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Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:05

Course Overview

What does the future hold for modern civilization? The future has no history, but writers of modern fiction have long exercised the privilege of speculating and reflecting on what we might have to hope or fear in the coming centuries. From the Communist utopia of William Morris, through the speculations of H. G. Wells and Aldous Huxley, to the environmental catastrophes of postwar science fiction, this course explores how British writers (1870-1960) have responded to the ferment of new social, political and scientific ideas emerging from the age of empire, industry and global commerce. 

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Professor Ralph J. O'connor

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme
  • Either Programme Level 4 or Programme Level 5
  • English (EL)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • EL40OE Fictional Futures: Apocalypse and Utopia in Modern Fiction (Passed)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The late nineteenth century was a turbulent period which saw the headlong acceleration of the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of the British Empire; it also saw sweeping social changes, the rise of rival empires, and the birth of new social and political movements from feminism to Communism. What did the future hold for Britain, for Western civilization, and for the human race as a whole? In this period, writers of fiction vied with each other in playing on their readers’ hopes and fears, presenting exotic and radically divergent visions of the future in fictional form, ranging from nightmares of totalitarianism, racial degeneration or mass extinction to distant prospects of a socialist paradise or a drug-induced utopia. This course focuses on the fictional futures produced in Britain between 1870 and c. 1960, exploring the interplay between imaginative fantasy and the real-life concerns of the writers and readers. 

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Seminar during University week s 26 - 35, 39

More Information about Week Numbers

Summative Assessments

Alternative Assessment

3,000-word Essay (80%)

SAM (20%), half of which is assessed via a written Course Journal

Alternative Resit Assessment

Essay - 100%


Formative Assessment

Formative assessment: students who wish may submit up to 1000 words for informal feedback, at the same time as the original primary-source comparison was due to be submitted, but this will not be required.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberILO’s for this course are available in the course guide.

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