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CWR3001 Writing Speculative Fiction

Semester 1, 2019 Online
Short Description: Writing Speculative Fiction
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities & Communication
Student contribution band : Band 1
ASCED code : 100799 - Communication and Media Studie
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Maria Arena


Pre-requisite: CWR1001 Writing Good Prose and CWR2001 Fairytales and Other Forms


This course is part of the Creative and Critical Writing major within the Bachelor of Arts program. The course will equip you with a range of skills required in the workforce, and in professional writing practice, including interpreting and responding to market submission guidelines, meeting deadlines, and writing to purpose. Students enrolled in the course will be invited to submit their work to the student-led USQ magazine.
This course contributes to your development of the Creative and Performing Arts Threshold Learning Outcomes, and USQ Graduate Capabilities.


Speculative fiction extends readers understanding of themselves and the world in which they live through imagining different worlds or cultures that are better (or worse), brighter (or darker) and stranger than our own. Works of speculative fiction hold a mirror up to our world, confronting and warping our assumptions about race, class, and sex/gender, but also reflecting and subverting various ways of knowing or describing the world. Inviting us to question our settled ideas about science and scientific enquiry, for example, or about faith and religiosity, language, light and even what it is to be alive (or dead!).

In this course, you will explore the genre of speculative fiction: a collective term for a range of different types of genre fiction that includes (but is not limited to) science fiction, fantasy, horror and alternative history. You will read and write speculative fiction works, focusing on short fiction, as well as engaging with contemporary debates within the vibrant, noisy and hugely energetic SF/F/H (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror) community.

During the course, you will be guided through the process of researching, pitching, writing and editing works of short fiction and non-fiction suitable for publication in professional speculative fiction markets.


On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. explore and apply the practices, languages, forms, materials and techniques used in writing speculative fiction essays and short fiction
  2. develop, research and evaluate ideas, concepts and processes through creative, critical and reflective thinking and practice
  3. apply relevant skills and knowledge to produce and realise works of speculative fiction
  4. interpret, communicate and present ideas, problems and arguments in modes suited to a range of audiences
  5. work independently and collaboratively to select and review contemporary works and markets, and to develop your own and others’ creative works
  6. recognise and reflect on social, cultural and ethical issues, and apply local and international perspectives to both the reading of, and the production of, essays and short fiction.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Fantasy 25.00
2. Science Fiction 25.00
3. Horror 25.00
4. Alternative History (Alt-History). 25.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

VanderMeer, J 2018, Wonderbook: the illustrated guide to creating imaginative fiction, Revised and expanded edn, Abrams, New York.
In addition to the VanderMeer text: a suite of set readings will be provided via the Study Desk during semester.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Students are advised to read a range of contemporary Australian and international speculative fiction publications during this course, in addition to the set readings. This will provide them with a broad and deep understanding of the markets for their work. A regularly updated list of suggested journals and magazines (and other markets for your work) will be provided on the Study Desk for the course.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Directed Study 39.00
Independent Study 126.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
FIRST SUBMISSION 40 40 23 Apr 2019
SECOND SUBMISSION 40 40 10 Jun 2019
WRITING WORKSHOP 20 20 10 Jun 2019

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    On-campus Attendance requirements: It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures and tutorials) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

    Online Attendance Requirements: There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students’ responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks for that item. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative items for the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    There is no examination in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Referencing in assignments must comply with the Harvard (AGPS) referencing system. This system should be used by students to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (APGS) style to be used is defined by the USQ library’s referencing guide. This guide can be found at

Evaluation and benchmarking

In meeting the University’s aims to establish quality learning and teaching for all programs, this course monitors and ensures quality assurance and improvements in at least two ways. This course:
1. conforms to the USQ Policy on Evaluation of Teaching, Courses and Programs to ensure ongoing monitoring and systematic improvement.
2. forms part of the Bachelor of Arts (Writing and Soceity) and is benchmarked against the:
o internal USQ accreditation/reaccreditation processes which include (i) stringent standards in the independent accreditation of its academic programs, (ii) close integration between business and academic planning, and (iii) regular and rigorous review.

Other requirements

  1. Computer, e-mail and Internet access:
    Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at .

  2. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in this course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect the same grades as those students who do possess them.