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  1. Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting)
    1. 2017
Courses

Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting)

MA |
Most drama writers move between media so that's what we do; join us to learn about writing for theatre, film and television.

Key Information

Start date

October 2017

Duration

Full time: 2 years
(evenings only)

UK/EU

Full-time: £6,000 per year

Non-EU

Full-time: £7,750 per year

Who is it for?

Our Creative Writing programme is suitable for writers who want to develop their practice and complete a full length piece of work, or for experienced playwrights who wish to gain a familiarity with writing for the screen, or experienced screenwriters who wish to gain a grounding in theatre writing. It is also suitable for writers who while continuing with their own practice, will work in development roles in the film, TV, theatre and related industries such as literary agencies.

Our  programme has been designed, with input from a range of playwrights and screenwriters, to provide the optimum environment for students to complete a full length play or feature film script to a high standard.

As the programme is taught in the evening, we welcome applications from mature students with work and family commitments who are committed to writing a full length play or screenplay over two years.

Objectives

Creatively stimulating, challenging and above all practical, this innovative two-year Creative Writing programme taught during the evening, 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.

You will develop as a writer and sharpen your understanding of what's working and what isn't. No single style or genre is prescribed; the ethos of the programme is excellence and diversity. 

You will get to understand writing choices in the work of leading playwrights and screenwriters. You will work with actors and directors from London's new writing theatres, and receive guest talks from agents, producers and artistic directors.

By the end of the course, you will have taken a full-length play, screenplay or television pilot through a number of drafts, working as professional writers do. This play or screenplay will be your calling card. You will receive a performed reading of an extract of your work and a professional script report.

Accreditation

Icon reading Skillset with a grey check mark

The Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) MA is accredited by Skillset, the Creative Industries’ Sector Skills Council which means that students are eligible for the BAFTA Scholarship programme – successful applicants receive a bursary of up to £10,000, a BAFTA mentor, access to BAFTA events, plus a paid work placement at Warner Bros UK.

Requirements and how to apply

Entry requirements

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 or writing professionally may also be acceptable. The prime criteria are proven ability and commitment to completing a play or screenplay. Mature students are encouraged to apply. If in doubt about your qualifications please contact us before applying.

English requirements

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).

Visa requirements

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 six months
  • Students on courses of less than six months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City courses on a part-time basis.

For more information see our main Visa page.

How to apply

Applications for 2017 are now open.

You will be required to provide the following:

  1. One application form. You can download a pdf version of the application form or apply online by following the links below.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.

Application process

You may be invited to attend an interview or be interviewed by phone if you are shortlisted.

Application Deadline

You are advised to apply as soon as possible after applications open, however we usually have a rolling deadline up until the end of August for programmes commencing at the end of the following September.

Mentored
by a professional working playwright or screenwriter in year two
Performance
an extract of your work directed by an experienced director and performed by actors
Intensive
six hours of classes a week in year one

Funding

Explore up-to-date information about funding options, available financial support and typical living costs.

More about funding

For up-to-date information about tuition fees, living costs and financial support, visit Postgraduate Fees and Finance.

Future Finance Loans

Future Finance offers students loans of between £2,500 and £40,000 to help cover tuition fees and living expenses. All students and courses are considered. All loans are subject to credit checks and approval for further details please visit the City Finance website.

Scholarships

The Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) MA is accredited by Skillset, the Creative Industries’ Sector Skills Council which means that students are eligible for the BAFTA Scholarship programme – successful applicants receive a bursary of up to £10,000, a BAFTA mentor, access to BAFTA events, plus a paid work placement at Warner Bros UK.

Alumni views

Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) alumni, Jon Tilley

Watch our alumni video and find out how Jon Tilley found the course improved his writing confidence and what he's hoping to achieve post graduation.

Academic facilities

Creative Writing (screen and play) performance space

Students using the performance space for Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting)

Industry ties

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, David Edgar, Martha Fiennes, Andrea Gibb, Tony Grisoni, Stuart Hazeldine, Dennis Kelly, Mike Leigh, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Patrick Marber, Paul Mayeda Berges, Nicholas McInerny, Anthony Neilson, Diane Samuels, Paul Sirett, Ali Taylor, Sue Teddern, Colin Teevan, Timberlake Wertenbaker, and Roy Williams.

You will have the opportunity to meet agents, producers, directors, and authors on screenwriting. Recent guests have included:

Linda Aronson, Katie Battcock, Matthew Bates, Paul Basset Davies, Camilla Bray, Ruth Caleb, Julian Friedmann, Tony Garnett, Lisa Goldman, Fin Kennedy, Kate Leys, Nick Marston, Margaret Matheson, Jeremy Mortimer, George Perrin, Simon Shaps, David Thompson, Neil Quinn, Mervyn Watson and Katie Williams.

Learn a language for free

We offer a free language course for City, University of London students.

Find out how to apply

Teaching and learning

Our Creative Writing masters course is taught and run by professional working writers and you will be mentored by a professional working playwright or screenwriter for the whole of year two.

You will be taught intensively for six hours per week in year one and in the second year you choose to write either a full length play, or screenplay, or a pilot for an original television series.

This playwriting and screenwriting course 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 this Creative Writing masters course is the requirement to finish a full-length play or screenplay. The course culminates in a showcase of your work to an audience of industry professionals and other interested parties.

Visiting lecturers in the worlds of film, television and theatre visit the course and include:

nullPhil O'Shea is Programme Director of the MA Creative Writing (Playwriting & Screenwriting). 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 an external examiner in screenwriting at Birkbeck College University of London and at Bournemouth University. Previously he was external examiner at the University of Bedfordshire. He is a member of the film committee of the Writers Guild of Great Britain. Phil's research area is screenwriting in the digital era.


Barbara Norden is a writer and theatre maker. She writes plays and is involved in developing them towards performance. She also writes poetry. Before that she was a journalist. She is interested in working with others to develop a new theatrical language based on her writing and in writing plays for production. She has also done research into dramatic structure; and into 20th century European and American avant garde theatre. She has spoken at conferences on theatre related topics. She is a former theatre reviewer and edited a magazine arts section devoted to artistic output by women. Qualifications: PhD Royal Holloway, University of London Dept of Drama. Exchange to New York University (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Tisch School of the Arts). Diploma in Dramatic Writing Hampstead Performing Arts BA (Hons) in English Literature Queens' College, Cambridge. Visit her website


John Yorke (former controller of drama BBC TV, Head of Drama at Channel 4, and author of “Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them”). John teaches the year one Dramatic Writing (Screenwriting) module.

Lisa Goldman (theatre director & writer, former artistic director of the Soho Theatre, and author of “The No Rules Handbook for Writers”). Lisa teaches the year one Dramatic Writing (Playwriting) module.

Jim Hill (writer and director of popular television drama and perhaps best known as the co-creator of the successful series Boon). Jim teach the year one Writing Workshop (TV writing) module.

Jon Gilbert (Writer, director and script consultant). Jon teaches on the year two Production Business module and is a year two mentor.

Penny Gold (writer, dramaturg, director and producer who has worked in theatre, television, film and radio). Penny teaches on the year two Production Business module and is a year two mentor.

Britt Harrison (screenwriting and script consultant). Britt teaches on the year two Production Business module and is a year two mentor.

Olivia Hetreed (screenwriter of Girl with a Pearl Earring and Wuthering Heights, and President of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain). Olivia is a year two mentor.

Andrew Cartmel (show runner on three seasons of Doctor Who, senior script editor, novelist and playwright).  Andrew is a year two mentor.

Ali Taylor (award-winning playwright who has written for the Hampstead Theatre, Royal Court, Soho, Theatre503 and BBC Radio 4). Ali is a year two mentor.

David Lane (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). David is a year two mentor.

Kay Stonham (actor, writer and academic who has worked on many TV and radio comedy shows). Kay is a year two mentor.

Ellin Stein (leading screenwriting consultant and theatre critic). Ellin is a year two mentor.

Assessment

Assessment includes participation in lectures, seminars and workshops; of work on presentations; set exercises and own play or screen script proposal.

Modules

You will take three modules (Writing Workshop, Dramatic Writing and Storytelling) and be taught for six hours a week in year one. There will be tutorials alongside this in all 3 terms. You will create a 10 minute film as well as a 10 minute play.

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 this you will participate in workshops.

Year 1

In the first term, the emphasis will be on plays, and the core elements of dramatic writing: storytelling; action; creation of character; dialogue; use of time, space and image; structure; and stage. Emphasis will be placed on imaginative use of the form. The second term allows you to focus on film. You will learn to develop a film script using industry terms and techniques including pitching, writing treatments and scene outlines, employing camera directions, and working with, and against, genre.

In the first year you will study three modules:

  • Writing Workshop
  • Dramatic Writing
  • Storytelling

These will include tutorials as well as workshops. (Writing tutorials are taught in term 1 and 2 and Storytelling is in term 3).

Through these modules you will 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.

Year 2

In the second year, students will participate in a series of workshops on writing TV and radio drama and you will hear your first term short plays read by actors and experience the rewriting process. Your second year will consist of two modules:

  • Own Play or Script
  • The Production Business.

In addition to completing a full length play or script under the guidance of your mentor, you will 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.

  • Drama Development at CBBC
    The course gave me the confidence, skills and vocabulary I needed to work with scripts and writers on a daily basis.
  • Story Producer on Holby City
    I love the work that I do - and I'm very grateful to City.

Career prospects

Many of our Creative Writing graduates from play and screenwriting go on to have their work performed professionally and have won many awards and nominations. Find out more about them here.

Some examples from 2016 include:

  • Aisha Zia, who received a grant from Brookleaze and her play ‘Besieged’ is on at the Arcola Theatre.
  • Dianna Hunt, Her play ‘One Woman's Slide: A Blues’ has been programmed in the Talawa Arts Festival.
  • Cheryl White, whose 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.
  • Louisa Hayford, who did a ten week paid internship at the Coronation Street story department as part of the ITV Coronation Street Original Voices scheme.

Some of our first year students have also had their work picked up professionally.

75% of graduates in employment or further study six months after completing the course

Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2014-15


Applications for 2017 are now open.

You will be required to provide the following:

  1. One application form. You can download a pdf version of the application form or apply online by following the links below.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.

Application process

You may be invited to attend an interview or be interviewed by phone if you are shortlisted.

Application Deadline

You are advised to apply as soon as possible after applications open, however we usually have a rolling deadline up until the end of August for programmes commencing at the end of the following September.

Contact details

Request a prospectus

Find out more about City and all our postgraduate degree programmes.

Get your prospectus

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.