GENS4015 Brave New World: Science Fiction, Science Fact and the Future


Dr Maria Cunningham

Course Coordinator: 

Dr Maria Cunningham

Course Description : 

This wholly Internet-delivered course aims to give a big picture overview of the physical sciences at the dawn of the 21st century and beyond. The most common interface between the general public and science is often through science fiction; hence, science fiction is used as a teaching aid to stimulate student interest and as a starting point from which to communicate the science, and its likely future development. This course also examines the interaction between science and society, encouraging students to consider how culture influences science and vice versa. This course aims to provide students with the level of scientific and technological literacy required to take an informed part in debate on important scientific issues.


No prior scientific or mathematical knowledge is assumed. In fact, we aim to provide you with this basic knowledge in this course.

The areas covered are: the physics of space and time; astronomy; space travel and exploration; astrobiology: life in the Universe; computers & robotics, artificial intelligence & human intelligence; the future of the human race; the future of planet Earth, including an examination of the physics of climate change; a brief look at the place of physics in popular culture is included.

Course Structure: 

For the course outline for 2020 please see here

Photo of Maria Cunningham
Senior Lecturer

Maria Cunningham

Postgraduate Student

Giulia Santucci

Photo of Sarah Martell
Scientia Associate Professor

Sarah Martell