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Friday, 20 July, 2001, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Degree pushes final frontier
Sir Alec Guinness in Star Wars
The influence of Star Wars is universal
Amateur astronomer Martin Griffiths has reached the frontiers of space from within the confines of a lecture theatre by becoming the UK's first graduate in science fiction.

The 39 year old from Stanleytown, Rhondda, south Wales, received his first class BSc in Astronomy and Science Fiction from the University of Glamorgan.

The course is the only one of its type in the world

Dr Mark Brake

The qualification reflected physics and chemistry with the study of science fiction, looking at how it has been influenced by science.

Mr Griffiths spent hours reading classic SF by the likes of Arthur C Clarke and HG Wells and watching Star Trek and Star Wars.

He said he had used his scientific and astronomy knowledge to discover faults in the story lines.

Alien life

Mr Griffiths attended lectures on extra-terrestrials, UFOs and the search for alien life forms.

Other units on the course included American Marvel comics, computer games and blockbuster films such as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

His progress on the three-year course was a quantum leap ahead of expectations and he completed it in just two years.

"I loved doing the course because I've always been a big science fiction fan and it was right up my street," he said.

Author Arthur C Clarke
Course subject: Arthur C Clarke

"I am especially interested in the ideas of alien contact, the future of mankind and travel to the stars."

The University of Glamorgan launched the degree in 1999 and course leader Dr Mark Brake said Mr Griffiths had completed his degree with aplomb.

"The course is the only one of its type in the world," said Dr Brake.

"Martin took to the course as if he had captained a starship and I wasn't surprised when he got his degree in just two years.

"His interest in astronomy helped him to become an exceptional student and it was no surprise when he finished the course in two years."

More than 50 students are taking the degree and the university believes it can trigger more interest in science generally.

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