Other Worlds: Dystopias and Futures - ENGL3410

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Autumn Term 4 15 (7.5) Juha Virtanen checkmark-circle


There is another world, which is this world. This module is founded on the understanding that through engaging with narratives of dystopias, futures, and other speculative realities, we can gain some clarity of the pressing issues we face in the world today. Through examining five thematically structured units over the course of the term, our studies will consider how the study of narratives that exist in 'other worlds' can offer insightful and nuanced analyses of complex questions involving environmental, political, historical and/or societal concerns. We will also consider how these broader contexts and concerns can be utilized to further interrogate the literary texts that we will study. Throughout the module, generic terms such as 'dystopian fiction' or ‘science fiction’ will be understood both broadly and generatively, and our studies will cover both literary and so-called paraliterary examples, alongside occasional screenings of films. Through these multiple forms, we will also have the opportunity to consider questions regarding high and low culture, the seductiveness of certain narrative forms, and the possible tensions between literary and social history.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Presentation project (5-6 minutes) - 30%
Research project (2,500 words) - 50%
Seminar participation - 20%

Reassessment Methods:
Alternative assessment: 100% Coursework (2,000 words).

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Atwood, Margaret. 2017. The Handmaid's Tale. Vintage
Butler, Octavia. 1993. Parable of the Sower. Grand Central Publishing.
Le Guin, Ursula. 2015. The Word for World is Forest. Gateway.
McCarthy, Cormac. 2010. The Road. Picador.
Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons. 2014. Watchmen. DC Comics.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. identify specific thematic concerns relating to dystopian and science fiction texts, alongside the appropriate terminology and potential complexities relating to these themes;
2. understand the relationship between literary and genre fictions in relation to specific political, environmental, historical, and social contexts, as well as the interconnections and tensions between these separate contexts;
3. understand and critically interrogate the historical and cultural specificity of perceived divisions such as 'high' and 'low' culture;
4. Critically evaluate, through a range of different methods, genre fictions, their relationship to literary texts, and their capacity and potential for political efficacy and agency.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. identify and apply strategies of reading relevant to the material they encounter;
2. apply close reading techniques to a range of literary texts, and to make complex comparisons between them;
3. effectively communicate through a range of different means;;
4. begin self-directed research and discuss, evaluate, and creatively deploy secondary critical and theoretical perspectives;
5. construct original, articulate, and well-substantiated arguments;
6. manage their time and workload effectively.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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