Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) MA
The Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) MA is accredited by Skillset, the Creative Industries' Sector Skills Council.
Creatively stimulating, challenging, and above all practical, this innovative two-year course provides a supportive and thought-provoking environment for playwrights and screenwriters to explore their ideas, develop their craft, and finish a full-length work to a high standard.
Why this is the MA for playwrights and screenwriters
- Skillset accredited
- Taught and run by professional working writers
- Multi-form: you will write drama for film, television & theatre increasing your employability on graduation
- Intensively taught: six hours a week of classes in year one
- You are mentored by a professional working playwright or screenwriter for the whole of Year Two
- You will have an extract of your work directed by an experienced working director and performed by professional actors
- Top guest speakers: the biggest names in the worlds of film, television and theatre visit the course
- Your calling card: you graduate having written a full-length play or screenplay
Watch this YouTube playlist and hear what our students says about MA Playwriting & Screenwriting
N.B. Students on this course are eligible to apply for the BAFTA Scholarship Programme. Successful applicants receive £10,000, a BAFTA industry mentor and free access to UK BAFTA events for a year, plus a paid work placement at Warner Bros.
Scholarship opportunities will be available for UK/EU and international students looking to study postgraduate courses in the School of Arts & Social Sciences starting in September 2016.
You will usually have an honours degree, in any subject. Successful completion of a certificate course in creative writing, professional qualifications or relevant experience, such as acting or directing may also be acceptable. The prime criteria are proven ability and commitment to completing a play or screenplay.
You will be required to submit a writing sample which is a 20 page play, screenplay or radio play extract and to attend an interview as part of the application process (international applicants may be interviewed by telephone).
Other Suitable Qualifications
Mature students are encouraged to apply. If in doubt about your qualifications please contact us before applying.
For students whose first language is not English an IELTS score of at least 7.0 is required (with 7.0 in the writing component).
Please note that due to changes in the UKVI's list of SELTs we are no longer able to accept TOEFL as evidence of English language for students who require a CAS as of April 2014.
If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.
The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course; there are different rules for:
- Students on courses of more than 6 months
- Students on courses of less than 6 months
- Students on a pre-sessional English Language course
Please note: If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City University London courses on a part-time basis.
For more information see our main Visa page.
- Start Date:
- September 2016
- Two years full-time. Classes are run in the evening to enable you to combine work and study, so this MA is particularly suitable for those in full-time employment.
In the first year you acquire a critical understanding of classic and contemporary plays and films from the writer's point of view, and an in-depth practical knowledge of playwriting and screenwriting. There are also specialist sessions on writing for radio and television drama. No single style or genre is prescribed; the ethos of the programme is excellence and diversity. The course is suitable for writers with some experience who want to develop their practice and ideas and work in the industry.
In the second year you choose to write either a full length play, or screenplay, or a pilot for an original television series (along with the series "bible" and synopses for several episodes). In addition to completing a full length play or script, you participate in workshops taught by practising screenwriters and playwrights, and have the opportunity to work with actors and to experience a professional script development process. There will be a showcase of work at the end of the programme to which industry professionals and advisory board members are invited.
Read the full programme specification.
Teaching and Assessment
Teaching is based around a mix of practical workshops, seminars and lectures. All this is supported by one-to-one tutorials and by independent study: notably reading and preparing presentations on set texts and performing set writing exercises. As the course progresses, the emphasis shifts to independent study and is supported by workshops and one-to-one tutorials.
Central to all three Creative Writing MA courses is the requirement to finish a full-length novel, memoir, play or screenplay. The course culminates in a showcase of your work to an audience of industry professionals and other interested parties.
Phil is Programme Director. Phil wrote and co-directed the feature film Vampire Diary (2007) which won Best Film at the Milan International Film Festival and three other major awards. Phil also wrote the feature films Spirit Trap (2005) and The Harpist (1998).
Phil has worked as a TV screenwriter for BBC, Channel 5, ITV and Sky TV, writing over thirty hours of produced TV drama. His stageplay Playing for England was on at the the King's Head Theatre, Islington in 2006. Phil has also directed TV drama for the BBC and the film The Crane, starring Jude Law, for the British Film Institute. Phil has won the UK Film Council '25 words or less' £10,000 screenwriting award, the Tours Film Festival special drama prize, the documentary film prize Toronto and the Virgin Atlantic Travel Film Award. Phil has lectured on screenwriting at Birkbeck College, London South Bank University, the City Literary Institute and many film schools. He is currently the External Examiner in screenwriting at Birkbeck College and the University of Bournemouth, and formerly was External Examiner at Bedfordshire University. He is a member of the film committee of the Writers Guild of Great Britain. Phil O'Shea's research area is screenwriting in the digital era.
Barbara's plays include Souvenirs on Radio 4 in 2011 with Katherine Parkinson (see image on the left) and Ivan Marevich. A short stage version of Souvenirs was performed by The Factory theatre company at Hampstead Theatre in 2009 and published in Brand literary magazine.
She was awarded an Arts Council grant to develop Babylon. She has worked as a playwright with leading theatre companies including Birmingham Rep, Hampstead Theatre and Pentabus and has been involved in cabaret, storytelling and performance projects as a writer and/or co-producer. She has also published poetry and was shortlisted for the International Arvon poetry competition. She has been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship to support her writing. She is currently developing plays for theatre and radio.
Barbara teaches part-time on the plays and screenplays MA. She has also worked as a journalist and theatre reviewer.
Dr. Terry Bailey
Terry is a writer and media academic. He is currently co-writing two television pilots, one for a production company in London, the other for a production company in Vancouver, Canada. Terry has worked as a television producer/director, both in his native Canada and for the BBC, and has served as a judge for the International Emmy Awards. His play, Grave Men, Near Death, was staged last year. Academically, Terry ran the MA in Scriptwriting at Aberystwyth University for ten years. His most recent articles can be found in the Television Genre Book, 3rd Edition (ed. Glen Creeber), and in the Journal of Screenwriting, 5.2. Terry's paper on the Origins of the Cinematic Three Act Structure was delivered at the Screenwriting Research Network Conference last September.
Barbara is a professional scriptwriter and script editor. She has worked on numerous TV series for both adults and children, including Wycliffe, Dangerfield, 99-1, Love Hurts, I Was a Rat!, Bootleg and the multi-award-winning Pig Heart Boy. She won a BAFTA for Best Adapted Script in 2005 for the children's drama Wipe Out.
Penny is a writer and dramaturg/director/producer working in theatre, television, film and radio. Her recent stage plays include The President's Holiday (Hampstead) and When We Are Rich (Nuffield). Recent radio plays include A Chaos of Wealth and Want and Three Days that Shook the World (both BBC Radio 4).
She has undertaken literary/dramaturgical work for a wide range of theatres including the RSC, Soho Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Kali and the Nuffield Theatre where she was literary manager. For BBC TV she was a script editor and later producer. For ten years she was Commissioning Editor for BBC Radio Drama. A keen-eyed talent-spotter, she loves working with new writers.
Lisa is a director, dramaturg and writer. She was Artistic Director and joint Chief Executive of Soho Theatre (2006-10) and the Red Room (1995-2006). She has dramaturged a huge range of plays, which together have been nominated for or won every UK play writing award. Her book The No Rules Handbook for Writers was published by Oberon Books in 2012 and was an Amazon Kindle No 1 bestseller. She has directed plays at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, the Soho Theatre, and the Red Room. Lisa also commissioned and produced for the Royal Court. Lisa's work as a playwright includes Hoxton Story, Discover my Dream, A Couple of Poor, Polish-Speaking Romanians (co-translated with Paul Sirett for the Soho Theatre); The Diaries of Hannah Cullwick (adaptation- writer in Residence Essex University); Flying Colours (Travelling Light Tour); and On the Bridge (Oval House Theatre). Lisa has taught at RADA, Essex University and Goldsmiths, and facilitated international dramaturgy in Iran, Turkey, Norway, Japan, South Korea, US, Sweden, Finland, France, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Ireland.
Jim is a graduate of The National Film and Television School. He is a writer and director of popular television drama and is perhaps best known as the co-creator of the successful series Boon. He has worked on many prime time television series as both a director & writer including Casualty, Pie in The Sky, Minder, Lovejoy and The Bill.
Jim has worked abroad for Fremantle Media (Grundy) in Mallorca, France, Germany, Hungary and Finland as a script consultant and story-liner, establishing and training story teams on daily serial dramas. Jim is 1st year tutor MA Television Scriptwriting at De Montfort University (Leicester), and he lectures at the National Film and Television School and is the external examiner for the MA and BA script modules at Sheffield Hallam.
David is a professional playwright and dramaturg, and has been a Literary Associate to established London and regional new writing companies such as Soho Theatre & Writers' Centre and Theatre and Beyond in Brighton. He has been a workshop leader and script reader for various companies including The Royal Court, Hampstead Theatre, The Gate, Old Vic New Voices, Polka Theatre, New Writing South and ACT Productions.
He has acted as a dramaturg and researcher to both commissioned and developing writers from the National Theatre (Mark Ravenhill), BBC Radio 4 (Ed Harris), Royal Court Theatre (Ali Taylor, Robin French), Southwark Playhouse (Peter Elkins) and the joint winner of the International Playwriting Festival (Hannah Ashwell).
Karen Lee Street
Karen Lee Street has worked in the film industry for almost twenty years as a script analyst/ editor, development executive and trainer. She was head of development at the European Script Fund (MEDIA Programme, European Commission), the largest film and television script development agency in Europe and co-developer of numerous award-winning films. She headed Second Stage funding and assisted writers and producers in 18 countries with the development of their projects. She also created the first pan-European script analysis service and her prototype script analysis report has been adopted by numerous funding bodies, educational institutions, and consultants in Europe.
Karen subsequently worked in Los Angeles as a script editor and screenwriter on several projects, spent a year in Copenhagen as programme manager of screenwriting training programmes for professional writers, and two years heading the screenwriting department (international programme, MA Film Arts) at the Baltic Film and Media School, Tallinn University. She continues to consult for the Media programme as national/transnational adviser and to work as a freelance script consultant for a number of European producers, funding bodies, and training organisations. She is on the management and selection committees of the Tipping Point Film Fund, a funder of documentary films about international social justice issues. Karen is also a published novelist, produced screenwriter, and a member of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain and the Society of Authors.
Philip is a screenwriter, radio dramatist, novelist and producer. His screen credits include The Many Lives of Albert Walker, Rebus and The Bill. For radio, his plays include The King's Coiner starring Ian McDiarmid, Blame, The Faerie Queen, and two series of Red and Blue starring Tim Woodward. As a writer of SF novels he is responsible for considerable galactic carnage; his five books published by Orbit US & UK are Debatable Space, Red Claw, Version 43, Hellship and Artemis. Philip is the founder of Afan Films, whose projects include the Welsh film noir Inferno.
For the last seven years he has had a part time role as a lecturer at the London Film School on the MA Screenwriting course. He has also worked as a lecturer at the NFTS, Bournemouth University, Leeds Metropolitan University, York University, and as an adjunct Professor at the University of Seton Hill, Pennsylvania.
Paul is a playwright and dramaturg. As a playwright his work includes the Olivier-nominated Ska musical The Big Life which opened at Stratford East in 2004 and had two successful runs there before transferring to the West End in 2005. Paul has a long association with the Theatre Royal Stratford East where productions of his plays include: Bad Blood Blues; A Night in Tunisia; Worlds Apart; Crusade; and Jamaica House.
Productions elsewhere include Paul's adaptation of Shawn Levy's book Rat Pack Confidential for Nottingham Playhouse and Bolton Octagon, which transferred to the West End in 2003; Ghosts in the Gallery (Polka Theatre); Running the Silk Road (Yellow Earth Theatre); Lush Life (Live Theatre, Newcastle); A Couple of Poor Polish-Speaking Romanians (Soho Theatre, translation with Lisa Goldman); This Other Eden (Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh); and Skaville (Soho Theatre and Edinburgh).
Awards include: Best Play, Pearson (Worlds Apart); Best Production, City Life (Rat Pack Confidential); Best Comedy, London Fringe/Time Out (This Other Eden) and nominations for TMA, Evening Standard and Olivier awards (The Big Life). Paul has also won two Best Writer awards for his radio plays at the New York International Radio Festival.
Paul has worked extensively as a dramaturg, having been Literary Manager at Soho Theatre and Dramaturg at the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as working as a freelance dramaturg on numerous projects.
Paul has taught playwriting and dramaturgy at a number of universities and drama schools including RADA, Rose Bruford, Central, Warwick University, Essex University, Goldsmiths, Oxford University, Cambridge University and Yale. Paul is an Associate Teacher of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
The course has strong ties with leading playwrights and screenwriters. Recent visiting speakers include Richard Bean, Alan Bennett, Ronan Bennett, J Blakeson, Adam Brace, Laurence Coriat, Rib Davies, Martha Fiennes, Stuart Hazeldine, Olivia Hetreed, Mike Leigh, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Patrick Marber, Paul Mayeda Berges, Anthony Neilson, Diane Samuels, Sue Teddern, Colin Teevan, Roy Williams and John Yorke.
You will have the opportunity to meet agents, producers, and directors. Recent guests have included Matthew Bates, Matthew Dench, Tony Garnett, Nick Marston, Margaret Matheson, Jeremy Mortimer, George Perrin, David Thompson, Tessa Walker, Mervyn Watson, Anthea Williams and screenwriting author Linda Aronson.
Read the full programme specification.
- Full-time EU: £6,000 per year
- Full-time Non EU: £7,750 per year
For up-to-date information about tuition fees, living costs and financial support, visit Postgraduate Fees and Finance.
Future Finance Loans
- Students on this course are eligible to apply for the BAFTA Scholarship Programme. Successful applicants receive £10,000, a BAFTA industry mentor and free access to UK BAFTA events for a year, plus a paid work placement at Warner Bros.
- Scholarship opportunities will be available for UK/EU and international students looking to study postgraduate courses in the School of Arts & Social Sciences starting in September 2016.
MA Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) graduates' achievements and work performed
- Graduate Pauline Radley has a ten minute play performed at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, as part of the Capability Brown celebrations.
- Graduate Aisha Zia received a grant from Brookleaze and her new play Besieged is on at the Arcola Theatre.
- Graduate Dianna Hunt’s graduation play has been programmed in the Talawa Arts Festival.
- First year student Natalie Ekberg’s play Diversifications was showcased by Page to Stage.
- First year student Elaine Clayton’s short script Pop Goes the Question was optioned by a film-maker based in New Jersey. Elaine also came second in a Player-Playwright’s play competition on dystopia. And a short film she wrote The Christmas Spirit won two US student awards.
- First year student Natalie Beech’s short play Collegiate was part of a short play evening at the Arcola Theatre.
- Three Graduates Mark Hibbert, Emma Morgan and Nikki Racklim showcased 6 new short plays in the University Performance Space in March.
- Graduate Lars T Moen had his graduation screenplay Ant Farm optioned by US Company Cranium Entertainment.
- Graduate Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor produced the short film House Girl.
- Graduate Tracy Mathewson crowd-funded the budget for her short film Appellation.
- Graduate Nagwa Malik has had a new book The Mist Stage Two: The Culmination published on Smashwords.
- Graduate Cheryl White’s films include Before Babel (2013) which won Best Short at the Kent and Rye Film Festival International film festival 2015; Winner of Best Film and Most Innovative Film at WOW Festival 2014.
- Graduate Vickie Donoghue has a short play Weaklings coming up in a programme of new plays at the Sheffield Crucible in June.
- Graduate Natalie Stan’s play After the Blue was on at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London in January. It was produced by MA graduate Matilda Velevitch.
- Graduate Annalisa D’Innella’s play for Radio 4, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, was selected as The Radio Times Critic’s Choice and is currently long listed for The Imison Award 2016. Her original screenplay Paper Flowers has been awarded a Media Development Grant.
- Recent graduate Louisa Hayford won a place on the ITV Coronation Street Original Voices scheme which includes a ten week paid internship in the Coronation Street story department.
- First student Matilda Ibini wrote a short play for Sphinx Theatre’s ‘Women Centre Stage’ Festival which was performed at the National Theatre.
- Graduate Aisha Zia had extracts from her play “No Guts, no Glory” screened on BBC4. The play won the Scotland Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014. It is due to tour in 2016. It has been published by Oberon Books. Aisha is under commission to Contact Theatre in Manchester and the National Youth theatre. She is now represented by Knight Hall agency.
- Graduate Sam Hall’s play “My Mind is Free” has been touring South East England.
- Graduate Nikki Racklin wrote the libretto for the opera about Ruth Ellis “Love Me To Death” which was on at the Barbican Centre. Nikki is now represented by Berlin Associates.
- Madicken Malm’s play “Victory” was performed at Theatre 503.
- A group of recent graduates had a joint production 'LONDON CALLING performed at the Hen and Chickens as part of the Camden Fringe Festival.
- Tracy Mathewson’s latest production “Happy Girl” was performed at the Edinburgh Festival.
- Graduate Joyce Lee had an extract of her play ‘Orchids’ performed at the Bush Theatre and the entire play was given a staged reading at the Tristan Bates theatre. She is also developing plays with Yellow Earth Theatre with the Papergang Theatre Company.
- Second year student Alexander Pyke’s play, Son Of Man, is on at the Bread and Roses theatre in Clapham from 26th May to 13th June at 7.30pm.
- Graduate Nick Harrison’s play ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’ – a site-specific historical two-hander about Marc Brunel and his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was performed in Rotherhithe, south-east London inside the Thames Tunnel .
- Graduate Charlotte Jennings play “Strangers Welcome” was performed at The Tabard Theatre in Chiswick.
- First year student Ian Fletcher’s play STIGMA was performed at the Arundel Festival.
- Matilda Ibini's play Muscovado is going on a nationwide tour which starts in Theatre 503 London on Feb 24th- 7th March 2015.
- Graduate Aisha Zia's play No Guts, No Heart, No Glory will be on at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank in March 2015 as part of the Women of the World festival
- Seven of our Graduates are staging a Valentine's Production "The Sexy Seven" at the Etcetera Theatre on "Valentine's Weekend" (13-15 February 2015). It consists of seven short plays on a "sexy" theme and is written by seven City MA graduates.
- Graduate Raul Molina's play "The Dinner" will be on at The Vault in Waterloo (Feb 25th - March 1st 2015)
- Graduate Nick Harrison has a play 'The Devil to Pay on Brook Street' is on at 'Handel House' in central London 20th Feb - March 1st 2015.
- Dianna Hunt's MA graduation play 'Mona's Room' was selected for inclusion in the Arcola Theatre's new writing festival in January 2015
- Kate Hall is a story producer on BBC1’s Holby City.
- Graduate Aisha Zia's play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' won the 2014 Scotsman Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival, was shortlisted for the Amnesty Prize, and has been performed at the Commonwealth Theatre in Manchester. It has just been published by Oberon books, and Aisha Zia has been invited on to Radio 4 a number of times to talk about it.
- Second year student Ness Lyons had a play she wrote for the MA performed at the Arcola Theatre in Nov 2014, and her play 'Charity Reality' has been published by Amazon in an E-book anthology.
- Graduate Nick Myles' MA play "Tom and Jerry, a love story" was performed at the Drayton Arms in November 2014, and his show "Mistaken: A Quartet of Plays for One Actor" was performed at the Etcetera Theatre.
- Graduate Tracy Mathewson's play "Teenage Dirtbag" was premiered at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival.
- Student Kiran Benawra had her play "Mates"performed at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
- Graduate Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor's play "Sunday" was on at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in June 2014.
- Graduate Lorraine Mullaney had her university graduation play "Unclouded Moon" performed at the Brighton Fringe festival in May 2014.
- Graduates Nazish Kahn and Sophie Foster had their plays "Pole Factor" and "Project Lolita" performed at the Vault Festival in Waterloo in Feb 2014.
- Graduate Aisha Zia was one of the co-writers of "Our Glass House" which was performed in Camden in Now 2013.
- Student Mark Hibbert was nominated for the "Best Comedy" and "New Writing" awards at the Buxton Fringe Awards in Nov 2013.
- Graduate Hannah Rodger's play "Happy Never After" was one of nine plays by City graduates and students performed in the 2013 Edinburgh festival. The others included Tracy Mathewson "Broadway Baby", Aisha Zia "Our Glass House" (winner of the Amnesty Award), Henry Carr "Luke and Harry's Journey to Sex Colony", Nazish Kahn "Pole Factor", Sophie Foster "Project Lolita", Mark Hibbert "Total Hero Team", and Tracy McFall "Synergy"
- Graduate Raul Molina's play The Last Hour of Antigone was on at the Camden People's Theatre in May 2013.
- Mudlarks by Vickie Donoghue (class of 2009)
Bush Theatre, 18 September - 20 October 2012
- Labalaba by Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (class of 2009, co-writer and producer)
Wazobia Lounge at Africa Village, 30 July 2012
- Front by Vickie Donoghue (class of 2009)
John Gielgud Theatre, 7 July 2012
- MEAT by Brian Eley (class of 2010)
Theatre 503, 25 June 2012
- Mudlarks by Vickie Donoghue (class of 2009)
Theatre 503, 29 May - 2 June 2012
- Across Kenya by Chris Howarth (class of 2007)
Roxy Bar & Grill, 27 May 2012
- The Art of Concealment by Giles Cole (class of 2011)
Riverside Studios, 1 - 20 May 2012
- Canasta by Nick Myles (class of 2010)
REDfest at Red Lion Theatre, 17 April - 12 May 2012
- Our Glass House by Aisha Zia (class of 2010)
Commonwealth Theatre, 18 - 29 April 2012
- Brierley Thorpe's MA play won the International Playwriting Competition at Croydon Warehouse and was a runner up in the Bruntwood Playwriting Prize
- Lydia Adetunji's MA screenplay was selected for the Brit List, a list of the UK's best unproduced screenplays. Her play The Fixer was produced at the High Tide Festival. Other short plays have been produced by Paines Plough theatre company and the Young Vic
- Alexandra Denye was a runner up in the BBC's Alfred Bradley radio playwriting award
- Grant Corr's MA play has been produced by Icarus Theatre Company at the Old Red Lion theatre
- Heather Taylor co-wrote the screenplay for The Last Thakur, screened at the London Film Festival in 2008
- Harry Otto Brunjes has written, directed and produced the feature film La Bella Figura.
Find out more about City University London
Places are limited and we strongly recommend that you apply as early as possible, as applications will close when the course is full.
MA Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting)
Please note, you can apply either in hard copy by post or online. Please follow the instructions below carefully.
How to apply
To apply for a place on the MA in Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting), you must submit the following:
- One application form. You can download a pdf version of the application form or apply online by following the links below.
- An explanation in no more than 200 words of why you think you would benefit from the course. Please write this in the "Statement in Support of Application" section of the application form.)
- A sample of your creative writing: please submit a 20-page play or screenplay extract. Applications won't be considered without a writing sample.
Please ensure that your name is on every page and that the work is a copy as it cannot be returned. Either submit your writing sample with your postal application, attach a Word document to your online application, or email your writing sample
Your application will be processed as soon as it is received, and you may be invited to attend an interview if you are shortlisted. (International students may be interviewed on the phone.)
Please note: Academic references are not required when you submit your application. However, the admissions tutor may request them at a later date to help make a decision on your application.
Please return your application form and/or supporting documents, marked "Postgraduate Applications 2016", to:
Centre for Creative Writing
City University London