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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Writing Speculative Fiction (fusion online) (EFIE11091)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryExplore visions of the future through reading selected short fiction, learning about the craft of fiction, and writing and workshopping your own science fiction story in this friendly introduction to the genre.
Course description Writing Speculative Fiction offers you the opportunity to engage imaginatively with visions of possible futures by using creative writing as a mode of speculative enquiry. In the process of creating your own science fiction (SF) short story, you will read and discuss selected examples from the genre as well as exploring what makes any good story work through a focus on craft, including short craft-based activities in class (or synchronously/asynchronously online, depending on time zone).

This is an intensive course that encompasses critical and creative reading in advance of a two-day block of teaching, during which we will: explore definitions of science fiction, and writing as a mode of enquiry; examine four SF short-stories, with a focus on premise, character, perspective and worldbuilding; experiment with a series of guided writing activities. On day 1 there will be a Q&A with a visiting SF author; on day 2 we will model the creative writing workshop experience in class in preparation for the online asynchronous workshop in which you will refine your own story prior to submission.

The teaching will draw on different pedagogical approaches from mini-lectures and Q&As to writing activities and lively discussions in and outside the classroom. The course will entail fusion delivery (physical/online), with interaction between co-present and remote students, through recorded sessions and online forums accessible to all. Teaching will be streamed online and recorded for access by synchronous and asynchronous remote students. Panel and group discussions will be digitally recorded by students and continued online. Following the intensive block of teaching, there will be a whole-class workshop to discuss students' story premises, along with asynchronous small student groups to workshop students' stories.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - Online Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities. Students should note that their interactions may be recorded and live-streamed. There will, however, be options to control whether or not your video and audio are enabled.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  6
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 18/09/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 1, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 5, Online Activities 1, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 79 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment:

The course will be assessed by means of the following assessment components:

1) Original SF Story (1500-2500 Words) (75%)

The story premise will be due after the intensive, with formative feedback on this scheduled via a whole-class online workshop. The session will be recorded and comments for students who cannot make the synchronous meeting will be fed in.

Students will then workshop a draft of their full stories asynchronously four weeks after the intensive, with one more week allocated to redrafting prior to submission.

Students will be assessed according to criteria that measure: writing craft, including structural awareness, control of voice and viewpoint, and feeling for language; imaginative development; and originality.

2) 5000 Word Reflective Component (25%)
Feedback Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Group and individual verbal feedback takes place during the intensive teaching block and in a workshop with a particular focus on each student's premise. Peer feedback is given via asynchronous group workshops taking place after the teaching block and in advance of the submission deadline.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Remain open to criticism and respond effectively and creatively to feedback on their creative work.
  2. Work from initial conception through multiple drafts to the final version of a story.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of formal elements of craft in fiction and work creatively with a critical understanding of theories and concepts of the science fiction genre.
  4. Interrogate ideas using fiction as a mode of engaging imaginatively with visions of possible futures.
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:

Essential Reading:

(Primary texts will be selected for each year group, and may change year on year.)

Creative Texts:

Butler, Octavia E. 'Bloodchild' in Bloodchild and Other Stories / Octavia E. Butler. 2nd edition. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005.

Chiang, Ted. 'Division by Zero' in Stories of Your Life and Others. Vintage Reissue Edition, 2010.

Lee, Yoon Ha. 'A Vector Alphabet of Intersteller Travel'. Tor, Macmillan, August 10 2011,

Yang. J.Y. 'Patterns of a Murmuration, In Billions of Data Points'. Clarkesworld, Clarkesworld Magazine, vol 96, September 2014.

Secondary Essential Reading:

Critical Texts:

VanderMeer, Jeff, and Ann Vandermeer. 'Introduction' in Big Book of Science Fiction. New York: Random House US, 2016.

Fowler, Bo. 'The Science of Fiction'. New Humanist, The Rationalist Association, 31 May 2007,

Craft Texts:

VanderMeer, Jeff. [excerpts from] Wonderbook: An Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. New York: Abrams, 2013.

Le Guin, Ursula K. [excerpt from] Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story. Boston: Mariner, 2015.

Clarke, Lindsay. 'Going the Last Inch' in Bell, Julia, and Paul Magrs (eds.) The Creative Writing Coursebook': Forty Writers Share Advice and Exercises for Poetry and Prose / Edited by Julia Bell and Paul Magrs. London: Macmillan, 2001.

Johnson, Charles. 'On Craft and revision' in The Way of the Writer': Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling / Charles Johnson. First Scribner edition. New York: Scribner, 2016.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course develops graduate skills in research, enquiry and communication (SCQF 1 and 4), and the attributes of intellectual autonomy and personal effectiveness in collaborative working (SCQF 3 and 5), and provides an opportunity to practice existing technical and creative skills (SCQF 2 and 4).
KeywordsScience Fiction,Speculative Fiction,Creative Writing,Short Stories,Fiction,Futures
Course organiserDr Jane Alexander
Tel: (0131 6)50 8991
Course secretaryMiss Abby Gleave
Tel: (0131 6)51 1337
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