SCIENCE FICTION - 2024/5

Module code: ELI2038

Module Overview

This module explores the meanings and developments of science fiction throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as focusing on the relationship between this innovative form and the cultural, political, ethical and ecological sustainability issues addressed in the texts. Discussion and analysis will focus not only on what worlds or peoples are imagined in science fiction and why, but also on how such core features of science fiction have been developed, challenged and reconfigured by various political and historical movements and events (such as the cold war, feminism, black civil rights movements, gay liberation, imperial endeavours, global warming and other ecological sustainability narratives, among others). The module will give particular attention to technological developments and their relationship to the human, addressing the ways in which the human is rethought and reimagined through its interaction with technological innovation. Themes that will be addressed may include alternative futurisms, artificial intelligence, body modifications, alien species and/or worlds, dystopian and utopian imaginaries, future technologies, technology and sustainability, technology and identity and struggles for freedom. Science fiction will therefore be engaged with through the lens of contemporary theories (such as postcolonialism, gender studies, ecocriticism and posthumanism), as well as with attention to changing interpretations of the meaning of the genre in its diverse socio-political and global cultural contexts. 

This module connects to other contemporary literature modules on the programme in your second year and is part of the contemporary literature route that students can choose as a focus of their degree, which includes module in the first and final years of the degree. As a hybrid creative writing and English literature module, it also makes up part of the creative writing pathway in the degree, connecting to creative writing modules in the 1st, 2nd and final years.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

MOONEY Stephen (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 78

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 39

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None.  

Module content

Indicative content that may be studied on this module includes:

Science Fiction History and Core Concepts 

Encounters with Otherness 

Dystopian Imaginaries 

Afrofuturism 

Alternative Kinship & Community 

Queer Bodies & Feminism 

Technological Promises/Fears 

Cyberpunk 

Sinofuturism 

Arabic SF 

Essay Preparation 

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY (2500 WORDS) or CREATIVE WRITING PORTFOLIO (2000 WORDS OR EQUIVALENT) PLUS SELF-REFLECTIVE COMMENTARY (500 WORDS) 100

Alternative Assessment

N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the module learning outcomes.

Seminar discussion with ongoing tutor feedback is designed mainly to assess transferable skills in working as part of a group and practical/professional skills in expressing ideas and critical analysis in oral communication. It also assesses subject knowledge in the different forms of critical theory used in English literature and cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking and in using theory in the close reading of literary texts.

The essay assesses subject knowledge in the different forms of critical theory used in contemporary literary analysis of Science Fiction and other Speculative Fiction forms, together with the historical, social, cultural and intellectual contexts of this writing, such as sustainability and global and cultural capability. The essay also assesses cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking, and transferable skills in communicating ideas in writing. It also assesses practical/professional skills in expressing ideas and critical analysis in written communication and transferable skills in working independently.

The Creative Writing Portfolio Plus Self-Reflective Commentary assessment option allows you to demonstrate:  
* Subject knowledge relating to the close analysis of form, meaning, language and context in Science Fiction (including sustainability and global and cultural capability narratives)
* Cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking
* Professional/practical skills in communicating ideas in writing
* Creative engagement with the opportunities and limitations of a particular mode of writing  
* Creative engagement with the texts and themes discussed on the module
* An ability to locate your own creative work fruitfully and articulately in relation to existing literary traditions and the contemporary field of literary production

Assessment Pattern

Essay (2500 Words) OR Creative Writing Portfolio (2000 Words of Creative Prose or Equivalent in Other Forms) Plus Self-Reflective Commentary (500 Words)


Formative assessment and feedback

For English literature students, verbal feedback and formative ‘feed forward’ is provided through seminar discussions, and tutor and peer feedback in seminars, Written and/or oral tutor feedback will also be provided on an essay plan (maximum of 500 words or equivalent) during the course of the module (the student is free to submit this at any point of the semester).

For creative writing students, verbal feedback and formative ‘feed forward’ is provided through seminar discussions, and tutor and peer feedback in seminars, on short pieces (250-500 words or equivalent in another form) presented as part of the confidence building safe space of the creative writing workshop element of the classes.
Each student can expect to present 2-3 such pieces over the course of the semester according to a schedule worked out between the tutor and the student cohort. Written and/or oral tutor feedback will also be provided on one piece of creative writing (maximum of 500 words or equivalent) during the course of the module (the student is free to submit this at any point of the semester).

For both sets of students writing, presentation and critical analysis skills will be developed and honed which will feed forward to the summative assessment at the end of the module.

There is the option of a range of other feedback mechanisms agreed between tutor and students in week 1 of the module, such as seminar contribution and writing exercises.

 

Module aims

  • This module aims to: broaden and deepen students' knowledge of the science fiction genres
  • increase knowledge and awareness of how science fiction reflects on and critiques broader cultural, socio-political and sustainability concerns
  • develop an understanding of theories of science fiction, particularly in relation to technologies and the human
  • further students' skills in terms of written communication and oral presentation
  • strengthen students' ability to undertake analytical and critical thinking and independent research
  • develop the ability in students to analyse and appraise compositional styles and techniques in science fiction genre writing, and apply critical insights to their own writing practices AND/OR published works
  • further develop skills relating to team-working, coherent argumentation and project management
  • encourage students to submit work for publication

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will have: developed knowledge of,and the ability to analyse, how science fiction engages with issues relating to technologies and the human (and by extension in their own writing for creative writing students) by studying critical approaches on the module and discussing texts in alongside other students in the seminars or creative writing workshops KC
002 Understood how to locate such analyses in their broader political, historical and socio-cultural cultural, historical, socio-political and environmental contexts K
003 Gained a critical perspective on the role of this literary genre in reflecting on and critiquing contemporary cultural, social, political and sustainability discourses and (for creative writing students) explored genre characteristics and constraints in relation to their own writing though interaction with source and critical materials in class and in their guided and independent learning as well as through discussion and feed back in the seminar and creative writing workshop settings CP
004 Developed further their ability to structure and communicate complex arguments orally and in written form and gained further workshopping and editing skills all of which will stand them in good stead throughout the rest of their degree and beyond as professional critics and writers and members of writerly communities and the literary industries, for example, as well as in a host of other employment roles in which these skills are highly desirable KT
005 Further developed their ability to research, interpret, and evaluate sources, debates, and ideas independently and as part of a group and have honed their skills in independent learning and time and project managemen PT
006 (for creative writing students) drawn more fully on their creative practice to inform their critical thinking, and vice versa and demonstrated further developed awareness of their creative process though the safe space of the creative writing workshop where students will receive support and advice in their journey to becoming a writer from both the seminar leader and fellow student creative writers as well as written competently and confidently in science fiction genres through engaging with the varied form based exercises in the weekly seminars KP
007 (for creative writing students) more fully developed their sense of their own practice as writers and/or that of other writers in science fiction composition practices that have had, and continue to have, significant impact and significance on contemporary culture and cultural production, including writing, film and that in other visual media and also developed a stronger sense of the materials and techniques available to them as writers, and to other writers, and begun to locate this work within the context of contemporary writing KCP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

•    Hone and develop students’ writing skills in academic writing, and/or creative writing (prose fiction, poetry, and/or screenwriting and other modes of production) by helping students understand the historical, cultural and political context of traditional and canonical as well as radical and experimental writing, and writing practices, in science fiction genres through in-class discussion alongside study of critical and source materials and (for creative writing students) sharing of writer experience.
•    Assist students in understanding the complex interrelationships between science fictions and social and cultural developments and concerns, such as gender and racial identity, globalisation, sustainability and politics by exposing them to a wide and varied range of science fictions and textual practices and encouraging their own critical responses to, and reimaginings of, these materials and the questions they raise though the supportive and affirming seminar and creative writing workshop settings.
•    Assist students in locating literary texts and their critical writing, and/or their creative work in historical and cultural contexts by developing a stronger sense of the materials and techniques available to them as writers, through close readings and discussions of materials in class, thereby helping them continue to locate their work within the context of contemporary writing and critical thinking, a vital step for both literature and creative writing students.
•    Equip students with the research and writing skills they will need to produce critically informed academic writing, and/or creative writing (prose fiction, poetry, and/or screenwriting and other modes of production) and creative criticism by helping them gain significant confidence, resilience and ability in presenting their critical analysis and thinking to the group in and in preparation for their assessments, as well as an ability to use specific compositional skills that will have practical application to their practices as critics and professional writers.
•    (for creative writing students) Equip students with further grounding in resourcefulness and resilience as new writers by giving them the freedom to experiment within, and perhaps through and in opposition to, genres in response to the open-ended form-based exercises each week, and by providing them with the supportive and encouraging safe space of the creative writing workshop within which they can refine their skills in receiving and giving constructive critical and writerly responses to their own work and those of other students and continue to develop their creative process.


The learning and teaching methods include a combination of lecture materials, seminars, captured content, guided learning and independent learning and includes a weekly interactive seminar (for English literature students) or workshopping (for creative writing students) element where students either present or respond to their own or other's critical ideas or creative work in a supportive, constructive and open manner.

Students will engage with preparatory reading, including (for creative writing students) creative work by other students, in advance of the seminar which will combine discussion of interrelated critical ideas and texts with in-class creative or critical writing exercises each week. Designed to help students reflect on and apply their learning to creative and critical outputs, the seminar/workshop environment acts as a safe space for developing and exchanging ideas, support, critical thinking and writing skills.

Varied learning materials such as, for example, lexical texts, visual materials, video and sound objects, games and gamified texts are designed to increase student accessibility and will present them with a range of interpretive materials and approaches with which to work and develop their own thinking and creative responses.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELI2038

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability: This module acts alongside other second year modules in both the English literature and creative writing streams to expose students to contemporary writing forms and genres in more detail and specificity expanding on the grounding developed in first year modules. The themes, knowledge and specialisms that this module explores will connect to other second year modules and will be picked up in final year modules, all of which facilitate students in both streams in homing and developing their compositional skills as writers and/or critics.
In this second year module you will get the chance to study, alongside advanced contextualising critical materials, one of the most commercially successful genre forms in the literary industries (actually a whole series of commercially successful forms).
This feeds directly into writing, language and analytical skills that your degree will help you develop that are prized so highly by modern employers in literature and writing students. Alongside this, exposure to key critical materials will help hone your analytical skills even further.
As a creative writing student, you will get the chance to explore literary form, style and language
in a wide range of SF (science fiction/speculative fiction) genres and sub-genres that will help you develop and contextualise your own writing. We will look at areas such as mixed genre writing, modernist and post-modernist forms, dystopian writing, identity writing, sustainability and eco- writing, narrative and worldbuilding, Point of View (POV), voice, writing the ‘alien’ and other formal aspects of the writing craft.
The skills developed in this module, developed alongside your other literature and creative writing modules across your degree, will help equip you for the vast range of employment and career pathways that our students go on to after (and sometimes during) their degree, beyond that of academic or creative writer (novelist, poet, non-fiction writer, for example). Amongst these are: copywriting, editorial roles, writing for games, teaching, publishing, marketing, proofreading, journalism and social media roles of all types just to name a few.
You will get the opportunity to experiment with and present critical and/or creative work in the workshop settings as well as respond to the work of other writers and critics, another set of key skills that creative writers and literature students bring to the table in a host of career and employment settings.
 
Global and Cultural Capabilities: Literature and creative writing are fields that teach us about the human experience and our part in local and global cultures, facilitating exchange of ideas and experiences and helping to foster creative and cultural empathy in readers and writers of all kinds across the globe. Creative and critical writing in these fields also play a very important recording and preservation role in narrativising and keeping alive and vibrant different cultures and experiences, especially those that might otherwise be silenced or endangered.
In this module you examine science fictions from a number of different angles and cultural contexts, including works that challenge orthodoxies of gender, race and identity in a host of international and global contexts. Science fiction literatures mirror and track our own real-world cultural positions and potential futures, often highlighting possibilities, difficulties, complexities and contradictions that our globalised cultures generate in our collective experience. You will be asked to respond critically and creatively to texts and modes of writing from this multi-faceted literary (and ‘non-literary’!) field in relation to your own cultures and backgrounds, to think about those of other students and writers, to respect and value differences in experience and to bring this knowledge into your critical and/or creative writing practice.
The weekly seminar and workshopping sessions give students the opportunity to present your own narrative to the cultural and literary context of science fiction writing and to experience and respond to those of others in a friendly, constructive and open forum.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: Literature and creative writing as disciplines exposes us to different, varied and diverse experiences from history as well as our contemporary world. Science Fiction writing adds to this a particular focus on alternative, imaginary, possible futures and contemporaneity. These literatures and the critical material around them teach us many things about ourselves as people, individuals and communities. How and why we behave and think the ways we do, how we cope with the challenges that our lives (and our lives in university!) throw at us. This module is no exception: science fiction as a collection of genres and sub-genres presents more than possible futures – they also represent our present and our possible presents, allegories for the values we seek, and hopes we have, for the societies we wish to build, reminding us that we can reshape our communities in ways that better reflect our own needs as individuals and citizens.
Famously, literature conveys important lessons, comfort and significance (emotional, mental and spiritual) to us through the medium of language, not just in what it says, but how it says it. Science fiction writing, in all its variety, offers alternative and potential futurity in a variety of literary and ‘non-literary’ forms and modes of expression that inspire us in our contemporaneity.
For creative writing students, the life of a writer can often be a solitary and isolating one. This module, through workshopping, group work and shared writerly experience will help equip you for the real world setting of your current and future writing practice. You will also continue to hone the critical contextualising faculties that you have been developing in your first year in other creative writing modules, through constructive critical workshopping of your work and those of your peer writing community.
The creative writing workshop in your second year modules is a more intensive but also more developed forum for you to receive support, encouragement and practically helpful feedback in a friendly and affirming environment that is difficult to replicate outside of university. The writing friendships and writerly connections you make in these creative writing seminars and workshops, and attached events, you will likely carry forward throughout your career as a writer. You will also benefit from the experience of your tutors as professional writers working today and from periodic guest speakers attached to this and other creative writing modules in relation to your practice as a writer, the practicalities of building a portfolio of writing and a profile as a writer, the realities of the publishing industries and the importance of connecting to writing communities that will be essential to your current and future emotional and practical wellbeing and success as a writer.

Sustainability: On this module, you will study a wide range of science fiction literatures from around the globe. One of the strongest trends in contemporary science fiction and other speculative fiction writing forms is the eco-writing and sustainably driven narrative where the future setting is utilised as a place (in all that its ‘placeness’ explores) to critique our contemporary environments and our relationships with them and those living things that occupy them alongside us.
The science fiction narrative is also one where (to different degrees of allegorical presentation) misunderstood, marginalised and/or endangered cultures are revealed and explored and this module helps to give voice to some of these important cultural and identity spaces and futures, helping to expand your knowledge and sensitivity as a thinker and as a writer.
As creative writers, students will also have the opportunity to write their own sustainability narratives in their current context in response to the ideas and techniques encountered in the writings on this module.
In this regard, this module corrects directly to other modules on your degree in the 1st and final years that also have a strong focus on cultural and ecological sustainability.

 

 

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and Spanish BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and French BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.