Science Fiction - Issues and Approaches

On this page


Module code


The aim of the module is to introduce you to works of science fiction literature from 1818 to the early 1960s.

You will develop an understanding of the concerns and themes of science fiction, including issues of power, technology, and alienation, super/posthumanism.

We will also examine the way in which these texts speculate about the future, or raise ethical questions relevant to the time of their creation.

Indicative topics:

  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)
  • Jules Verne, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864)
  • H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895) and War of the Worlds (1898)
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915)
  • Yevgeny Zamyatin, We (1921)
  • Olaf Stapledon, First and Last Men (1930)
  • Katharine Burdekin, Swastika Night (1937)
  • George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four (1949)
  • Asimov, I, Robot (1950)
  • Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles (1950)
  • John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids (1951)
  • Richard Matheson, I am Legend (1954)
  • Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination (1956)
  • Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers (1959) and Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)


  • Weekly journal of 250 words (20%)
  • Presentation (20%)
  • Research assessment of 4,000 words (60%)

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Perform close reading of science fiction texts at a sophisticated level
  • Show familiarity with the historical development, topical contexts and cultural influence of these texts
  • Show awareness of the variety of genres and themes and how these might be analysed and interpreted using close reading
  • Articulate independent critical responses to these works


Dr Nicole Devarenne


There are weekly seminars lasting two hours.