EL6002 - Alternative Worlds: Utopian Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares

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What will I learn on this module?

This module examines a selection of utopian and dystopian fiction of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It provides an interesting area for you to apply and further develop critical theories explored in level 4 and 5 modules (especially those concerning gender, class, and ethnicity) through an examination of a challenging genre that embraces the complex field of non-realist representation, science fiction, satire and social commentary, prediction, politics and polemic. Some of the issues on which the module focuses include evolution, progress, eugenics, genetics, man and machine, alternative histories, apocalypse, ‘racial’ and gendered identities and conflicts. The module also aims to explore genre definitions and limitations, particularly the divide between utopian and dystopian fiction.

How will I learn on this module?

2 x weekly 1.5 hour seminar,

This module will be delivered via two weekly seminars. Each week seminars will discuss the critical and contextual framework for the text or texts under discussion and provide you with the opportunity to explore the texts discursively through small-group exercises, presentations, and debate. Seminars will be based around peer and tutor-discussion of the texts in relation to themes introduced by the tutor. You will play, with advice from the tutor, an active role in preparing for, and leading, part of each seminar.

In addition to developing and learning in these contact hours, you will be expected to undertake directed learning and independent learning. Directed learning will take the form of reading and written preparation for the seminars, either individually or in small groups. Independent learning will take the form of further reading and investigation, the consolidation of seminar materials and preparation and research for the module’s assessment.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Seminars and tasks (both in class and online) will develop your academic skills as you engage with primary, secondary, theoretical and contextual materials to allow you to attain the module learning outcomes. The module handbook and the eLP provide details of seminar topics, reading lists and assessment criteria. The module tutor will be available in seminars, during office hours and via email/phone, to discuss any queries or concerns you have about how to excel academically on the module. Moreover, feedback on formative work and the first summative assessment will also serve as ‘feed forward’, giving guidance on how to improve during the module. In addition, you have a designated Guidance Tutor throughout the entire duration of your programme. The academic side of the Guidance Tutor’s role includes:
• monitoring your ongoing academic progress
• helping you to develop self-reflection skills necessary for continuous academic development
• directing you to further available services which can help them with their academic skills (e.g. Library’s Skills Plus)

You are advised to see your Guidance Tutor at least twice each semester to review your academic progress. The Guidance Booklet, which you receive at the start of your first year, includes structured materials designed to help you develop your self-reflection skills. These materials underpin the academic side of the regular Guidance meetings, helping you to learn how to best use the feedback you receive on your assignments, how to build on your strengths, and improve in the areas where you could perform better.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1 an enhanced understanding of issues raised by the texts researched and topics discussed

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
2 augmented intellectual skills in employing theoretical and critical material in relation to non-mainstream literature;
3 developed abilities in close and interdisciplinary textual analysis;

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4 an improved awareness of recent and current debates around evolution, devolution, eugenics, genetics, man and machine, alternative histories, apocalypse, race and gender, and twentieth and twenty-first century literature’s intervention in those debates;
5 enhanced skills conforming to relevant standards of good academic conduct in the expression of an informed argument in written forms through completing the various activities prescribed.

How will I be assessed?

Formative (practice) assessment
1. 500 word review of a secondary critical source

Summative (graded) Assessments

1. Portfolio of reviews of secondary criticism on genre – 40%
a portfolio of two 750-word reviews of secondary criticism on utopian/ dystopian fiction. The analysis of secondary sources tests your understanding of the conceptual and theoretical ideas concerning the genre through the analysis of criticism on the subject. A choice of articles/ texts will be provided for you but you will also have a possibility to review sources uncovered on your own.

2. 2,500 word essay – 60%
The essay provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the issues surrounding the genre of utopia/dystopia and display (and develop) your ability to critically research and undertake comparative analysis of utopian/dystopian texts. MLOs 1-3, 5.

Feedback will be provided using the Departmental template and comments on the script.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code T710

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2021

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Courses starting in 2021 are offered as a mix of online and face to face teaching due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Students will be required to attend campus as far as restrictions allow. Contact time will increase as restrictions ease, or decrease, potentially to a full online offer, should restrictions increase.

Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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