Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Speculative Fiction and the Climate Crisis
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Assignment 1  Critical Essay 5000 Words  100%
Supplementary Assessment Assignment 1  Critical Essay 5000 Words  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate a critical understanding of the distinctive thematic concerns that characterise contemporary speculative writing in an era of climate crisis.

Discuss critically the main theories and debates concerning the climate crisis and environmental justice in relation to texts studied for the module.

Analyse and evaluate such texts in terms of how they seek to respond to the political, historical, and social context of the climate crisis.

Examine the ways in which issues of class, gender, and/or race intersect with environmental concerns in contemporary speculative writing.

Write about speculative texts in a critically-focused and well-structured manner.

Brief description

This module introduces participants to a range of Science Fiction and Fantasy texts which not only respond to the worst of our contemporary climate fears but also explore the far-reaching implications of such changes (in both time and space) and propose a series of innovative solutions. Discussion will focus on SF/F’s ability to represent the present in allegorical form, thus analysis of alternate futures, biological mutations, and forays into the outer Solar System will be grounded in the context of our contemporary moment. The purpose of this is to reveal how Science Fiction and Fantasy are essential genres offering deeply human perspectives on the challenges of the global climate crisis, modes of discourse which highlight critical issues of community, equity, political economy, vulnerability, and environmental justice. Texts studied will stress the emotional, cultural, and embodied (sometimes literally!) experiences of our changing climate in a lively seminar-format module which will challenge participants to reflect on their readings, feelings, and viewpoints.


Week 1: How to Solve a Problem like a Planet

Extract from Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (2013).

Extract from Chris Pak, Terraforming: Ecopolitical Transformations and Environmentalism in Science Fiction (2016).

Part I: Earth Abides…

Week 2: “All That You Touch, You Change…”
Octavia E. Butler, The Parable of the Sower (1993).

Week 3: A World Without Water
JG Ballard, The Drought (1965).

Week 4: Postcolonial Biology
Neil Jordan, The Dream of a Beast (1983).

Week 5: “10,000 Engines to Propel a Planet Through Space…”
Liu Cixin, ‘The Wandering Earth’ (2000).

Part II: Water Always Wins…

Week 6: Snowball Earth
Maggie Gee, The Ice People (1998).

Week 7: “The Tyranny of Sunk Costs”
Kim Stanley Robinson, New York 2140 (2017).

Week 8: “Escalation of Commitment”
Kim Stanley Robinson, New York 2140 (2017).

Week 9: Oceanic Afrofuturism
Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon (2014).

Week 10: Revision and Assessment Advice

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Adaptability and resilience This will be discussed during the course and is implicitly embedded in the assessed work and in the feedback of course tutor and peers.
Co-ordinating with others Students will have the opportunity to work in small group discussions during seminars.
Creative Problem Solving Employing the skills of critical engagement and analysis of structure and genre will arise and be dealt with during seminars and in assessment. The effectiveness by which the student has solved problems is evident in the planning of and quality of the finished work.
Critical and analytical thinking The assessment on this module will reflect the student’s ability to read widely and to engage with speculative literature with a critical eye. They will apply this knowledge to Independent and directed research for seminar preparation and work towards summative assessment .
Digital capability Student will be required to make full use of library facilities and master online/digital research.
Professional communication Written communication skills are key to the work students will do on this module. Moreover, oral interaction in group discussion will be essential to the seminars.
Reflection Students will be expected to improve their understanding of climate crisis and environmental themes in speculative literature in response to discussion with the tutor and other students, as well as to develop their own approaches to the criticism of said literature.
Subject Specific Skills Practical proficiency in the specific skills of writing literary analysis and criticism, which will prepare students for their dissertations and postgraduate work .


This module is at CQFW Level 6