Understanding and Writing Science Fiction

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The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 01 July 2022
04 October 2018


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module provides a historical overview of science-fiction: how it develops as a genre, and the key animating themes. Within this overview, the students will write their own science fiction stories and these will be the focus of the assessment.

Over two terms, the students will produce TWO short stories for assessment, with accompanying commentary. Each submission has a total word count of between 2500-3000 words.

Prior to submission for assessment, stories will be developed and workshopped in class, both in terms of helping students develop their writing and rewriting skills and in terms of how the stories relate to the science-fiction field.

The first half of each seminar explores a primary science fiction text supplemented by secondary texts from film, TV and the net. The second half of each seminar is given over to fiction workshops in which the students will devise and write science fiction short stories and complete world-building exercises.

Module aims

No information available.

Module learning outcomes

No information available.

Module information

Anticipated Coursework Assessment change for 2018/19:

2 short stories with commentary and Class Participation 5 per cent.

Word count for each assignment (short story + commentary) is between 2500 and 3000 words.

Please access the following link to find out about the reading week-by-week:

Anders, Charlie Jane, All the Birds in the Sky, 2016
Asimov, Isaac, I, Robot, 1940-1950
Ballard, JG, Dream Cargos, short story
Ballard, JG, The Drowned World, 1962
Berlatsky, Eric, Alan Moore Conversations (see also 'Matthew De Abaitua in conversation with Alan Moore'
Bester, Alfred, The Stars, My Destination, 1956
Borges, Jorge Luis, 'Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius' from Labyrinths, 1961
Butler, Octavia E, Kindred
Chiang, Ted, Stories of Your Life and Others
Clarke, Arthur C, Rendezvous with Rama, 1972
De Abaitua, Matthew, The Destructives, 2016
Gibson, William, Neuromancer, 1984
Haldeman, Joe, The Forever War, 1974
Huxley, Aldous, Brave New World, 1931
K Dick, Philip, We Can Remember it for You Wholsale
K Dick, Philip, Ubik, 1969
Le Guin, Ursula, The Dispossessed, 1974
Le Guin, Ursula, The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas (in: Kelly, James Patrick (ed), The Secret History of Science Fiction)
Lethem, Jonathan, Hardened Criminals (in: Kelly, James Patrick (ed), The Secret History of Science Fiction)
Matheson, Richard, I am Legend, 1954
Moore, Alan and Lloyd, David, V for Vendetta, 1982-1989
Stapledon, Olaf, Starmaker, 1937
Sturgeon, Theodore, More Than Human, 1953
Tiptree Jnr, James, The Screwfly Solution, 1977
Wells, HG, The Time Machine, 1895

General texts that are useful for students undertaking Creative Writing for the first time:

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, John Gardner. (Reissue 2001)
Get Started in: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, Adam Roberts, 2014
Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing, Ursula K.Le Guin, 1998.
Writing In General and the Short Story Inparticular, Rust Hills, 2000.
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff Vandermeer, 2013

Science Fiction studies
The History of Science Fiction, Adam Roberts, 2007.
Microworlds, Stanislaw Lem, 1986.
Strange Divisions & Alien Territories: The Sub-Genres of Science Fiction, ed. Keith Brooke, 2012.

Science Inspiration
The Faber Book of Science, John Carey, 2005.
This Book Will Make You Smarter, John Brockman, Doubleday

Learning and teaching methods

A combination of short lectures, discussion, practical work and intensive story workshopping is used in combination with various online activities. Coursework: students will select two of their assigned pieces of creative writing and submit new drafts that have been rewritten in the light of workshopping and discussion.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting

Additional coursework information

Word count for each assignment (short story + commentary) is between 2,500 and 3,000 words.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mr Matthew De Abaitua, email:
Matthew De Abaitua
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 80 hours, 78 (97.5%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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