Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code ENGL739
Coordinator Dr WG Slocombe
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2018-19 Level 7 FHEQ First Semester 15


The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the critical debates within and about the field of Science Fiction. Over the module, Science Fiction texts and cinematic adaptations will be compared to analyse the potentialities and limitations of each medium, alongside an exploration of a broad gamut of its sub-genres, side-genres, and modes, from scientific romance to the New Weird. The module compares “mainstream” Science Fiction texts (including short stories) with selected texts which might be said to explore comparable imaginative territory, or to be conducting similar experiments with language, narrative, and the mythologies of scientific progress and decline. In so doing, this module attempts to address a most basic question as directly as possible: what does Science Fiction do that other kinds of fiction doesn’t, or can’t?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate a systematic understanding of the ways in which science fiction has been defined, historically and conceptually.

Analyse and evaluate the ways in which texts can connect with each other to comprise a body of knowledge and field of study.

Demonstrate advanced skills in textual analysis of a range of science fiction works with detailed attention to questions of genre, form, content, and narrative structure.

Critically engage with academic research and/or theoretical discourses, and relate these to specific science fiction texts.

Present their knowledge in a format appropriate to advanced academic study, and suitable for different audiences.


Texts can vary year by year, but the module comprises a mix of fiction, film, and criticism. Illustrative authors and critics studied include: Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Darko Suvin, Hal Duncan, Justina Robson, China Miéville, and John Clute.

A Planet called Science Fiction
  • Week 1: Science Fiction before Science Fict ion: Scientific Romance & Utopias
  • Week 2: Amazing Stories? The Golden Age of SF
  • Week 3: The New Wave
  • Week 4: Cyber- and other punks
Travels in Genre Space
  • Week 5: Technology, Magic, and Clarke’s Third Law
  • Week 6: Suvin—The Novum and Cognitive Estrangement
  • Week 7: [reading week]
  • Week 8: Space Opera, Hard sf, and Other Sub-genres
Re-Drawing the Genre Map
  • Week 9: Fantastika, Transrealism, Slipstream, and The New Weird
  • Week 10: Plausible Meanings of “SF”—Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, and 
  • Strange Fiction
  • Week 11: SF across Genres
  • Week 12: The Future(s) of SF? Purity, Popularity, and Politics

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Seminar -

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours   12

Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 138


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Coursework  1,500 words  Semester 1 Week 7-8  40  Yes  Standard UoL penalty applies  1,500-word encyclopaedia entry, due in wk 9  
Coursework  3,500 words  End of Semester 1  60  Yes  Standard UoL penalty applies  3,500-word essay, Notes (applying to all assessments) - none 

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.
Explanation of Reading List: