Writing Science Fiction: World Building

Designing the final frontier

Start building your science fiction world in this free course, hosted by Ian Nettleton. All stories need good settings but science fiction has its own unique and particular needs, whether you're writing in the past, an alternative present or the far future. This course guides you through classic sci-fi settings and explores ways to craft your own.

By the end of the course you'll know:

  • How to use your setting to reflect and reveal your characters
  • How to use the mundane to your advantage
  • The difference between world building and exposition
  • What separates after the catastrophe from enclosed habitats
  • Why verisimilitude is key to any science fiction story


Meet your tutor

Your Instructor

Ian Nettleton
Ian Nettleton

Ian Nettleton is from the north of England but he has lived in Norwich for two decades. His novelette, Falling Star, was published in a science fiction anthology, Angles, in 2008 and his novel, The Last Migration, was runner-up in the inaugural Bath Novel Award 2014 and runner-up in the inaugural Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award 2014. He is represented by Sue Armstrong of the Conville and Walsh literary agency. He has a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of East Anglia and teaches creative writing at the Open University (undergraduate and MA) and the University of East Anglia. He is currently editing a literary thriller set in Queensland, Australia, called Out of Nowhere.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
This is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish and you can go through it at any speed.
How long do I have access to the course?
After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What do I need?
This course is entirely free. All you need to do is sign up for a free account and you'll get instant access to the entire course. You can access it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile.
How long is the course?
We've designed this course to take between 1 and 2 weeks. As a self-paced course it's up to you how quickly you progress through the material - you can binge it in a weekend or spread it out over a month.

Get started now!

Photo by NASA on Unsplash