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Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

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What makes for successful science fiction? How do you build a fantasy world?

This practical writing course explores a range of frameworks and concepts that underpin these popular genres, from alterity to the posthuman, while also enabling you to avoid the pitfalls of exposition and infodumps.

By exploring some of the most influential science fiction and fantasy writers to date, you will craft your own stories, while engaging with elements of science, philosophy, politics and critical theory.

You will examine the variety of ways in which science fiction and fantasy explores contemporary ideas of who we are, how we engage in community, and how we respond to otherness.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered in person through ten two-hour sessions, made up of lectures, class discussions, small group work and debates.

Class sessions will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.

Topics may include:

  • the difference between science fiction and fantasy
  • how to avoid boring exposition and infodumps
  • how to combine world building with characters and plot
  • how to reveal world details dramatically through actions and reactions
  • the role of routine behaviour in grounding the fantastical.

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved.

Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning.

Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Students will complete a creative writing portfolio and write reflectively about their own process.

The portfolio will be around 1,500 words in length.

Reading suggestions

Students may find the following primary texts useful to explore:

  • Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles (1950)
  • Octavia Butler, Bloodchild and Other Stories (2005)
  • Susanna Clarke Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
  • Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1969)
  • Neil Gaiman American Gods (2001)
  • William Gibson Neuromancer (1984)
  • Stephen King The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (1982)
  • Jules Verne Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (2007 version)
  • Andy Weir The Martian (2011)
  • H. G Wells The War of the Worlds (1898)

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.