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Exploring Science Fiction (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Science fiction is a rich and exciting genre that uses the development and inventions of science and new technology to explore fundamental questions regarding what it means to be human. This course explores a number of great works of science fiction across the 20th century, using literature as a starting point for wider discussions about society. Authors include H.G Wells, Ursula le Guin, Isaac Asimov and Dorris Lessing.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No prior knowledge required.

Content of Course

1. Introduction to Science Fiction

2. Aldous Huxley - Brave New World (1932)

3. Stanislav Lem - Solaris (1961) 

4. J.G. Ballard - The Drowned World (1962) 

5. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - Hard To Be A God (1964) 

6. Ursula Le Guin - The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)

7. D. G. Compton - The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (1974) 

8. Doris Lessing - Memoirs of a Survivor (1974) 

9. Philip K. Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

10. P. D. James - The Children of Men (1995) 

Teaching method(s)

Lecture and guided close reading and discussion. Reading of the set texts is essential.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the vocabulary and narrative conventions of science fiction;

  • Discuss the history of science fiction, its cultural and political context, and of contemporary developments in the field;

  • Read actively rather than passively.


Core Readings


  • Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)

  • Stanislav Lem, Solaris (1961)

  • J.G. Ballard,The Drowned World (1962)

  • Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Hard To Be A God (1964)

  • Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)

  • D. G. Compton, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (1974)

  • Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)

  • Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

  • P. D. James, The Children of Men (1995)

Please note: the references are to editions of these books that are found in the University of Edinburgh Main Library. Newer editions of the books will be available elsewhere, and are also perfectly acceptable.

Web Sources

SF hub, hosted by the University of Liverpool, provides a plethora of sources for scholars interested in science fiction.

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.