies were most likely linked to the rejuvenation of pre-existing structural elements, inherited from the Carboniferous. A deepening of the depositional environment combined with cold-water climatic conditions as recorded in our study area has also been documented in other Upper Palaeozoic successions around the Arctic, such as the Finnmark Platform (Norwegian Barents Sea) and the Sverdrup Basin (Arctic Canada). This transition in the depositional environment along the northern margin of Pangea is the result of large-scale changes in oceanic circulation patterns and local palaeogeographic changes during the northward movement of Pangea.