Module Catalogue 2019/20

HIS3328 : Imagined Futures

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Luc Racaut
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module explores the history of the future, the time when in Europe, people began looking forward to the future, rather than back to a bygone golden age. This implies a shift from a circular conception of time to a linear one. Looking forward to the future, the idea of progress is currently in crisis not least due to pessimistic diagnosis of global warming. It is useful to think about the history of the future, its intellectual genesis in the Early Modern period (16th to 18th century) and what the future has meant for European cultures in the 19th and 20th century in order to understand current cultural developments. The module will explore scientific optimism as well as the emergence of utopias and dystopias as models for the development of modern society.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following is a guide only. Actual subjects may differ from those listed.

1a Introduction: The History of the Future                  
1b Inventing the Future
2a Prophecy: prehistory of the future                        
2b Latent futures: legacies of the Scientific Revolution      

3a 18th century: the rise of progress                        
3b Early representations of the future

4a 19th century: The socialist utopia Marx / Lafarge            
4b Technological enthusiasms                  

5a 19th century utopian elements      
5b The ‘Look’ of the new: early 20th century design

6a The European avant-garde
6b Science fiction as a predictive genre

7a 1930s politics and visions of the future                  
7b The Second World War and technological progressivism      

8a 1950s: Extrapolating rapid change                        
8b 1960s utopian architecture            

9a 1960s: The age of rockets                              
9b Social experiments revisited

10a 1970s: No Future                        
10b Industrial dystopias

11a The rise of dystopias                                    
11b Post-modern Utopias                                    

12a Review: What future for the future?                        
12b Review: Analytical themes

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

This module aims to:
1) Provide an opportunity to acquire a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely and
critically in the primary and secondary literature associated with it and to develop the capacity for
independent study.      
2) Provide an opportunity of investigating in some depth selected problems, including the appraisal of
selected source material and the critical examination of current historiography.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Development of capacity for independent study and critical judgement and of the ability to respond
promptly, cogently and clearly to new and unexpected questions arising from this study.
Development of associated skills in research, critical reading and reasoning, sustained discussion
and appropriate presentation of the results.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study541:0054:001/3 of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Seminars encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1802A75N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M25Essay/documentary commentary of 1,500 - 2,000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Exams test acquisition of a clear general knowledge of the subject plus the ability to think and analyse a problem quickly, to select from and to apply both the general knowledge and detailed knowledge of aspects of the subject to new questions, problem-solving skills, adaptability, the ability to work unaided and to write clearly and concisely.

Documentary commentary exercises and examinations test knowledge and understanding of the texts set for the module. The ability to compare and contrast related source texts on a common subject. The ability to expound and criticise a textual extract lucidly, succinctly and with relevance in a relatively brief space, and, in an exam, under pressure of time.

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress.
Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.
All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.