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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Building Near Futures (fusion on-site) (EFIE11029)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course will develop students' agency and critical competencies in envisioning, articulating, and questioning ideas about the future. By introducing futuring frameworks, methods and tools, it will equip students to investigate future scenarios, challenges and controversies with and for society. It explores how futures methods - including creative and experiential methods - can generate insights that can be implemented in the present to effect real world change. In teams, students will create fragments of near future worlds, and work together to display those fragments in an online, near future publication or gallery.
Course description The course introduces the students to qualitative futuring frameworks, concepts and methods (e.g. Three Horizons, Experiential Futures, Design Fiction, Weak Signals, Anticipation), and to practice-based creative and experiential futures enquiry, as a part of the EFI masters core.

The course combines classroom and online teaching, interdisciplinary teamwork, experiential learning through practice-based enquiry, the production of public outputs, and reflection on those experiences. Over the duration of the course, students will have engaged actively, through seminars and group work in future-scoping and creative enquiry.

Students will apply futures methods to investigate challenge themes and datasets introduced elsewhere in the EFI shared core, and to develop future scenarios, challenges and controversies suggested by these themes/datasets. The students develop understanding of how narrative, imagery, design fictions, and other creative methods can give tangible form to abstract concepts and create fragments of future worlds. They will learn how futures methods can be applied to investigate entanglements of data, people, algorithms and situations, and to give people agency over change that is happening today.

They will be introduced to experiential learning through a public, online gallery/publication, and an alternative approach to thinking about the future as a collective exercise. The model of an online, near future gallery/publication enables the students and audience to suspend disbelief and take risks, while the challenge themes and datasets ground the futuring process in pressing issues of global relevance faced today.

Student learning experience:

Over the duration of the course, students will have engaged actively, through seminars and group work, in future-scoping and challenge definition. They will be introduced to experiential learning through a public output and associated launch event, and an alternative approach to thinking about the future as a collective exercise. The course will entail hybrid delivery (physical/online), with group-to-group interaction between co-present and remote students and through practical group work. The gallery/publication will create a shared experience and platform connecting online and hybrid participants.

An annual EFI futures gallery/publication will provide an output and stimulus for the masters course, and a focal point in the academic year for EFI more widely. This public output will signpost the challenge themes and datasets for the year, and will be a point of synthesis when the pathways meet. It will be an antenna to bring an influx of new energy, ideas, people, stimuli into the masters programme, and an imaginative way for more people and organisations to be a part of the EFI community. Taken together, each annual gallery will build a repository that is legacy for EFI. Students can look back at how the futures change over the years, and explore correlations with the present day.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - On-Site Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities.

Students should be aware that:
- Classrooms used in this course will have additional technology in place: students might not be able to sit in areas away from microphones or outside the field of view of all cameras.
- Unless the lecturer or tutor indicates otherwise you should assume the session is being recorded.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  130
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 15/01/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 2, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 5, Other Study Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 82 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 9
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course will be assessed by the following components:

1) Group Assessment (60%)

The group assessment will be an output for an online gallery/publication, that includes a creative representation of a future concept in any form/media, and an accompanying 500 word text describing the output and the process by which it was created.

2) Individual Assessment (40%)

An individual 1500-word reflection relating readings and learning on the course to the group assessment.
Feedback Formative feedback will be provided verbally by tutor and peers on foresight concepts in session 3, and on the creative output in session 5.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Engage critically with futures frameworks and methods e.g. Three Horizons (Futures literacy).
  2. Develop a future scenario, challenge or controversy prompted by a challenge theme and/or dataset (Analytic skill).
  3. Critically evaluate implications of that future concept for decision-making and action in the present. (Analytic skill).
  4. Draw on and apply relevant skills and perspectives to creatively investigate and articulate the future concept in any media and form. (Creative skill).
  5. Work, with peers from across multiple disciplines, to develop and frame an output for presentation within an EFI futures gallery or publication. (Engagement skill).
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:

Candy, S. (2014). Experiential futures. The Futurist, 48(5): 34-37.

Dunne, A. & Raby, F. (2013). Speculative Everything. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Ehn, P., Nilsson, E. M. & Topgaard, R. (2014). Introduction. In: Ehn, P., Nilsson, E. M. & Topgaard, R. (eds.). Making Futures. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 1-16.

Hemment, D. (2011). The FutureEverything Manual. FutureEverything and Cornerhouse Books, Manchester.

Hemment, D. (2020). Reordering the assemblages of the digital through art and open prototyping. In Leonardo, MIT Press, Cambridge.

Hiltunen, E. (2008). Good Sources of Weak Signals: A global study of where futurists look for weak signals. Journal of Futures Studies, 12(4), pp. 21-44.

National Intelligence Council (1997) Global Trends.

Nesta. (2013). Don't stop thinking about tomorrow: a modest defence of futurology

Nesta. (2019). Our futures: by the people, for the people.

Sharpe, B. (2013). Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope. Triarchy Press.

Shultz, W. (2012). The History of Futures in Association of Professional Futurists. The Future of Futures.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop key knowledge skills and understanding through actively trialling futuring methods which will involve analysis of readings, presentations and the production of research material (SCQF characteristic 1 and 2).

They will deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in the absence of complete or consistent data (SCQF characteristic 3).

They will develop generic and cognitive skills through the generation of responses to real world problems (SCQF characteristic 4).

Working in small interdisciplinary teams, they will develop communication, autonomy, accountability and skills in working with others (SCQF characteristics 4 and 5).
Course organiserDr Drew Hemment
Course secretaryMiss Yasmine Lewis
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