Path to the Horizon

Explore a variety of approaches to futures research and using your chosen approach, work collaboratively to produce an almanac of the future

Module details

  • Offered to 3rd & 4th Years
  • Thursdays 16.00-18.00
  • South Kensington Campus 
  • 2 term module worth 7.5 ECTS
  • Extra Credit or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

What is the future? Is it something that can be predicted, planned for or even created? How much control do we have over the future? Can we mitigate potential problems of the future?

This Creative Futures module allows you to explore approaches to the future. You will be asked to look for evidence of a range of emerging technologies, shifts in social and cultural practices and trends in local and global policy to imagine our future world or worlds. The fusion of man and machine, programmable matter, the colonisation of space and global power shifts are all signals of what we might be facing in the future. They will impact the way in which we deal with today’s global challenges, such as climate change, inequality and new connectivity.

Working in teams, you will have the opportunity to test qualitative futures methods and generate your own visions of the future. Towards the end of the module, we will bring all our work together and collaborate to produce a printed almanac of the future, with students generating their own copy, design and illustrations and forming their own editorial team to get the manuscript to print.

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

groupworkOn successful completion of the module you will be better able to:

  • Identify and use a range of methods relevant to a particular topic for futures research
  • Evaluate relevant sources and theories relating to our concept of the future or futures
  • Use an appropriate method to perform an analysis of a potential future phenomenon
  • Explore potential responses to that phenomenon and create a series of potential future visions
  • Create a futures narrative that is designed to promote a particular response
  • Work collaboratively to produce a coherent printed record of the collected futures explored by the whole class

Indicative core content

team discussion

  • Exploration of futures research tools and methods such as horizon scanning, causal layered analysis, impact analysis, drivers mapping and visioning
  • Testing various methods to produce a series of creative future forecasts
  • Developing a range of potential responses to such futures and planning for the creation of a sustainable future
  • Sharing individual future narratives in teams to create an expansive vision of a range of futures-based phenomena
  • Working collaboratively to produce a printed ‘almanac’ - including editing, peer review, layout and design

 

Assessment

  • Written: online Futures Knowledge Base documenting:-

(i) Evaluation of Futures research tools (10%) 
(ii) Source analysis for Horizon Scanning (10%)
(iii) Futures research plans, utilising Futures research tools (10%)

  • Written:  Futures Narrative (40%)
  • Practical: Response to a Narrative (10%)
  • Practical: Contribution to production of the Futures Almanac (20%)

Key information

  • You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 85 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes preparation for classes and assignments, wider reading and guided research relevant to the module.  
  • Sufficient time will be set aside for all assessments to be completed in-class.
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 6 course. See Imperial Horizons level descriptors [pdf]

My Journey

In the 2018-19 academic, the class collaborated to make an Almanac of the Future 2050 from start to finish.

Almanac of the Future 2050 (pdf).

"“The freedom within the module was very enjoyable and there was good guidance and exposure to a variety of techniques too.”"
"“Working as a whole class to produce a single piece of work was a unique experience and I am really proud of what we have created.”"