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Screenwriting: First Steps Short Course

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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.

City’s introduction to Screenwriting course, taught by an award-winning and Critically acclaimed screenwriter, will equip you with knowledge to write feature film scripts in just 10 weeks.

Why choose this course?

City, University of London’s Screenwriting short course is perfect way to explore your passion for writing for the small or big screen. Whether you are pursuing a hobby or looking to kickstart a career in film, this course will give you a steady grounding to write scripts capably and confidently.

City’s Scriptwriting evening course is taught by a prize winning screenwriter and film director, with the experience to mentor you for a successful career in the filmmaking industry. The course is taught as evening classes, based at City, University of London.

Course overview

Do you have a good idea for a film script but don’t know where to begin? Our practical Screenwriting short course will guide you through the complex world of scriptwriting – giving ‘top tips’ and developing skills to produce industry-standard scripts and thrive within the professional filmmaking industry.

Over the course of 10-weeks, City’s Scriptwriting course will give you the tools through every stage of the process, including:

  • learning to write visually
  • analysing and learning screenplay structure
  • creating memorable characters
  • film treatment- What is it?
  • Creatine standout dialogue
  • Writing powerful scenes
  • building strong but surprising narrative.

Throughout the course, you will analyse filmscripts and clips across a range of genres and be given practical exercises to test your knowledge. You will prepare a pitch for a script idea and write and present a 1,200- 1,500 script treatment and a sample script.

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?

On completion of the course you will have acquired the basic tools to write a feature script. You will understand screenplay structure and have mastered character development and narrative. You will have a good grasp on the essential professional and industry aspects of screenwriting.

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

  • Exploring scripts in different styles.

Week 2 - Elements of a screenplay (continued)

  • Screen elements with clips and exercises.

Week 3 - Character and conflict – with clips

  • Character work; protagonists and antagonists
  • Studying and creating strong screen characters.

Week 4 - The 3 Act 8 Sequence structure

  • Film analysis and learning about turning points.

Week 5 - Review and Regroup

  • Identify and analyse form, genre, unique narrative and character strength of a film of your choice.

Week 6 - Focusing your idea

  • Honing direction of your film idea
  • Pitches and one pager exercise and scenes
  • Writing a one-page synopsis of a film of your choice
  • Developing an understanding of how film narrative, character arc, plot and turning points work together.

Week 7 - Writing memorable key scenes and dialogue

  • Functions of dialogue in film (with clips).

Week 8 – Time frame

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

Week 9 – Genre and film

  • Art film or action cinema (with clips)
  • Writing comedy, from short films to Netflix series.

Week 10 – Industry/industry professional guests

  • Scriptwriting as a collaborative form; working with script editors, financiers, directors, producers and other writers. Introducing you to other industry professionals.



Prerequisite knowledge

We do not ask for any formal qualifications to enrol on the Screenwriting short course but if would be beneficial to have some knowledge of filmmaking or a keen interest in film.

English requirements

You should be proficient in written and spoken English.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

You are not required to take any official assessment, but you will be informally assessed in class.

All methods of assessment are carried out in a supportive and relaxed atmosphere. They include:

  • Contribution in class 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
  • A feature film proposal with sample scene

You will be awarded an official City, University of London certificate if you attend above 70 percent of the classes, however, our short courses are not formally accredited.

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 feature Taking Stock, a romantic caper starring Kelly Brook, premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in October 2015. Taking Stock then won four awards at the Monaco International Film Festival and was released in cinemas in the UK in February 2016. Taking Stock was “popular on Netflix.”

    Silent Grace, a film Maeve wrote and directed had its broadcast Premier on TV3 2017. " films of the week" Sunday Times. Silent Grace was also selected at no 38 in the Irish Times Best Irish Films Ever Made, 2 MAY 2020

    See more from Maeve at

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