Future Trends

Module description


This module will introduce you to the latest emerging trends affecting business in the 21st century, from a strategic marketing perspective. It will draw upon the work of Patrick Dixon and his investigations into the six faces of global change which include; fast, urban, tribal universal, radical and ethical, which co-incidentally, spell out the word future (Dixon 2007). We will explore concepts such as sustainability, social responsibility, the implications of changing population dynamics, globalisation, shifting power relations, emerging economies, the impact of the digital economy and tech based innovations. Students will also learn about horizon scanning and using strategic tools such as PESTEL analysis and others. You will learn about and apply theories and methodologies related to trend spotting, particularly focusing on methodologies applied in future trends forecasting used in the fields of market research, product development and scenario planning. We will examine case studies from the sectors of: fashion, health, tourism and tech. During the seminars we will explore marketing strategy and theory, which will compliment and help operationalize our investigations into future trends. On completion of this module you will be well versed in and confident in your ability to comment on: the key trends influencing business management and marketing in the twenty first century,  

Additional Information:


This module seeks to give students a broad understanding of future trends analysis and it’s practical management applications, embedding sustainability principles as the starting premise. Students of this module will learn how future trends are used by: a variety of stakeholders to meet development objectives which are sustainable in the longer term.

All of the resources for this module are available on the ELE (Exeter Learning Environment).


This module examines a variety of case studies from a wide selection of industry sectors. It is taught by an experienced, national policy maker and strategy research consultant in the field of sustainable management. The module will also draw upon the expertise of guest speakers from the commercial and policy worlds. The second summative assignment will be a practical based paper developing your applied management skills and will provide you with useful examples to discuss at interview as well as analysis and report writing skills to apply in your future careers.


This module is designed for delivery for a group of students drawn from around the world. It will draw on your experiences and those of your class peers to help inform understanding in the room about the challenges faced by all economies, governments, societies and businesses, regardless of geographical location, size and ambition. All the case studies will have an international component.

Full module specification

Module title:Future Trends
Module code:BEMM171
Module level:M
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Claire Dinan - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:


Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Module aims

By undertaking Future Trends you will gain an increased understanding of some of the major trends likely to impact upon the fields of business management and development over the coming years, in particular you will learn how organisations and companies use this intelligence to inform future strategy development and planning agendas. The aim of the module is to empower you to become more confident in your ability to engage with debates about how future strategic and operational management approaches need to change in order to adapt to the developing needs of society, the environment and economies, which are constantly affected by changes in the wider PESTEL factors influencing business, government and the third sector. By studying case studies from key sectors such as: health, social services, tech, fashion, transport and tourism, you will develop an appreciation of how certain industries and sectors are adapting their practices in order to take account of changes in the wider operating environment. You will also study some of the methodologies and techniques employed in trend analysis and forecasting, enabling you to develop greater confidence in your analytical skills. In addition, for those who have not studied marketing strategy and theory before,seminars will be run which will cover these areas in order to contextualize and operationalization future trends thinking for those planning to enter the world of business management in the twenty-first century.

By the end of this module you will have the confidence and skills set to be able to engage with: peers, industry professionals, policy makers and fellow academics in an informed manner, secure in the knowledge that you understand some of the future trends influencing society, the environment and the global economy from a future trends and foresight analysis perspective.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. critically consider the origins of the study of, definitions and underlying theories associated with future trends analysis and foresight studies
  • 2. examine a series of case study approaches to how businesses have attempted to incorporate future trends analysis and planning into their everyday management practices
  • 3. develop and design academic arguments around key future trends most likely to impact upon business and management practices in the future
  • 4. develop and design applied business reports looking at how to analyze, operationalize and strategize for the likely impacts of future trends on the challenges facing society, business and the environment on the work of an organization, government body or commercial enterprise
  • 5. assess the role of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in the design of new business and management approaches which take account of key emerging trends

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationships and ethical implications created by the interplay of Business, Society and the Environment, while thinking holistically about implementing transformative change based on using future trends research and analysis to inform development
  • 7. analyze the techniques and methodologies employed to study future trends forecasting
  • 8. critique the use of future trends analysis and it’s applications in applied contexts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. prepare and organise work both individually and in multicultural groups
  • 10. demonstrate high level research skills drawing upon a range of data sources from both academic and applied contexts
  • 11. draft and present reports and, or presentations using technology and digital literacy skills which would be acceptable in a commercial context
  • 12. utilise skills in rigorous academic analysis, argument development, design and presentation
  • 13. share ideas and experiences from different disciplines/places/cultures/generations without prejudice and preconception
  • 14. respectfully clarify your own and other’s worldviews through dialogue, and recognize that alternative frameworks exist
  • 15. reflect upon personal contributions and complete an element of your skills analysis framework* drawing on the skills and experiences gained on this module (*applicable to International Management MSc students only)

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact Hours22Lectures
Contact Hours4Seminars

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay Outline/Plan (500 words)1 page plan for paper 11-15 (excluding 4 and 11)Verbal and feedback from tutor
Group work and presentations in seminarsSeveral short case study focused group work tasks enabling team working and brain storming skills1-15Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individually produced academic paper/essay502,500 words1-15 (excluding 4 and 11)Tutor feedback
Individually produced applied paper/industry facing report502,500 words1-15Tutor feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individually produced academic paperIndividually produced academic paper (50%) 2,500 words1-15 (excluding 4 and 11)August
Individually produced applied paper/industry facing report paperIndividually applied paper/industry facing report (50%) 2,500 words1-15August

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction to future trends and foresight studies for International Management – Where are we now? How did we get here? What will the future hold? Why is it important to have an understanding of future trends?
  • How government, organisations and companies use future trends analysis for planning
  • Methodologies and techniques used to identify, analyze and report future trends
  • Strategic Marketing theory and practice (augmented by 4 supplementary seminars)
  • Fast – the growth of Digital and tech and its implications for management – looking at how Lean/Kisan and Just in time are associated with this trend
  • Urban – how people are increasingly concentrated in urban areas, the growth of mega cities and their implications, migration and it’s impact upon economies and management strategies
  • Tribal – the increasing tendency of people to identify themselves as members of certain groups, types, tribes how will this influence marketing communications, service provision and product design?
  • Universal – Globalisation or locally specific? What opportunities and challenges does this pose for management strategies and business development?
  • Radical – How radical will change need to be? How do we move from the old order to new ways of doing things? The role of innovation and chaos theories in management planning and innovative strategy design
  • Ethical – the increasing role of business ethics in designing and implementing new management strategies, which are fundamental to a sustainable future for all.
  • Guest speakers drawn from the sectors of health, public services provision, transport, tech, fashion, future trends analysis and tourism
  • How to write a consultancy report and presentation on Future Trends

Four seminars to augment the teaching delivered in the lecture series and to facilitate formative assessment and support summative assessment. To be delivered in weeks 2,4,6,8

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:  (*Denotes Core texts)

Onkvisit S and Shaw J (2009) 5th edition, International Marketing Theory and Strategy,Routledge *

 Kotler P and Armstrong G ( 2015) Principles of Marketing, Pearson, (Global Edition) *  - useful complementary online learning tool

 Thomas J. Chermack (2011) Scenario Planning in Organizations: How to Create, Use, and Assess Scenarios (Publication in the Berrett-Koehler Organizational Performance), Berrett-KoehlerPublishers, San Francisco *

 Hines, A. and Bishop P (Eds) (2007) Thinking about the Future, Guidelines for Strategic Foresight, Social Technologies LLC, Washington *Dixon, P (2007) 4th edition Futurewise – Six faces of Global Change, Profile Books, London *

 Kim E, Fiore A-M, Kim H (2013) Fashion Trends Analysis and Forecasting, Bloomsbury, London*

 Raymond M ( 2014) The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook, Laurence King Publishing, London *

 Scott-Morgan P B (2012) The Reality of our Global Future – How five unstoppable High-Tech trends will dominate our lives and transform our world,

 Singh S (2012) New Mega Trends – Implications for Our Future Lives, Palgrave Macmillan, London


Recommended Journals:


International Journal of Forecasting

International Journal of Supply Chain Management

Journal of Long Range Planning

Strategic Direction

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

http://www.globalfuturist.com/ - Consultants in Future Trends Analysis

 http://www.gapminder.org/ - Prof Hans Gossling, Consultant and Academic in analyzing data on Future Population Global Trends

 http://www.geography.org.uk/resources/gapminderandworldmapper - useful resources for global trends

 http://ggim.un.org/knowledgebase/Attachment296.aspx - United Nations paper on emerging trends in geospatial information management

 http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/manufacturing/the_future_of_manufacturing - one of several reports into the future of various sectors undertaken by McKinsey Consultants

 http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/mgi - the McKinsey Global Institute

 http://www.fintechinnovationlablondon.net/media/730274/Accenture-The-Future-of-Fintech-and-Banking-digitallydisrupted-or-reima-.pdf - Accenture report on the future of technology in Finance and Banking


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