BA History and Sociology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
In Frankenstein's Footsteps: Science Fiction in Literature and Film.

Course unit fact file
Unit code HSTM20801
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Do scientists play God? Is it possible to understand an alien? Will machines rise up and enslave us? Does the rapid pace of scientific and technological change point towards a future paradise – or a hell on Earth? Or just to a different world that seems equally “normal”?

These are questions which authors and film-makers have long explored through fiction, for a wide variety of reasons: to make money by providing popular entertainment; to explore philosophical questions about the nature of humanity, technology or civilisation; to promote possible future projects in real life, or to warn of emerging dangers; to comment on the politics, social issues and cultural assumptions of their own times.

This course uses science fiction literature and film from the nineteenth century to the present day to explore the changing place of science in the cultural imagination. We ask how science fiction has revealed – and sometimes changed – public dreams and anxieties around technology, the power of science, the future of our earth, and what it means to be human.



To explore through science fiction literature and film the cultural responses to science and technology. This course takes a selection of classic texts and films from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries to explore the popular imagining of science and technology over this period.

Learning outcomes






Teaching and learning methods



Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 25%
Written assignment (inc essay) 25%
Project output (not diss/n) 50%

Source Analysis

Feedback methods

Detailed feedback on assessed coursework is provided using Turnitin via Blackboard.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Project supervision 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Sumner Unit coordinator

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