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Foresight and Horizon-Scanning in Policymaking

Key information

Subject area:

Public Policy, Politics & Security

Course type:

Executive Education

Credit level:


Credit value:



4 weeks

Available course dates:

To be confirmed

Course overview

All public policy involves, either implicitly or explicitly, assumptions of or visions about the future. The field of Foresight comprises all techniques used to better inform and make more “future proof” public policy, strategy and decision-making at key junctures. Foresight has long been indispensable in policy fields that require long-term financial commitments in areas such as defence procurement, pension systems, energy generation, and environmental protection. It is also being used increasingly to anticipate or imagine socio-political developments in an era marked by major surprises in domestic, international and transnational politics, ranging from the 2008 Financial Crisis to the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the rapid rise of ISIS/D’aesh.

The module is aimed at to officials with an interest in policy planning, strategy, forward-studies and horizon-scanning on socio-political and foreign policy issues where uncertainty tends to be higher. It also offers more widely applicable lessons about the limits and potential of expert knowledge within the policy-process. In introduces participants to probabilistic forecasting and scenario building as key approaches in the broader field of Foresight.

The module harnesses insights from the growing institutionalisation and professionalisation of work within government, business and NGOs related to Foresight. It will provide participants with key insights from the state of the art in academic research in this area, including how individuals and organisations may improve their thinking about the future to improve prevention, preparedness, resilience and strategy.

What does this course cover?

Week 1: How and why does foresight matter to policymaking?

The overarching question for this week is how and why does foresight matter to decision-makers in government? The ultimate aim of foresight is to make policy-making and government as a whole more “foresighted” and more “future-proof”, making it more likely that harm is avoided and opportunities are realised.

Week 2: Challenges of forecasting

In this second week we will focus on the challenges of probabilistic forecasting in governments, whether near or longer term. We will look at different forms of probabilistic forecasting, introduce and explain key terminology such as uncertainty.

Week 3: Building a competent scenario

In the final week we turn to scenario work—looking at alternative futures as an approach to foresight. We will examine how it different from probabilistic forecasting or indeed prediction, even though it may draw on some aspects of it.

What will I achieve?

Upon completion of this module, students will :

  • Have increased accuracy and relevance on their own analytical judgments about policy-relevant futures, and be able to communicate this knowledge to others.
  • Understand and employ core tools to commission foresight and horizon-scanning exercises with internal or external experts.

Who will I learn with?

Christoph Meyer

Christoph Meyer

Professor of European & International Politics

Olga Siemers

Olga Siemers

Senior Lecturer in Public Policy

Who is this for?

This short course is for mid-career professionals. Standard entry requirements are a 2:1 degree plus 3 years of relevant work experience. Applicants without a 2:1 or higher degree are welcome to apply and typically require 5+ years of relevant work experience.

How will I be assessed?

One written assignment, plus participation in webinars and discussion forums.

Our modules offer high levels of interaction with regular points of assessment and feedback. Each four week module is worth five Master's level academic credits and includes three webinars with a King's lecturer and peer group of global professionals.

What is the teaching schedule?

Format: Fully online, plus 3 x 1-hour weekly webinars

This module has been designed specifically for an online audience. It uses a range of interactive activities to support learning including discussion forums, online readings, interactive lectures videos and online tutorials.

Fees and discounts

Tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.

Further information

Module Creator

Professor Christoph Meyer, Professor of European & International Politics and Vice-Dean of Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy (2016-2020). He studied political science and sociology in Hamburg before completing an MPhil (1997) and a PhD in International Relations at the University of Cambridge in 2001.

Please note that this is only indicative information. Lecturers and course content are subject to change. Please contact us directly for the most recent information.

Course status:

Places available

Full fee £950

Express interest

Discounts available

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