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  • Summer TermOnline Unscheduled



Unit rationale, description and aim

Professionals in any field of literary endeavour need a firm knowledge of the most popular genres that currently exist. Through this unit students will expand their knowledge of these popular genres by exploring a range of fantastic and science fiction narratives from the nineteenth century onwards. This unit encourages students to critically engage with fantasy and science fiction texts by bringing tools of analysis acquired in first year level units to research, discuss and reflect on key debates related to science fiction writing. The unit examines the ways in which science fiction and fantasy dreamscapes reflect and engage with cultural and social concerns such as gender, religion, war through a range of sub-genres such as dark fantasy, cyberpunk and dystopian fiction. The aim of this unit is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to identify and interpret the preoccupations of fantasy and science fiction texts so that they may discuss the ways in which fictional texts reflect or predict the state of society.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Discuss theoretical approaches towards and textual knowledge of science fiction and fantasy literatureGC1, GC2
LO2Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audienceGC11, GC12
LO3Locate, evaluate and appropriately reference a variety of texts relevant to science fiction and fantasy literature in order to develop evidence-based argumentsGC7, GC8, GC9, GC10
LO4Apply the methods that literary theorists have used to research and interpret science fiction and fantasy literatureGC1, GC2, GC7, GC8
LO5Reflect on key debates relating to literary studies over timeGC2


Topics will include: 

  • Fantasy, science fiction and dystopian texts 
  • The origins and development of the genres 
  • The elastic properties of genre 
  • Socio-cultural and socio-political implications of specific texts 
  • Transhumanism 
  • Critical literary theory 
  • Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and world Indigenous science fiction and fantasy 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Science Fiction and Fantasy are popular genres. This unit will foster a learner-centred online environment, to find out what students read and elicit their views. This unit seeks to provide students with the skills to apply critical literary and theoretical approaches to their current reading, but also to expand this range. This unit engages students in active learning activities, such as reading, writing, discussion and problem-solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content.  

As a fully online unit, The Literature of Other Worlds will make use of a selection of technological support systems such as online quizzes and discussion tools. Student participation in weekly digital activities will enhance the student learning experience and build the online learning community. 

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the teaching period. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy.  

The unit is hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS) site with resources and online links, announcements, and a discussion board to post questions and reflections that promote connection between content and educational experiences.

Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes, as described below.

Online unscheduled

Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 

Online scheduled

All learning activities are held online, at scheduled times, and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

ACU Online 

In ACU Online mode, this unit is delivered asynchronously, fully online using an active, guided learning approach. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessments have been structured to ensure that students engage with the course material.

  1. In The Literature of Other Worlds, students will be required to participate in activities designed to enhance online student learning and scaffold the content of the unit. These can include collaborative online discussions, personal reflective critiques, reading responses and short quizzes.  
  2. The fantasy research essay will allow students to undertake detailed research of a fantasy text, engaging in a close reading that explores its historical and cultural context, as well as an analysis of its significance in relation to contemporary anxieties. 
  3. The science fiction research essay will allow students to undertake detailed research of a science fiction text, engaging in a close reading that explores its historical and cultural context, as well as an analysis of its significance in relation to contemporary anxieties.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Online Activities 

Purpose: To provide students with an opportunity to analyse specific texts and to connect their analysis to debates and cultural moments within the genres. 


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 2: Research Essay: Fantasy

Purpose: To give students the chance to demonstrate their rigorous research skills and their application of critical literary theory to highlight the socio-cultural and political significance of a given fantasy text or texts. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Assessment Task 3: Research Essay: Science Fiction 

Purpose: To give students the chance to demonstrate their rigorous research skills and their application of critical literary theory to highlight the socio-cultural and political significance of a given science fiction text or texts. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Canavan, Gerry and Kim Stanley Robinson (eds). Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction. Wesleyan UP, 2014. 

DeGraw, Sharon. The Subject of Race in American Science Fiction. Routledge, 2016. 

Dillon, Grace L., ed. Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. University of Arizona Press, 2012. 

Fabrizi, Mark. Fantasy Literature: Challenging Genres. Critical Literacy Teaching Series. Sense Publishers, 2016. 

Harvey, Colin. Fantastic Transmedia: Narrative, Play and Memory Across Science Fiction and Fantasy Storyworlds. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 

McArthur, Sian. Gothic Science Fiction: 1818 to the Present. Palgrave, 2015. 

Roberts, Jude and Esther McCallum-Stewart. Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-ass Chicks. Routledge, 2016. 

Vint, Sherryl. Science Fiction: A Guide for the Perplexed. Bloomsbury, 2014. 

Walliss, John and Kenneth Newport. The End All Around Us: Apocalyptic Texts and Popular Culture. Routledge, 2014. 

Young, Helen. Race and Popular Fantasy Literature: Habits of Whiteness. Routledge, 2016. 

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