Climate Fiction

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
02 February 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA W8F912 Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment

Module description

The module responds to the global climate emergency by exploring how fictional writing, and some visual fiction, responds and has responded to climate change. We will explore and analyze historical and contemporary fiction (e.g., prose, poetry, some film and other visual imagery) beginning with an example from ancient classical literature, but most of the primary texts will be contemporary.

This approach will enable students to develop an advanced understanding of how imaginative writing and storytelling has responded over time to actual climate events, to scientific investigation into climate change, and to predictions of climate catastrophes. The analysis of these primary materials will be supported by study in critical and theoretical approaches from the field of ecocriticism, including those concerned with petrocultures, plantationocene land use, animal studies, food security, environmental injustice, and ecogothic. Creative writers will have the opportunity to respond to the primary text swith short written pieces that can, if they consent, be shared for discussion in seminars. This module actively encourages debate and students are invited to bring secondary sources for discussion where appropriate. Students will also have the opportunity to contribute short written pieces to a module blog.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  1. To provide a strongly supportive environment for the study of climate fiction.

  2. To develop students’ advanced understanding of how fiction has responded to, and enhanced awareness of, climate catastrophe as a global problem.

  3. To develop students’ advanced understanding of earlier historical periods when climate change caused, or was thought likely to cause, catastrophic situations; and to show how those earlier periods have shaped current approaches to the climate emergency.

  4. To develop students’ advanced understanding of how fiction in various forms can be a powerful, effective means of addressing the climate emergency.

  5. To develop students’ advanced understanding of a range of critical and theoretical frameworks that enhance understanding of climate fiction and its meanings.

  6. To enhance students’ employability by providing transferable skills with practical applicability. This includes teamwork built during study.

  7. To encourage life-long learning through a rigorous and focused programme of advanced study.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate advanced understanding of a variety of key types of climate fiction.

  2. Demonstrate advanced understanding of key theories of interpretation and be able to apply these to texts and other primary materials.

  3. Demonstrate mastery of complex interplays between historical, scientific, cultural, and environmental contexts in which climate fiction is produced and read.

  4. Use a range of research methods that build self-directed enquiry in a specialised area of study.

  5. Communicate advanced understanding of climate fiction and ecocritical understanding to peers and others, orally and in writing.

Transferable skills outcomes include:

  1. Developing confidence in advanced skills in critical analysis and expository writing.

  2. Developing advanced skills in identifying and using databases, electronic archives, and library resources including special collections, in addition to using more commonplace textual and visual sources.

  3. Interpreting and addressing the requirements of assignments at an advanced level.

  4. Developing self-confidence and skills in working with others to understand a complex and urgent global problem.

Module information

Climate Fiction explores how fiction mediates and engages with the climate emergency. Through weekly studies of primary texts, with some film and visual arts, students will explore and analyze historical and contemporary fiction (e.g., prose, poetry, some film and other visual imagery). Creative writers will have the opportunity to produce written responses to the weekly texts, or to follow the programme of critical and theoretical study to develop those skills. The syllabus builds a historical and conceptual framework for addressing and thinking creatively about urgent environmental challenges. Informed by the cutting-edge research of academic staff members in the Department, the module uses a conceptual and theoretical framework based in ecocriticism and environmental studies. Students will learn to think in interdisciplinary ways, since climate and environmental science along with environmental justice underpins the themes the module.

Weekly readings will comprise a primary text and at least one relevant example of theoretical and/or critical writing. The module will be bookended by an opening introductory seminar that will ensure students have a clear understanding of the syllabus and assessments, and a concluding seminar that will enable them to draw together what they have learned in an assessment of fiction as an important tool for addressing the real-world problem of the climate emergency.

Indicative syllabus

  • Introduction to climate fiction.

  • Climate change in ancient literature. How was climate change treated in ancient literature, and in what ways can we re-read historical climate fiction?

  • Climate fiction in the early 19th Century poetry and art.

  • The apocalyptic climate novel.

  • Afro and Feminist post-apocalyptic Climate Sci-fi.

  • Indigenous communities and post-apocalyptic climate Sci-fi.

  • Climate fiction in Film. What would happen if human activity led to the collapse of the North Atlantic gyre and air currents?

  • Speculative Climate Fiction and Solarpunk

  • Climate fiction in interdisciplinary journalism. How is climate change being addressed through fiction in mainstream contemporary journalism?

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be delivered via:

  • Ten 2-hour weekly seminars

Each seminar will include an introduction to each week’s topic, delivered by the tutor, followed by interactive group discussion and practical exercises. Students will be encouraged to conduct their own research and to make contributions to seminars, with preparatory support and guidance provided on Moodle.

The module convenor or acting tutor will introduce each week’s topic. Discussion will follow and depending on numbers of students taking the module, there will be group work on the set topic. Inclusivity will be a priority and students who have particular learning needs will be provided with the support needed for them to participate and enjoy the full learning experience.

Details of each week’s primary reading will be provided on Moodle, Talis and in the Module Handbook. Suggestions for further (optional) reading will be provided on Moodle at least a week ahead of each seminar.

Full primary and secondary bibliographies will be provided on Moodle, Talis and in the Module Handbook.

Suggestions for extended research will be provided each week for students who wish to extend their study beyond the immediate scope of the syllabus.


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

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Formative assessment - book review, blogpost or equivalent short piece of creative writing (1,000 words)    0% 
Coursework   Research essay or creative writing fiction piece with reflective critical commentary (5,000 words)    100% 

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



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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