This paper presents the results of an investigation into the processes controlling development of a cryo-conditioned rock coast system in Hornsund, Svalbard. A suite of nested geomorphological and geophysical methods have been applied to characterise the functioning of rock cliffs and shore platforms influenced by lithological control and geomorphic processes driven by polar coast environments. Electrical resistivity tomosgraphy (ERT) surveys have been used to investigate permafrost control on rock coast dynamics and reveal the strong interaction with marine processes in High Arctic coastal settings. Schmidt hammer rock tests, demonstrated strong spatial control on the degree of rock weathering (rock strength) along High Arctic rock coasts. Elevation controlled geomorphic zones are identified and linked to distinct processes and mechanisms, transitioning from peak hardness values at the ice foot through the wave and storm dominated scour zones to the lowest values on the cliff tops, where the effects of periglacial weathering dominate. Observations of rock surface change using a traversing micro-erosion meter (TMEM) indicate that significant changes in erosion rates occur at the junction between the shore platform and the cliff toe, where rock erosion is facilitated by frequent wetting and drying and operation of nivation and sea ice processes (formation and melting of snow patches and icefoot complexes). The results are synthesised to propose a new conceptual model of High Arctic rock coast systems, with the aim of contributing towards a unifying concept of cold region landscape evolution and providing direction for future research regarding the state of polar rock coasts.