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FILM3009 Science Fiction Film after 1973

Module Overview

This module aims to introduce you to the genre of utopian and dystopian science-fiction film, in order to examine utopian and dystopian constructions of identity in science-fiction film.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• briefly introduce you to the genre of mass market science-fiction film, its origins and development • familiarise you with contemporary examples of science-fiction cinema • encourage you to explore the debates rehearsed in those films • encourage you to use appropriate theoretical material to produce your own readings of the films • develop your awareness of issues of representation • develop your understanding of the relationship between audience and text

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • contemporary examples of relevant films
  • the debates rehearsed in those films
  • appropriate critical approaches
  • issues of representation
  • the relationship between the audience and the text
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • investigate, discuss and write analytically about specific areas studied within the module
  • show an awareness of the significance of social and historical context;
  • investigate the relationship between the films and their audiences;
  • communicate ideas and arguments effectively in writing
  • investigate topic boundaries, and their relationship to other disciplinary frameworks
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • write critically, reflectively and accurately
  • participate productively in academic debate
  • use a range of secondary material


We will consider a variety of science-fiction films produced from 1973 onwards, to investigate how these imagined communities contribute to a ‘cognitive mapping’ of their contemporary social sphere, a symbolic site where diverse issues can be articulated and negotiated, such as those relating to culture, science, and corporate capitalism; the revisioning of gender and race; and the negotiation of identity through cyberpunk, globalisation and the transnational. A selection of relevant films might include: Outland (1981); Blade Runner (1982); Johnny Mnemonic (1995); Gattaca (1997); Starship Troopers (1997); The Matrix (1999); eXistenZ (1999); Minority Report (2002). The films will be examined with attention to their socio-historical contexts, genre, modes of representation, and audience response, as well as considering approaches based on Williams, Gramsci, Jameson, and Hall.

Special Features

o The lectures will introduce you to the development of the genre, key issues, debates, approaches, and critics, and suggest areas of further enquiry, which could be pursued either in seminars or individual work. o The seminars will focus on the selected films and will provide a forum in which you can exchange ideas, discuss issues of relevance, and develop your understanding of particular critical approaches. o Informal feedback of your research to your peers will enhance your understanding and theirs, as well as strengthening your key skills in research, assessment and selection of material, and presenting to the group.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures, used to introduce key issues • seminars to discuss ideas and concepts • screenings of relevant films Learning activities include • close reading and careful analysis of films • individual research • presenting ideas/examples to the rest of the seminar

Follow-up work20
Wider reading or practice19
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Completion of assessment task60
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Christine Cornea (2007). Science Fiction Cinema: Between Fantasy and Reality. 

Vivian Sobchack (1998). Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film. 

J.P. Telotte (1995). Replications: A Robotic History of the Science Fiction Film. 

Ziauddin Sardar and Sean Cubitt, (eds) (2002). Aliens R Us. 

Sean Redmond, (ed.) (2004). Liquid Metal. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback - You will be encouraged to prepare topics for seminar presentation - You will be encouraged to discuss preparation for your formal assessments: for example, draft plans - You will have the opportunity to seek individual advice on your work in progress by appointment with your tutor - Guidance and advice on the preparation, completion and presentation of work will be given in class Feedback on summative assessments will be given in writing on Film essay cover sheets. You will be given the opportunity to discuss the feedback on your essay in one-to-one tutorials.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 50%
Essay  (2500 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 50%
Essay  (2500 words) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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