World-building ENGLIT5129

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • 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

Short Description

In the popular culture of the twenty-first century, imagined worlds are ubiquitous. Billion-dollar franchises rely on audience mass-competence in a shared world - but so do works of speculative nonfiction, of realism, and even of science. On this course, we explore a range of so-called 'secondary' worlds in order better to understand their relationships with each other, with literary criticism, and with the 'primary' world in which we all live. The course includes opportunities to create your own world, first in groups (formatively) and then individually (for summative credit) - however, it is not a creative writing class and credit is given for critical reflection on the world-building process rather than for the 'quality' of the world itself.


10 x 2-hour seminars, over 11 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses





World-Building Portfolio - 2000wds (40%) A short (c.500wd) description of a world the student has themselves built, illustrated if necessary, together with a longer (c.1,500wd) reflection on the process in the light of primary and secondary reading on the course. Though creative in some senses, this is not a creative writing assignment in the sense that the student's imagination or expression is being judged - rather, the assignment rewards careful reflection on what has been learned about the wider subject from a creative vantage point.

Essay - 3000wds (60%) A traditional academic essay on some element of world-building, the topic itself chosen by the student (in consultation with seminar leader).

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Introduce students to 'world-driven' ways of reading literature.

■ Make questions of world-building tangible through practical attempts at creating worlds, both collaboratively and individually.

■ Equip students to analyse built worlds and to use the tools of world-building alongside other literary critical principles.

■ Encourage students to notice, to forge, and to interrogate connections between created worlds and the one in which we live.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Apply an advanced understanding of world-building in literary texts using literary-critical techniques.

■ Reflect critically upon the creative processes implied by world-building, thinking from the perspectives of authors, readers, fans, and critics.

■ Compose their own research agendas and lucidly communicate the academic results.

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.