• Offered by School of Philosophy
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Philosophy
  • Areas of interest Philosophy, Science, Literature, Film
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

From Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Ridley Scott's Bladerunner, science fiction films, books and short stories have long been used to explore alternative possibilities and futures for ourselves, our societies and our planet.  This unit exploits this body of work to explore various key philosophical issues, such as time travel, the mind-body problem, personal identity, bioethics and global justice, through various works of science fiction. In addition, our enquiry extends beyond the works themselves to the meta-philosophical question of the epistemic role of fictions, thought experiments, imaginings and models in  philosophy and other disciplines such as biology, economics and physics. What, if anything, can thinking about alternative possibilities tell us about the world? Why?

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

    Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

    1. Identify and articulate key philosophical issues as presented in works of science fiction.
    2. Engage in philosophical discussion and debate on those philosophical issues.
    3. Critically assess arguments about the epistemic role of fictions, thought experiments, imaginings and models in human enquiry.
    4. Clearly and persuasively present their own viewpoint regarding that epistemic role.

    Indicative Assessment

    Short writing exercise 1, 1000 words, 20% (Learning Outcomes 1 & 2)

    Short writing exercise 2, 1000 words, 20% (Learning Outcomes 1 & 2)

    Essay, 2000 words, 40%  (Learning Outcomes 3 & 4)

    Tutorial participation, 20% (Learning Outcomes 1-4)

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    130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
    a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities.
    b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

    Requisite and Incompatibility

    To enrol in this course you must have previously completed 6 units of Philosophy (PHIL) courses, or with permission of the convenor.


    Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

    Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
    If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

    Student Contribution Band:
    Unit value:
    6 units

    If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

    Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

    Units EFTSL
    6.00 0.12500
    Domestic fee paying students
    Year Fee
    2023 $3960
    International fee paying students
    Year Fee
    2023 $5100
    Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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