Genre, Energy, and the Futures of the Earth (PGT) ENGLIT5114

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

Energy is the basis of all life, activity, and culture. This Masters level course explores two key questions: firstly, how are literature and culture informed by the energy sources that power them, from oil to gas to solar? Secondly, how do contemporary genres, from Science Fiction to Fantasy to Utopianism to the weird, register this influence, and how do they shape the way we understand energy and our relationship to it, both in the present and the future? This course ranges from the vast engines of a Death Star to the solar utopias of activism to gain a sense of how we think about energy, and how it shapes us.


5x1hr lectures; 10x90min seminars over ten weeks which may be taught concurrently with ENGLIT4128 as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the MLitt options in English Literature and Fantasy and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus 

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses





30% mid-term essay (1000 words)

60% final essay (3500 words)

10% seminar participation  

Seminar participation is assessed over an entire course. The participation mark assesses the consistency and quality of informed participation in group work. Seminar work often requires free/associative discussion, but may involve different tasks and forms of discussion, whether set by seminar leader or the group itself. Stronger performance in seminar participation may involve one or more of the following characteristics:

- consistent attendance and good timekeeping

- consistent evidence of preparation for group work

- active and informed participation in group work

- the ability to facilitate discussion and elicit response

- respect for the value of contribution by others

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 


It is not possible to reassess seminar participation.

Course Aims

This course aims to provide students with the opportunity to:

■ Explore the ways in which energy shapes culture; 

■ Engage with the ways in which energy past and future is imagined across various media from books to films and TV to games;

■ Familiarise themselves with the narrative affordances of different popular genres, including Science Fiction, Fantasy and Utopia;

■ Consider how genre shapes the way that we articulate our energy futures from popular culture to advertising to radical politics.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course the students will be able to:

■ Evaluate the relative capabilities of different popular genres for constructing narratives of cultural change;

■ Analyse the construction of future narratives, reflect on their mechanics and identify narrative change and variation across various media;

■ Interrogate the values and assumptions behind opposing visions of the future, and how they relate to energy and are shaped by popular genre;

■ Conduct advanced critical work that brings pop culture, advertising, and political documents into conversation with perspectives from the Energy Humanities.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.