UK university launches science fiction degree
Jul 16, 1999
The University of Glamorgan in the UK has launched a degree course in science and science fiction. Mark Brake, the physicist who is director of the course, hopes that the new degree will encourage more people to follow careers related to science and technology. "Science fiction is unique in its close relationship with science," says Brake, "and society needs more people with the ability to inspire young people and get them interested in science and technology." Between 50 and 100 students will start the course in September.
"Most people in the UK receive their science education through science fiction so it makes sense to study the link between science fiction and science fact," says Brake. The three year degree course will be split into thirty modules, over half of which will be based on astronomy and space science. There will be seven modules on science fiction, with the remaining modules covering the media, society and culture. According to Brake the students will study science topics such as quantum physics and then look at the science fiction works associated with them. They will also study the interaction between science/science fiction and the space race, the cold war and so on.
The students will be expected to read popular science books such as The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes and Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy by Kip Thorne, as well as books by H G Wells, George Orwell and Philip K Dick. They will also study computer games, merchandising and movies such as Blade Runner and The Terminator.
Glamorgan already runs a course on life in the universe, which includes material on the search for extra-terrestrial life, and a course on popular science and culture, which looks at various aspects of Einstein's theories of relativity, including their cultural impact. "It is important that we retain high academic standards which develop new and innovative ways of teaching science-related courses," says Brake. He hopes that graduates from the course will go on to careers in publishing, education and social research.