Futures, Foresight, and Horizon Scanning

… a core topic in Analytic Methods 

Topic description

This topic covers three techniques and methodologies for improving analysis through Futures, Foresight, and Horizon Scanning.

Topic learning outcome

Upon completing this topic the student will be familiar with the broad approaches used in Futures, Foresight, and Horizon Scanning and be familiar with the concepts listed below. Detailed competencies are set out below the table.

Core concepts associated with this topic
Detailed competencies

The Policy Profession Competencies Table (based on in UK Policy Profession Standards 2019) provides the following description of the Futures, Foresight, and Horizon Scanning competency area and the specific competencies expected of Level 2 policy professionals:

“A knowledgeable and skilled policy professional considers the long-term impact and potential outcomes of policy recommendations. Understands the future prospects, opportunities and challenges in the policy area; communicates these effectively; is aware that there are a range of tools to develop futures-thinking and foresight; commissions the building of such evidence; engages with experts in the field of futures-thinking and foresight.


  • Applies a range of futures tools to explore the various possible futures in policy making.
  • Communicates the value and purpose of futures-thinking and foresight work to colleagues and teams in the Department.
  • Uses the expertise of stakeholders to provide context, and underpin the development of insights into the future to inform policy making.
  • Shows awareness of the groups inside Government (e.g. Office for Budget Responsibility, Office for National Statistics) who generate information that can inform your view of the future; makes intelligent use of their work.
  • Draws on experts from multiple disciplines and professions to broaden perspectives and better inform policy making, and develop broader perspectives.
  • Generates evidence to enhance the ability of futures thinking and foresight on policy development, through use of e.g. surveys, interviews and digital metrics.
  • Scopes and commissions high-quality analysis focused on the future, such as scenarios from internal and external partners; draws on resources for supporting evidence-based policy making.
  • Uses futures-thinking and foresight to challenge own assumptions and biases, as well as those of others.
Recommended readings for 10 hours of study


Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses 


Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 3 June 2019.

Image: Parliament UK, Horizon Scanning, at https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/offices/bicameral/post/work-programme/horizon-scanning/, at http://6sigmaconsulting.org/the-eight-elements-of-tqm/, accessed 3 June 2019.