Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it

We are currently fully booked for Out of This World workshops but there are some slots available for self-directed visits between 12-1.30pm and after 3pm.


Suitable for: Year 7-11 and A Level

Available: Monday to Friday from 20 May until 25 September 2011

Length: 90 minutes

Group size: minimum 10, maximum 30 per session

Subjects and Key Skills

English, Art and Design, Media Studies, Sociology, Philosophy, History and Science.

Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it

In this exhibition science fiction is revealed not just as a literary genre but as a way of looking at the world and exploring alternative ideas about science, politics, society, the future... and the nature of reality itself. Writers and artists through history have long explored these ideas, imagining other worlds and asking themselves 'big questions' such as:

  • What does it mean to be human?
  • Are we alone?
  • What is reality?
  • Is there such a thing as a perfect world?
  • What are we doing to our world?

Find out what compelled story-makers to examine these questions and who led the way in this fascinating journey of exploration.

The exhibition will include a selection of classic science fiction texts alongside unexpected exhibits that challenge our understanding of the genre, showing how it embraces many works of utopian and speculative fiction that we may not consider to be science fiction, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, George Orwell’s 1984 and Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time-Traveller’s Wife.

Visit us and enter alien worlds, parallel worlds, virtual worlds and the world of the future. Explore a range of imaginings which have provoked hopes and dreams, exhilaration and fear and see how science fiction has influenced scientific discovery.

Workshop outline

Free workshops exploring Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it are available for Secondary and FE students. Workshops support and enrich the curriculum helping participants to develop skills in research, critical thinking and visual literacy. These cross-curricular workshops will take place in the exhibition space and enable students to engage with the theme of science fiction through literature, illustration, film and sound.

Secondary groups will begin by asking: what is science fiction? As students explore the exhibition, they will discuss the philosophical, moral and political questions raised by science fiction and look at the historical context in which these texts were produced. Through dialogue, creative activities and object-based learning, students will begin to develop an understanding of science fiction as a genre and discuss the ways in which it influences our cultural mindset.

Also suitable for A Level students…

We offer study days for Year 12 and Year 13 students. These day-long sessions are aimed at English students and provide students with a deeper engagement with the exhibition and its key themes and an opportunity to meet experts in the field. The day will include a workshop in the exhibition, a curator talk and a creative writing workshop. To find out more or to make a booking, please email learning@bl.uk.

Teacher Events

A free CPD event linked to Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it is available for Secondary and FE teachers. For more information, visit our Conferences page.

Ready to book?

Watch a short video about your visit to the British Library   How to book