Fractal City

The ideas behind a century of science fiction works and what they might tell us about our own future

Module details

  • Offered to 1st years
  • Tuesdays 16.00-18.00
  • 8 weeks (autumn term only)
  • Planned delivery: On-campus (South Kensington)
  • Non-credit only
How to enrol

Science fiction has become a discipline for serious academic study. Its ability to address complex questions about the relationship between science and humanity is particularly pertinent as culture becomes increasingly enthralled by technology.

Focusing on Science fiction’s development throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century, this module will take you through a representative sample of science fiction (novels, short stories, drama and film), looking at the different themes, techniques and sub-genres, examining their wider contexts and deeper meanings.

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

Flying saucer

On successful completion of this module, you will be better able to:

  • Identify key themes, genres and concepts to relevant science fiction literature
  • Apply topics from social, technological, and political history to science fiction works
  • Evaluate different speculative techniques from fiction
  • Develop and create imaginative, speculative piece of writing using ideas from the module

Indicative core content

Sci-fi illustration

The teaching of this module is partitioned into themes including:

  • Alien Encounters - ethical and political issues in alien narratives. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • Artificial Humanity – a look into the philosophical issues relating to Artificial Intelligence in reality and in works like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner
  • Ecology – a look into the contemporary understanding of the eco-system as presented in thinkers like James Lovelock and in works like James Cameron’s Avatar

Learning and teaching approach

The class will open by discussing your general knowledge about the genre and about the issues involved. Ideas from your degree subjects at Imperial will be brought to bear on the fictional works studied. You will be encouraged to bring your own reading in science, fiction and science fiction to classes.
Science fiction has always had a very active and productive readership. As well as the more traditional works of secondary literature, you are encouraged to view, and to actively participate in, some of the myriad online fan sites and forums for science fiction discussion.
You will submit assignments through the module VLE, though which you will receive written feedback commenting your assessments. You will receive feedback within two weeks of submission.


  • Coursework: Essay - 1500–2000 words (100%)

Key information

  • ECTS value: 0
  • Requirements: You must be prepared to attend all classes and to spend about an hour a week preparing for each session
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 4 course. For an explanation of levels, view the Imperial Horizons Level Descriptors page.‌
"The course has been fantastic. I enjoy exploring the sub-genres of science fiction."