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Screenwriting: First Steps Short Course

Key information

Dates and fees to be confirmed

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Course Code:
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Booking Deadline:
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Covid-19 update: The learning doesn’t have to stop, join our online community. We will be delivering courses remotely until further notice. Live tutor support and virtual lessons will take place during advertised teaching hours. The classes are taught in small groups, so you’ll get lots of support from your tutor. Book now.

Have you got a good idea for a film script but don’t know where to begin? Through our practical screenwriting short course, you are equipped with the skills for producing scripts, understanding structure, understanding of the professional and industry aspects of filmmaking and much more.

Why choose this course?

Led by screenwriting experts, in a top-rated London institution, the Screenwriting evening course offers high quality teaching and enables you to work and study at the same time.

Studying at City is an investment in the future – you will be taught by an award winning writer and film director who will help unleash potential and enable students to step into the filmmaking industry.

Course overview

Screenwriting can seem like a dauntingly technical form. This introduction to our Screenwriting short course teaches you how to write a film script, with plenty of writing exercises and analysis of scripts and films.

On completion of the course, you will have a set of tools for writing your own scripts: learning to write visually, working with character and conflict, and building narrative. The main focus is on screenwriting for the UK market but the US and European markets are also explored.

  • “ the screenwriting course really motivated me and inspired me” Christopher Bennett spring term 2018 ”

    Christopher Bennet

    Former student

  • “ I loved the course – and I am planning to do it again. It was inspirational and I am convinced that anyone who is interested in writing a screenplay would benefit hugely from taking it. It was so helpful for me personally. ”

    Robert Johnston

    Former student

  • “ A very good course and I learnt lots – only wish there was a follow up course or second term! ”

    Ross R.

    Former student

  • “ Fantastic learning experience for film lovers and writers, regardless of experience. ”



  • “ Great introduction. Tutor's enthusiasm was equally marked by her knowledge. Thoroughly enjoyed the course and felt I got a very thorough introduction to screenwriting. ”

    Byron Garside


  • “ This course is engaging, fun and challenging. Dictynna is a great tutor. Highly recommended! ”



What will I learn?

What will I learn?

You will be able to:

  • Acquire the basic tools to write a feature script
  • Gain an understanding of screenplay structure
  • Learn how to write character outlines, an outline and treatment for a feature script
  • Gain an understanding of the professional and industry aspects of screenwriting

Week 1 - What is a screenplay? Writing a visual world

  • Exercises and analysis of shooting scripts in different styles with clips

Week 2 - Elements of a screenplay (continued)

  • Filmic elements and film grammar with clips and exercises

Week 3 - Character and conflict – with clips

  • Character work; protagonists and antagonists
  • How characters create the drama

Week 4 - The 3 Act 8 Sequence structure

  • Film analysis – (with pitfalls of the approach)

Week 5 - Review and Regroup

  • To identify and analyse form, genre, unique narrative  and character strength of film of your choice.

Week 6 - Focusing your idea

  • ‘Form’ – Shorter? Longer? Genre? Drama?
  • Pitches and one pager exercise
  • Writing one page synopsis of a film of your choice developing an understanding of film narrative, character arc,  plot turning points work together.

Week 7 - Writing dialogue and creating ‘space’

  • Functions of dialogue in film (with clips)

Week 8 - Sculpting in Time

  • Working with time in film writing; transitions (with clips)

Week 9 - Symbolism and iconography

  • Poetic cinema (with clips) OR Writing Comedy

Week 10 - Industry

  • Scriptwriting as a collaborative form; working with script editors, financiers, directors, producers and other writers (guest lecture)



Prerequisite knowledge

Some knowledge of films and/or filmmaking.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

Students will:

  • Demonstrate writing visually
  • Acquire the basic tools to write a feature script
  • Analyse screenplay structure
  • Write character outlines, an outline and treatment for a feature script
  • Understand professional and industry aspects of screenwriting
  • Prepare a pitch for an idea
  • Analyse both shooting scripts and films of varying genres and identified the screenwriting techniques involved
  • Work on practical exercises in developing character outlines, a treatment, dialogue, sample scenes, story and script structure
  • Work on practical exercises emphasising visual film writing
  • Write and present a 1200 - 1500 word treatment for a film and a script sample

Method of assessment:

Tutor observation of the students' contribution to group discussions and exercises and an ability to develop critical analysis of scripts and films.

Presentation of a treatment and sample scene for a feature film as a work in progress

Evidence of assessment:

A feature film proposal with sample scene

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

While we encourage you to read the books on the reading list for your course, we recommend that you speak to the tutor before investing in the purchase of any essential text

  • Mehring, Margaret. (1990) -The Screenplay: A blending of form and content
  • London: FocalRabiger, Michael. (2006) - Developing Story Ideas. Oxford: Focal
  • Vogler, Christopher. (1996) -The Writer's Journey: Boxtree
  • Field, Syd. (2005) -Screenplay -The Foundations of Screenwriting: DeltaGoldman, William. (1985) -
  • Adventures in the Screen Trade. London: Futura
  • King, Stephen. (2001) -On Writing:  Hodder and Stoughton
  • Seger, Linda. (1987)-Making a Good Script Great: Samuel French

Tutor information

  • Maeve Murphy

    Maeve Murphy is an award-winning screen writer and film director. Her film BEYOND THE FIRE won Best UK Feature at the London Independent Film Festival and was selected for New British Cinema at the ICA and received a UK/Ireland cinema release.

    It was broadcast on BBC 2, where it was made "pick of the day" in the Daily Mail.

    Maeve's TAKING STOCK, a romantic caper starring Kelly Brook  premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in October 2015. Taking Stock then won 4 awards at the Monaco International Film Festival and was released in cinemas across the UK on 5th February 2016. Taking Stock was bought and released by Netflix.

    SILENT GRACE a film Maeve wrote and directed had its broadcast Premier on TV3 2017. " films of the week" Sunday Times.

    Maeve is currently working on a new film with Shane Mac Gowan and his long term partner Victoria Mary Clarke.

    See more from Maeve at

Next steps

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