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School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

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MA Screenwriting
Specialist training designed to present a genuine gateway into the film and television industries.

MA Screenwriting / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course description

Application closing date: August 10, 2018.  

The only course of its kind offered by a Russell Group University, our MA in Screenwriting is an intensive one-year training programme designed to professionalise writers and present a genuine gateway into the film and television industries. Over the course of the year, students will work with leading industry practitioners to develop their screenwriting, pitching and story-breaking skills. By the end of the programme, each student will have developed a full length feature film screenplay, a pilot TV episode and two short films. Like all courses at the Centre for New Writing, this programme is taught by practitioners and as such it is vocationally-oriented and industry-focused. Students will have access to individual career guidance and training in how to navigate entry-level work in both the television and film industries.

The course includes regular speakers from the industry which last year included Beth Pattinson BBC Films ( Brooklyn, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Philomena ), Chris Chibnall (writer and creator of Broadchurch) and Pete Czernin, producer of In Bruges and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1 and 2).  

The course runs across two twelve week long semesters, during which students will attend weekly writing workshops in which they will study the very best of contemporary screenwriting, including shows such as Breaking Bad, True Detective, The Killing, Broadchurch, This is England, Rev, Transparency and The Sopranos. They will also cover British and American examples of charismatic film screenwriting from Goodfellas to The King's Speech via Alien .

In the second semester there will be a London industry day based at BAFTA with talks from agents, producers, and writers as well as a meeting with the BFI.

Students will study story design, visual story-telling and character arcs in both long-running television series and feature films. They will develop the tools to be able to analyse and critique screenwriting craft, and learn how to disseminate their own work. There will be weekly film screenings, and students will have access to an excellent lending library of films to watch at home. Through the duration of the course students will develop a broad and eclectic knowledge of cinema and television.

We intend to keep learning as specific to individual study as possible and study groups will be intentionally small in scale. The course capacity is limited to twelve students each year and you will be taught through a mixture of screenings, lectures and group discussion. Our `writers' room' ethos ensures an environment that encourages collaboration, sharing and creative risk-taking.

Importantly, each summer, we offer students a two week `hands-on' industry placement at a renowned film or TV production company either in London or the North West. Current partners include Film4 ( Room. Ex_Machina, The Lobster) , Wildgaze (Brooklyn) , Number 9 Films (Carol) , Left Bank (The Crown), Warp (This is England) , Red Productions ( Happy Valley, Scott and Bailey ), and  Hammer Films ( The Woman in Black , Let Me In ). These placements are an excellent opportunity for students to make useful contacts, and to develop a practical and direct understanding of the professional context within which screenwriters ply their trade.

Coursework and assessment

To complete the MA, students are required to take 180 credits in total. They will take two semesters of courses consisting of workshops/tutorials and seminars. There are 60 credits in the first semester and 30 in the second with 90 for the dissertation.

  • All writing workshops meet for three hours per week.
  • Workshops will help students add to their portfolio by including adaptations, scenes, draft scripts, script reports, and genre presentations. 
  • Each workshop is assessed by a portfolio which will include pitches, treatments, scenes, draft scripts, script reports and notes on how to progress a draft.
  • Seminars also meet for three hours per week.
  • Students will also be offered two individual half- to one-hour tutorials per semester in order to discuss the progress of their writing.

Over the summer students complete a 'dissertation' which consists of a final revised version of a full-length screenplay. This is worth 60 credits.

Course unit details

In both semesters all students take a weekly writing workshop and a parallel seminar on craft. Both are 3 hours long. All teaching takes place on Monday or Tuesday.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Dissertation (Screen Writing) ENGL70000 90 Mandatory
Story and the Journey of Change ENGL70701 30 Mandatory
The Calling Card Script and Television ENGL70712 30 Mandatory
Genre and Theme ENGL70801 30 Mandatory

Additional fee information

For entry in the academic year beginning September 2017, the tuition fees are as follows:
  • MA (full-time) UK/EU students (per annum): £9,750 International students (per annum): £17,000

The fees quoted above will be fully inclusive for the course tuition, administration and computational costs during your studies.

All fees for entry will be subject to yearly review and incremental rises per annum are also likely over the duration of courses lasting more than a year for UK/EU students (fees are typically fixed for International students, for the course duration at the year of entry). For general fees information please visit: postgraduate fees . Always contact the department if you are unsure which fee applies to your qualification award and method of attendance.

Self-funded international applicants for this course will be required to pay a deposit of £1000 towards their tuition fees before a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) is issued. This deposit will only be refunded if immigration permission is refused. We will notify you about how and when to make this payment.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: