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Learning at the Edinburgh Futures Institute


Our programmes form an interconnected portfolio of postgraduate study. Our focus is on interdisciplinary teaching, learning and research that addresses complex global and social challenges. Our programmes are all taught by academic experts from different subject areas, and as an EFI student you will develop creative, critical and data-informed thinking that cuts across traditional disciplinary boundaries. You will have the space to think deeply about issues linked to your own passions and professional goals, and to develop a project based on an issue that you care about.

Explore some of the ways that our approach is unique and what you can expect from an Edinburgh Futures Institute programme of your choice.


Flexible study choices

Our programmes offer a lot of flexibility in how you choose to study. You can study on a full-time basis over one year, or part-time over two or three years. You can register for a full MSc, or for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate. You can take these programmes either online or on-campus, or combine on-campus with online study (though please note that the MSc Creative Industries programme is full-time and on-campus only so it can benefit from the city’s strong cultural organisations).

We also offer students the opportunity to study individual courses on a lifelong learning basis without signing up to study to a full award.

More about lifelong learning

Fusion learning
Photo: Ross Fraser McLean, Studio RoRo

We use an approach called ‘fusion teaching’. This makes it possible for you to have greater choice about when you study on-campus, and when you study online – you can choose at the level of each individual course which mode you prefer. Fully online and fully on-campus study is also possible. (Please note that students on study visas, and students on the MSc Creative Industries, need to be based entirely on-campus.)

The EFI approach to teaching places student experience and choice at its heart and connects global cohorts in new ways. Students will study in teaching spaces and digital learning environments designed to enable on-site/online sharing of all teaching and learning activity. Your classes and contributions will be recorded and livestreamed so that they can be shared – and learning communities built – across modes and time-zones.

Apart from the shared core courses, most EFI postgraduate courses are delivered in intensive two-day blocks of teaching and learning activity, combined with pre- and post-intensive wraparound activity that will include a range of scheduled and self-directed activities (for example, group project activities, reading, assessment).

For more detailed information about studying one of our postgraduate programmes please select one of the six programmes to find out more.

Study with us

Where will on-site teaching take place?

In 2022-23, most on-site teaching for our postgraduate programmes will take place in dedicated teaching spaces in the Lister Learning and Teaching Centre, and 11-13 South College Street. The University has equipped these spaces with cutting-edge technologies that are purpose-designed to support our fusion teaching model. Located in heart of the University’s central campus, they are close to a range of student services, along with many cafes, shops and other amenities.

Virtual Visit: Lister Centre

What our students say
We piloted fusion teaching with about 150 students across twelve postgraduate modules in 2021-22. Feedback is very positive, with students commenting on how the intensive format offers new and exciting approaches to learning, and how on-site and online students feel like a single cohort.

“This remains the best course by design and course content I have taken… I loved the hackathon (intensive) nature of it and the live support available to students. I did the course online, but I felt like I was physically present on campus because I could interact with my team members, tutors, and course instructor real-time.”

Ayebilla, student on pilot Data Science for Society course

“I can’t recommend this course highly enough. It has encouraged me to look at my teaching practice and also the strategic direction of my faculty. The teaching and support was excellent. I was worried about doing the course totally online but it was a great experience.”

Student on pilot Future of Learning Organisations course

The student experience
Here at the Edinburgh Futures Institute you will be part of a dynamic and diverse community, whether you choose to study on campus or online.

The events and activities that form part of your programme will be available both to online and on-site students, starting with welcome activities that will include a mixture of introductory events and social activities.

You will be able to participate in the Edinburgh Future’s Institutes rich array of events, including the global Edinburgh Futures Conversations series which has featured notable speakers like Gordon Brown, Chinelo Anohu, Chelsea Clinton, Professor Sheila Tlou and Doctors Antony Fauci and Nanshan Zhong. Many of the Edinburgh Futures Institute events and series are open to online and on-site students. Our Futures Lecture events, and the Controversies in the Data Society seminar series are among those that are delivered online.

Edinburgh Futures ConversationsFutures LecturesControversies in the Data SocietyAll EFI events

Whether you study on-site or online, you will also have access to a wide range of University study support services, such as the University’s extensive library collections, and its careers and student counselling services.

On-site studyOnline learning

What does interdisciplinary study mean?

Interdisciplinary study is at the heart of our approach and ethos. It means the ability to synthesise and apply knowledge and skills from across different disciplines, and is crucial to addressing many current complex challenges and planetary-scale issues.

Our shared core courses are fundamentally interdisciplinary, drawing on diverse disciplines to support you to work creatively and ethically with all kinds of data. In addition, each programme develops interdisciplinary perspectives in the ways most appropriate to their specific domain and focus. And finally – because you have such wide choice in the optional courses you choose to take – you will have the flexibility to design your own disciplinary pathway through your studies, integrating your insights and reflecting on their interdisciplinary power through your project-related work.

Core and optional courses
In addition to the core courses you must take towards your chosen programme, we offer a portfolio of ‘shared core’ courses which all Edinburgh Futures Institute postgraduate students must take. These cover the essential and hands-on data skills, enquiry methods, ethical and creative capacities needed to underpin your programme-based studies.

These courses place you in cross-disciplinary teams with students from other programme areas, supporting you to understand what it means to approach knowledge from multiple perspectives, and use it to address complex challenges. They will teach you to collect, manage and analyse computational datasets, and to use emerging methodologies for mapping and ‘designing’ the future. They will also teach the fundamentals of data ethics, supporting you to develop a mature data philosophy while using your creative skills in the analysis and representation of data-informed and qualitative inquiry.

All programmes allow students to choose from a range of programme-specific optional courses, and from a wider portfolio of our optional courses.

The project
Developing insights from across disciplines and applying them to complex challenges (organisational, cultural, societal or planetary) are fundamental to the aims of the Edinburgh Futures Institute. In your final project, you will be able to contribute to this agenda by applying your learning in depth to a domain, issue or concern that you care about.

For most programmes you can choose to define your own project, bring a project your employer would like you to address, work on a project set by one of our external partners or align your project to one of our research programmes.

Core EFI Our Postgraduate Futures Programmes 2022

Creative Industries

Work directly with the world-class creative and cultural industries in Edinburgh, as you bring together cross-disciplinary expertise in data analytics, creative thinking, business and law to understand and address the complex challenges faced by this vital sector.
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Core EFI Our Postgraduate Futures Programmes 2022

Data, Inequality and Society

Work with sector experts and leading researchers as you learn to build more equitable, inclusive societies. Bring advanced, cross-disciplinary knowledge to the most pressing global challenges of our time.
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Core EFI Our Postgraduate Futures Programmes 2022

Education Futures

Understand and build new, vital educational possibilities for the future by bringing together research-led, cross-disciplinary and data-driven approaches to educational knowledge, organisations, spaces and relationships.
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Core EFI Our Postgraduate Futures Programmes 2022

Future Governance

Explore and analyse the challenges and opportunities that big data brings to the future of democracy. Develop leading-edge knowledge to help shape the world – and your career – by driving positive change.
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Core EFI Our Postgraduate Futures Programmes 2022

Narrative Futures: Art, Data, Society

Combine hands-on creative and data skills with critical, interdisciplinary enquiry to study the way narratives frame our understanding of the world and shape our planetary futures.
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Core EFI Our Postgraduate Futures Programmes 2022

Service Management and Design

Bring the fields of service management and service design together to develop your understanding of a sector vital to the future of our economies and societies. Develop the critical, creative and data skills essential to career success within private and public service sectors including finance, retail, health, social care and more.
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