Fantasy science fiction landscape on an alien world

Is space really the final frontier? Or is it the imagination of science fiction writers? Join us to discover how science fiction as developed over the centuries, and its relationship to science fact.

At a Glance

  • Classroom course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Tuesdays 18:30 - 20:30
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • Tutor: Glyn Morgan
  • Fees from £220 to £410
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
Booking link

Join Dr Glyn Morgan of London's Science Museum on an exploration of the history and form of science fiction through the ages.

Science fiction is going through a renaissance at the moment, and this course is designed to give us the opportunity to explore the genre. We will look at work from the start of science fiction in the work of writers such as Margaret Cavendish in the seventeenth century, through to the creators of blockbuster science fiction movies today.

We will discover how the genre has evolved, how it has manifested itself in different media and at different times, and how it often says as much about the time in which it is created as it does about an imagined future. On the course we will look at a number of science fiction writers and film and television makers in detail, as well as at the changing aesthetic of imagined worlds in science fiction art, literature and film.

The course will also look at how a number of inventions from science fiction have become fact, from the development of Star Trek-style personal communicators in mobile telephones, to the very real possibility that we might see human beings colonise Mars.

The course is aimed at complete beginners, and so no previous knowledge of art, film studies or literary history or practice is necessary.

*Classroom Based Teaching Subject to Government and Imperial College Regulations

Providing the regulations from government and Imperial College permit us to do so, we will deliver this course in person in a classroom at Imperial College in South Kensington. Because of this numbers will be limited. In the event of government or Imperial College regulations changing either before or during the run of the course the weekly sessions will move online with weekly sessions delivered live via the internet.

Please be aware of covid-19 safe-distancing requirements and other covid-related rules and adhere to them. If possible we ask that participants on this course take a home swab test (lateral flow test) before joining each session of the class. These can be ordered free of charge prior to the start of the course from https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests or obtained free of charge from many pharmacists.

Attendance certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

Course programme

AUTUMN TERM

  • Session 1: What is Science Fiction (SF)?
  • Session 2: Proto-SF: Imaginary Voyages, Dreams and Visions
  • Session 3: Frankenstein: 1818, The Birth of Genre
  • Session 4: Scientific Romance
  • Session 5: American Pulp
  • Session 6: What is a Golden Age?
  • Session 7: New Wave
  • Session 8: Punking SF
  • Session 9: Queering SF

*** Christmas break ***

SPRING TERM

  • Session 10: Alternate History
  • Session 11: Arabic SF
  • Session 12: Space Opera
  • Session 13: SF Comics
  • Session 14: Chinese SF
  • Session 15: SF Art
  • Session 16: Architecture and SF
  • Session 17: Afrofuturism
  • Session 18: Poetry and SF
  • Session 19: Ecological SF
  • Session 20: 21st Century SF

The programme and the exact order of the classes are subject to modification

Additional Reading

To enable discussion, a selection of short stories and extracts will be provided by the tutor each week.

Your Tutor

Glyn Morgan photoDr Glyn Morgan is a curator at the Science Museum in London working on a forthcoming major exhibition at the museum exploring the links between science and science fiction, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool. He is author of Imagining the Unimaginable: Speculative Fiction and the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2020) and co-editor of Sideways in Time: Critical Essays on Alternate History Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2019) which was shortlisted for a British Science Fiction Association Award.

Course Delivery: Classroom Taught Courses

Courses delivered in-person in a classroom*

This course takes place at our South Kensington Campus and will be classroom taught.

All courses lasting two hours have a 10-minute break in the middle. For one hour courses there is no break.

Covid-19 and Safe Distancing for Classroom-based Courses

Please be aware of covid-19 safe-distancing requirements and adhere to them. We ask if possible that participants on this course take a home swab test (lateral flow test) before joining each session of the class. Swab tests can be ordered free of charge prior to the start of the course from https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests or obtained free of charge from many pharmacists.

* In the event of the government or Public Health England requiring further lockdown measures the class will transfer online and any remaining sessions will be taught entirely online.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 40  20  £420    (Early Bird Rate: £380*)
£250    (Early Bird Rate: £230*) £330    (Early Bird Rate: £300*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October only  |   All fee rates quoted are for the whole 2-term course.


Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors)
  • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
  • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should contact eveningclass@imperial.ac.uk before completing the online enrolment form

Associate Rate

  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Members of the Kennel Club
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • National Health Service (NHS) employees
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Teachers and other staff of UK schools
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 40  20 18 Oct - 18 Dec 2021 (9 weeks)*  PLUS 10 Jan - 26 Mar 2022 (11 weeks) n/a n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 2nd August 2021

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

  • Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the tutor, Dr Glyn Morgan at drgrmorgan@gmail.com
  • Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator, eveningclass@imperial.ac.uk

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.