Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 20 Hours. Seminar. (10 x 2 hour seminar workshops)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:

1. demonstrate an ability to define 'science fiction' and its related genres, and to use the terminology used in this field of literary studies;

2. demonstrate basic knowledge of major social, political, and cultural issues that have motivated science fiction writing;

3. demonstrate an ability to write competently about the texts with reference to their cultural and historical contexts;

4. produce organised, coherently argued and critically informed written work;

5. engage in a coherent oral discussion of the texts.


This module aims:

1. to provide an overview of science fiction writing from 1800 to the present;

2. to develop working definitions of 'science' fiction, its related genres, and the terminology used in this field of literary studies;

3. to guide and encourage the practical application of critical / cultural theory to the interpretation and analysis of texts;

4. to familiarise students with major social, political, and cultural issues that have motivated science fiction writing over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Brief description

Why is science fiction such an integral part of popular culture today? What can its extrapolations tell us about Western culture's deepest fears and anxieties? With these questions in mind, this module explores the fantastical and imaginative world of science fiction writing from the early nineteenth century through to the late twentieth. Along the way, we will examine the emergence of science fiction in the late Romantic period, trace its development through the Victorian period where it becomes an established mode of writing, and then follow some of the directions that the genre takes over the course of the twentieth century, concluding with contemporary cyberpunk.

Throughout we will look closely at science fiction's tangled relationship with other popular genres such as Gothic and Utopian fiction. And we will analyse its treatment of recurring themes like the 'mad' scientist, intelligent machines, 'monsters' of technology/biology, and travel through time and space. Some theoretical ideas by thinkers such as Darwin, Freud, Marx, and Baudrillard will be used to frame and inform our analysis of the texts.



_Seminar 1: Introduction: Why Science Fiction?

_Seminar 2: The Artificial Human

  • Text: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)
  • Theory: Freud & 'The Uncanny'
_Seminar 3: Weird Science

  • Text: Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Short Stories (1845)
  • Theory: Freud & 'The Uncanny'
_Seminar 4: Utopia/Dystopia

  • Text: Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Coming Race (1871)
  • Theory: Darwin & Evolution
_Seminar 5: Time Travel

  • Text: H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895)
  • Theory: Darwin & Evolution
_Seminar 6: S-F Debut in Film

  • Text: Fritz Lang, Metropolis (1926)
  • Theory: Freud & 'The Uncanny'; Baudrillard & Simulation
_Seminar 7: Social Engineering

  • Text: Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)
  • Theory: Marxism & Ideology
_Seminar 8: Androids

  • Text: Philip K Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
  • Theory: Baudrillard & Simulation
_Seminars 9 & 10: Cyberpunk

  • Text: William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)
  • Theory: Baudrillard & Simulation; Marxism & Ideology


This module is at CQFW Level 6