Our interdisciplinary postgraduate futures programmes are for those who embrace new ways of thinking and want an education that helps shape a better future, for themselves and for our world.

Study on campus, online or move between both. Study full-time, part-time or life-long. Bring your academic, professional, and life experience as you work across disciplines, dig deep into some of the world’s most complex challenges, and develop vital career skills.

What to expect at Edinburgh Futures Institute

Our approach







Flexible study

Flexible study options, fusion learning, interdisciplinary teaching, and a focus on complex global and social challenges.

You will have the space to think deeply about issues linked to your own passions and professional goals.

Our programmes are an interconnected portfolio of postgraduate study offering a shared core and unique fusion learning. Our focus is on interdisciplinary teaching and research that addresses complex global and social challenges. You will be taught by academic experts from different subject areas. And you will develop creative, critical and data-informed thinking that cuts across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

We use an approach called ‘fusion teaching’ so you have greater choice about when you study on-campus, and when you study online.

If you are considering full-time online study, please note that all courses require significant synchronous engagement in the classroom. Get in touch with us with questions before applying.

Introduction to our Fusion learning approach

Interdisciplinary means the ability to synthesise and apply knowledge and skills from across different disciplines.

It is crucial to addressing complex challenges and planetary-scale issues. It is also increasingly important to employers and future career development and supports the modern skills needed by today’s graduates.

We offer fundamentally interdisciplinary study and draw on diverse disciplines to support you to work creatively and ethically with all kinds of data. Each postgraduate programme develops interdisciplinary perspectives in the ways most appropriate to its specific focus and offers you the flexibility to design your own disciplinary pathway through your studies, and through your project-related work.

We are creating innovative ways of bringing together disciplinary expertise in response to complex problems.

Studying in a challenge-led environment means you will learn to scope, explore, understand, and work on complex, multi-stakeholder challenges for the benefit of society.

Developing insights from across disciplines and applying them to complex challenges (organisational, cultural, societal or environmental) are fundamental to your studies at the Edinburgh Futures Institute. In your final project, you will be able to apply 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. You will have support to choose and develop your final project.

Data shapes our world and increasingly underpins our lives, work and learning.

Understanding how to use data ethically, innovatively and collaboratively is essential for citizens, professionals, businesses and governments. It is also critical for employers and professionals across different sectors.

All our MSc programmes include core data skills which will help you to learn data-led decision making, data innovation and collaboration, and the fundamentals of data ethics. While supporting you to use your creative skills in the analysis and representation of data-informed and qualitative inquiry.

We’re working with organisations and professionals, from sectors like fintech, creative industries, public services and tourism to tackle challenges, improve products and services, and develop new ones through better use and understanding of data.

Ethical data and advanced data skills

Data and AI Ethics is a central and cross-cutting theme at Edinburgh Futures Institute, this is underpinned by the work of the Centre for Techomoral Futures (CTMF).

In addition to the core data skills developed through our programmes, postgraduate students also have the opportunity to explore advanced digital methods with training from the Centre for Data, Culture and Society (CDCS).

Fully embedded in our approach to teaching and learning is the art and practice of co-creation.

The outcomes of a co-creative culture are wide and varied and support trust-building, access to talent, networking, personal development and growth, and sharing ideas.

Our postgraduate programmes encourage students to exchange and explore how knowledge from multiple perspectives (civic, technical, corporate and social) can tackle the significant challenges that society faces in the present, and near futures. Our learning environment supports the flow of ideas and inspiration between learners, researchers, peers, industries and businesses and organisations.

“Connection, co-design, communities – this is a space where academics from diverse fields such as law, data science and art can unite with students, communities, charities, companies and policymakers to co-create solutions to shared problems in ways they otherwise couldn’t.”

Professor Chris Speed, Director of Edinburgh Futures Institute, Chair of Design Informatics 

Develop sought-after entrepreneurial and innovation skills and be supported to pursue new, creative ideas and take risks. 

From design thinking to new approaches to social innovation, we recognise that entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes.

With a range of support from across the University of Edinburgh, and a dynamic community of partners within the Futures Institute, we are creating collaborative environments to pursue new endeavours.

The University of Edinburgh’s enterprise service for students and recent graduates (two years post-graduation) can help you startup, sustain and develop your entrepreneurial journey for any business, social enterprise or freelance endeavour.  

Learn new skills, join the thriving enterprise community, attend events and workshops, enter a competition or programme and receive one-on-one support. The service is free and you own 100% of your IP.

Most of 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 study our 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 Edinburgh’s strong cultural organisations).

“The most interesting part of Edinburgh Futures Institute is the interdisciplinary nature of it, the collaborative nature of it, the fact that even though you’re on your programme, you’re in and among lots and lots of different students from different programmes. It’s not streamlined in the way that other postgraduate things are where you have your cohort and that’s it. As a part-time student I’m meeting people that are doing this course from China, from Chile, from South Africa, from Berlin. It’s global, and it’s that community, it is just such an amazing opportunity…”

Jo, MSc Education Futures postgraduate student

Explore our postgraduate degree programmes

MSc | PG Dip | PG Cert

Child Protection Data Futures

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Circular Economy

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Creative Industries

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Cultural Heritage Futures

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Data and Artificial Intelligence Ethics

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Data, Inequality and Society

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Education Futures

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Future Governance

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Future Infrastructure, Sustainability & Climate Change

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Narrative Futures: Art, Data and Society

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Planetary Health

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Service Management and Design

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Sustainable Lands and Cities

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“I found it fairly easy to make friends because the intensive days for the programme are a bonding experience, you’re together all day for two days straight, and you really get to dive both into the academic subject that you’re exploring, and into how people perceive these subjects, and the experiences people bring with them into this context. And I found that a really easy gateway to get to know people.”

Adelheid, MSc Narrative Futures

Other postgraduate study opportunities

MSc | PG Dip | PG Cert

Finance, Technology and Policy

This degree programme is delivered through the University of Edinburgh Business School.

Proposed new programme

We would like to hear your views on a potential new postgraduate opportunity in Applied Ethics.

Free online short course

Data Ethics, AI and Responsible Innovation

Taught by leading experts in data science, AI, information law, science and technology studies, and responsible research and innovation.

Edinburgh Futures Institute aims to offer opportunities to study postgraduate courses on a “lifelong learning” basis without signing up to study to a full award. Students will be able to take a course on a one-off basis, or take multiple courses over an extended period of time, and count them toward our Interdisciplinary Futures Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and MSc.

Unfortunately we will be unable to offer any courses on this basis in 2024-25. Please get in touch with us if you would like to be kept informed and consider applying for courses from 2025-26.

We also offer a range of courses through our Executive Education provision. These are short courses and are usually linked to a professional field or practice. Find out more about current courses or get in touch for bespoke training provision. 

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