Course Title: Science Fiction - Science Fact

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Science Fiction - Science Fact

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017

Course Coordinator: Professor Dougal McCulloch

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3391

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

No enforced requisites.

To succeed in this course, knowledge of secondary school mathematics is required.


Course Description

From Jules Verne to Star Trek, science fiction has proven to be remarkably prescient in developing new technologies, and shaping attitudes towards that technology. You will also study why certain predictions did not come true. This course uses ideas from science fiction to inform and educate you about key concepts in science and technology in a non-mathematical way. You will explore not only the limits imposed by physics, but also some of the ways that science fiction has inspired ways to beat those limits. Examples include teleportation, quantum computing, time travel and warp drives. 

This course will enable you to better understand the role of science and technology in shaping the future, gain an understanding of the scientific process, recognise the importance of multidisciplinary research teams for solving some of the society’s biggest technological challenges, and help them take their place in Designing the Future.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course is a university elective. It contributes to any Program Learning Outcomes related to breadth of knowledge  

After successfully completing this course you will:

  1. Understand the role of scientific progress in modern and future society.
  2. Be aware of the scientific principles behind key concepts in science fiction.
  3. Have improved critically analysis and communication skills.


Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities in this course will include:

• Lectures on key scientific principles behind popular ideas used in science fiction.
• Demonstrations and activities that reinforce the key concepts introduced in the lectures.
• Private study, working through the theory as presented in course material, available texts and notes.
• Tutorial/test questions designed to probe an understanding of presented concepts, and to give feedback on student progress and understanding.

Total Study Hours

72 hours. Two (2) hours per week face to face lectures plus four (4) hours per week private study/project work. 

Face-to-Face : 12 x 1.5 hour seminars (lecture/discussion/video) on primary topic areas.

Overview of Learning Resources

By participating in this course you will be expected to download a copy of the course material from myRMIT and have access to the library and internet for research and/or video resources. A list of useful website links and library resources will be provided.

Overview of Assessment

Note that:

☒This course has no hurdle requirements.

☐ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

On-going Assessment Task: On-line tests on each major topic.

Each test has equal weight.

Weighting: 55%

This assessment task supports CLO 1. 

Final Assignment: Essay on a topic/idea from science fiction. 

Weighting: 45%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1,2,3.