MA Creative Writing Scriptwriting

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The MA Creative Writing Scriptwriting addresses dramatic writing across the media with the rigour and professional insight that are the hallmark of our creative writing teaching.

You will explore both the theory and practice of dramatic writing, addressing contemporary critical debates, analysing written and performance texts, and experimenting with a range of techniques in original writing. You will develop your skills in constructive criticism and creative editing of your peers’ writing, creating a supportive writers’ network in the process.

Your modules will be taught by theorists and practitioners, and will be supplemented by masterclasses given by visiting specialists. Our teaching is carried out through seminar discussions and presentations, screenings, workshops and readings, and may also include performance visits. You will be assessed on an analytical essay, original creative writing and working process materials.

Overview

The Scriptwriting strand of our world-renowned MA Creative Writing has three core modules. First, Dramaturgy, in which you will study the core principles of drama as explored from Aristotle to McKee and as embodied in a range of plays, films and TV programmes, from Antigone to Game of Thrones.

You will also take part in the Scriptwriting workshop, building upon your study of dramaturgical theory. You will incorporate this theory into your own writing practice in weekly creative development workshops, completing scriptwriting and planning exercises; over the course of the workshop, you and your fellow writers will bring your exercises to the group for discussion and evaluation.

Alongside these modules runs the Process module, where each week you will benefit from the scrutiny and feedback of your fellow writers and workshop leaders, such as the renowned playwrights Steve Waters and Timberlake Wertenbaker. You will develop a short script for your choice of medium, building an idea from concept to realisation under the keen eye of an industry expert.

Over the summer you will also write a dissertation, under the supervision of a member of our faculty. 

Course structure

The Scriptwriting strand of the MA Creative Writing is taken over one academic year (full time) or two years (part time). You will take four taught modules (two in the autumn semester, two in spring) and write a dissertation during the summer, with tutorial supervision. 

In addition to the three core modules outlined above, you may choose another module from the range of modules offered within the School (excluding other Creative Writing workshops). These include Politics and Media; Asian Cinema; Creativity and Development in Film and Television Production; and Adaptation and Interpretation.

By the spring semester you will have embarked on your dissertation, benefiting from close supervision and advice as you write a full-length drama for the medium of your choice. This will be an original script, written to at least second draft stage, for stage, screen (TV or feature film), or radio.

Assessment

Each module is independently assessed, and is weighted at 20 credits. The dissertation is weighted at 90 credits (50% of the overall course grade). 

Course tutors and research interests

Lecturers on the course have included:

Steve Waters is an acclaimed writer for stage, radio and screen; his plays include Temple, which was staged at the Donmar Warehouse, London, in 2015, and his play Limehouse, which opened in 2017 at the same venue. He has also written on dramatic writing for The Guardian and in his book The Secret Life of Plays.

Timberlake Wertenbaker is one of the most celebrated contemporary playwrights, with her plays such as Our Country’s Good and more recently Jefferson’s Garden performed across the world. Her radio adaptation of War and Peace in 2015 is a highlight of contemporary radio.

Rob Ritchie is one of the UK’s leading script developers – he has worked for the Royal Court theatre, Joint Stock Theatre and was the Head of Scriptwriting at the National School of Film and Television, as well as developing scripts for The Script Factory and others.

Where next?

Graduates of the course have a variety of related careers. Some are acclaimed playwrights for the stage, such as E. V. Crowe and Bruntwood Prize-winner Janice Okoh; some are writer/performers who make films and sitcoms, such as Molly Naylor; some, like Paul Farrell and Rob Kinsman, work on television series such as Waking the Dead or Doctors; and others, like Mags Chalcraft, go on to take up a PhD. Our graduates are out there winning BAFTAs, working in radio, teaching and script editing – even running other MAs. 

Frequently asked questions

How and when do I apply?

We take applications through our online system right up until July of the year of study. The key element of this application is an extract of up to 30 pages from your dramatic work for screen or stage; this can be several short extracts or one long piece.

Can I specialise in my core medium?

Yes, although the Dramaturgy module and Scriptwriting workshop require you to explore writing in all media or study texts across media, as we want to extend your range.

Do I get to have my work workshopped?

Yes, we build in to the course workshopping with directors and actors and have a day when extracts from your dissertation are presented to an invited audience.

Is the course linked to the writing industry?

We take seriously the idea of writing as a living as well as an art, and bring in guests and agents throughout the year. Recent guests have included the radio producer Celia de Wolff, the actor Emily Taaffe, the playwright David Edgar and the film director Guy Myhill.

Course Modules 2017/8

Students must study the following modules for 160 credits:

Name Code Credits

CREATIVE WRITING AND RESEARCH SEMINARS

This 10-credit module consists of a series of lectures by Creative Writing and Critical faculty of direct relevance to the practical aspects of researching and writing a major piece of creative work. Attendance is compulsory.

LDCC7006B

10

CREATIVE WRITING DISSERTATION

Students are required to write a dissertation of a length as specified in their MA Course Guide on a topic approved by the Course Director or other authorised person.

LDCC7017X

90

CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: SCRIPTWRITING

This module is compulsory for all Scriptwriting MA students and is reserved for students of the Scriptwriting programme. It is co-requisite with Scriptwriting: Dramaturgy (full-time students). Part-time students must complete Dramaturgy as a pre-requisite, in year 1. Workshop 1 builds upon the parallel study of dramaturgical theory and practice in the four major dramatic performance media. The module requires scriptwriters to incorporate the theory into their own creative practice in weekly creative development workshops. Writers will all complete a series of script planning and writing exercises: each week, two writers will bring their exercise to the workshop table for group discussion.

LDCC7004A

20

CREATIVE WRITING: SCRIPTWRITING: DRAMATURGY

This module is compulsory for all scriptwriting MA students, and is a co-requisite with Scriptwriting: Workshop 1 for full time students (part-time students must take Dramaturgy in the autumn of year 1, Workshop 1 in autumn of year 2, Scriptwriting: Process in spring of year 2). It may be taken as an option by non-Scriptwriting students, subject to a maximum enrolment of 16 students; some prior experience of dramatic writing is required. Dramaturgy is an advanced level study of dramatic theory, in four major performance media (theatre, film, television, radio). Weekly seminars build upon students' understanding of structure in dramatic narratives, character creation, temporal and spatial ordering. These are considered within the contexts of reception, cultural and industrial practice applicable to theatre, film, television and radio.

LDCC7007A

20

CREATIVE WRITING: SCRIPTWRITING: PROCESS

This module is compulsory for all Scriptwriting MA students and is reserved for students of the Scriptwriting programme. Dramaturgy and Workshop 1 are pre-requisites for this module. Students develop a short script for theatre/film/television/radio from initial idea through pitch/treatment/step outline/script drafts. In weekly workshop sessions, the stages of project development are tabled for tutorial and peer group critique. Assessment is by presentation of a portfolio of working documentation, script drafts and a short reflective essay.

LDCC7005B

20

Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Students may only select a Spring Semester (SEM2) module.

Name Code Credits

ADAPTATION AND INTERPRETATION

Critical reading and creative writing meet in the activity of adapting a text in one medium for presentation in another. The module focuses on dramatic adaptation, establishing a foundation in basic theory and then focusing on readings or original works and screenings. Discussions probe the choices offered by original texts and explore the possibilities and limitations inherent in different dramatic forms. In the later sessions, students will have the opportunity to workshop an adaptation for a final project.

LDCC7010B

20

CONTEMPORARY FICTION

A COMPULSORY MODULE FOR STUDENTS ON THE MA IN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY WRITING: Various attempts at (sub-)categorising contemporary fiction interpret it as a departure from previous aesthetics or a response to political or historical events or movements: post-modern; post-colonial; post-feminist; post-communist; post-9/11; post-millenial; post-national; even post-post-modern etc. As a prefix, "post-" suggests supersedence rather than novelty; at worst it is merely an aspirational syllable. Its proliferation co-exists with more conventional attempts at temporal taxonomy such as monographs and student guides dedicated to specific decades. One way of reading "post"-something-or-other is to think of it as an engagement with, and critical reassessment of, the past it so assiduously hyphenates: its literary conventions, cultural heritage, philosophical traditions, political ideologies, and - paradoxically - its long shadows way beyond the present moment. The manifestations of these engagements and reassessments can be rather contradictory. The memory boom of the 1990s put paid to claims about "the end of history" or skepticism over Grand Narratives. The renewed popularity of the (neo)historical novel and period drama also chafes against the recent turn towards trauma studies. The effects of new market forces, media and digital technology on the form of writing and the construction of the "author" could also be seen as one of the legacies of modernism. A focus on mindfulness, ethics and affect sits uneasily alongside the necessity for art to provoke and push boundaries. Expressions of the regional contend with an increasing awareness of transnational subjects, diasporic identities and global issues, and some of the most interesting writing today comes from 'the East' or writers with hybrid origins and hyphenated identities. Can fiction still be formally inventive and how might it enter into dialogue with other art forms (photography, sculpture, painting, cinema)? In the light of the critical and commercial success of 'creative non-fiction' we might also want to ask precisely how narrative can perforate disciplinary and generic categories. On this module we will attempt to construct a (naturally provisional, selective and incomplete) genealogy of the contemporary by examining some of the discernible trends and tensions of relatively recent writing (relative, that is, to the age of the convenor and the age of the students!). Much of this writing will be Anglophone but you should be prepared for adventures in reading translations. We will also do some work in UEA's newly founded Archive of Contemporary Literature: what and who is being archived according to which criteria, and what do archivists, academics and critics consider archival about the contemporary?

LDCC7020B

20

CREATIVE-CRITICAL WRITING

Too often, academic critical writing seems to bring pre-packaged language to bear on works whose whole essence and aim is to change the ways in which we see and describe our world. And too often such writing fails to acknowledge the ways in which it itself necessarily participates in the literary 'creativity' it is also about. How, then, to write criticism? Criticism which responds inventively to the literature which it analyses? Criticism which registers, in its own form, language, method and thinking the ways in which it has been transformed by the work(s) of art it encounters? Criticism which recognizes that it cannot rest on received concepts and categories? This module aims to explore those questions. Over the course of the semester we'll read, ponder - and experiment with - a broad range of possible ways of practising creative-criticism, including the 'essay' form, auto-commentary, conceptual writing, criticism as performance, inventive 'theoretical' writing, and diaristic writing.

LDCE7004B

20

EAST ANGLIAN LITERATURE

Throughout the medieval and Early-Modern periods Norwich was one of England's most important cities - probably second only to London - and East Anglia one of the country's culturally liveliest and richest areas. This module explores the literature of these periods in its material contexts (the region's prosperity and power may still be seen in its architecture and in the rich holdings of its libraries and museums) and asks whether there was a specifically East Anglian cultural tradition. The module explores East Anglia's rich dramatic traditions, its devotional literature and practices (in orthodox forms and in those that brush against the heterodox), and, insistently, the manner in which its literature participates in its broader social and cultural worlds. The module is compulsory for students on the Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures MA but may also appeal to those with an interest in the cultural traditions of Norwich and East Anglia or, more generally, in the literature of place.

LDCE7002B

20

GOOD GOOD GIRLS AND GOOD BAD BOYS? AMERICAN FICTIONS OF INNOCENCE

Oscar Wilde wrote that 'The youth of America is their oldest tradition; it has been going on now for three hundred years'. Is this true? If so, why? This module will seek to account for the preoccupation with youth in America by focusing particularly on the concept of 'innocence', and by examining how various models of innocence are invoked and questioned in American literary texts. Drawing on a wide array of fictional and theoretical works, we will consider the following questions: What is at stake in America's investment in innocence? Major cultural events - such as the Vietnam War and 9/11, for example - are often described as representing a 'loss of innocence' in American culture. What power interests and ideologies are maintained by repeatedly describing America as 'innocent'? How is this investment in innocence revised in different historical moments? How is it challenged? With particular reference to fictions of growing up in America, how is innocence (and loss of innocence) depicted differently for male and female protagonists?

AMAL7000B

20

LUDIC LITERATURE

Play, or the ludic, is often listed as one of the main characteristics of postmodernist art, but what is meant by play is usually left no more clearly defined than what is meant by postmodernism. This course seeks to trace the evolution of leading postmodernist styles and themes, especially ludic ones, back to their origins in Joyce, Kafka, Borges, and Nabokov. Using these enormously influential authors as a starting point, we will read a range of ludic authors, passing back and forth between languages, nations, and genres. Authors studied will include Georges Perec, Italo Calvino, Raymond Queneau, Thomas Pynchon, Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Angela Carter, Paul Muldoon, and John Ashbery. We will examine these authors in relation to one another, and to their major pre-postmodernist sources, such as Carroll, Rimbaud, Mallarme, and Dostoevsky. We will also be reading theorists of play such as Schiller, Huizinga, Derrida, and Bakhtin. Central to the module is the exploration of play as a response to literature, and a way of creating new literature out of old, through the play of parody, imitation, transposition, and translation. We will be studying these ancient modes of literary response and performing them ourselves: all students will be encouraged to try their hand at parodying and imitating the texts we are studying, though this is not compulsory. Final assessment can take the form of a 5000 word critical essay or of a combination of a creative piece and a critical essay, to make up 5000 words.

LDCE7006B

20

PHILOSOPHY OF LITERATURE SEMINAR

In a collaborative seminar format, students explore together with the teacher a range of topics in the philosophy of literature. Topics studied typically include: the definition and purpose of literature; the status of fictional characters; the relevance of author's intention and the role of interpretation in fixing meaning; aesthetic evaluation, taste, subjectivity and objectivity; the value of fakes and copies; the emotional effect of literature; whether literature can convey truth and knowledge, and the relationship between aesthetic judgement and ethics. Students prepare a package of two essays relating to different parts of the course, preceded by formative drafts and essay tutorials.

PPLP7001B

20

POLITICS AND MEDIA

Working from the assumption that the media are an integral part of modern political life, this module examines the way in which politics is represented in the media and reviews critically the argument about 'bias'. It also explores the arguments around the ownership and control of media, the increasing use of the media by political parties and the changing relationship between citizens and politics engendered by new communication technologies.

PPLM7002B

20

PUBLISHING - A PRACTICAL APPROACH

This module aims to give students an introduction to the modern publishing industry and a practical survival guide to the different functions involved in the publication of a book. As well as learning about the structure and economics of the British book industry, the opportunities and challenges of digitalization, students will engage with the process whereby books are chosen for publication, review principles of text and jacket design, practise basic copyediting and proofreading skills and learn tips for running a marketing and publicity campaign, writing 'blurbs' and press releases. The course will also touch on copyright law, finance and distribution. Students from the module are invited to join the core team producing the annual MA Creative Writing anthologies.

LDCC7012B

20

THE BIG PICTURE: CONTEMPORARY HOLLYWOOD CINEMA

Hollywood has remained a dominant force in film production, distribution and exhibition in recent decades, despite competition from other local and transnational cinemas. This module aims to explore the success of the Hollywood system through a focus on the industry itself, and the films it produces, particularly those that have been most successful at the domestic and international box office. The module will, therefore, cover a range of relevant topics that may include: what kind of films does Hollywood invest in? Is financial gain the best lens to judge issues of 'popularity'? Who are the target audiences for those films? What is the role of the audience in receiving and popularising these hit movies? What is the relationship between domestic theatrical release, circulation in foreign markets and distribution in other media such as television, film, and DVD?

AMAM7011B

20

THE NON FICTION NOVEL

Some of the most exciting and innovative fiction of the moment is in fact a hybrid form of fiction, borrowing subject matter and techniques from traditionally non-fiction modes such as memoir, criticism, journalism, reportage and life-writing. These novels depart from the usual concerns with character, realistic dialogue and plot to focus on voice, place, time, employing strategies of literary craft to be formally innovative. This course looks at original non-fiction and also at contemporary 'realist' novels which are pushing boundaries and gaining attention in the wider literary culture. We will study the forms, techniques and thematics of both non-fiction and fiction, with an aim to experimenting with and improving students' writing in both forms. Some writing in class and between classes will be required. The second half of the module will include workshopping student work-in-progress. This is a practice-based module taught by a novelist and non-fiction writer and aimed primarily at students on the creative writing strands but is also open to students studying for critical MAs.

LDCC7022B

20

THE POETICS OF PLACE

This module explores innovative and experimental forms of place writing, from the critical and theoretical to literary and artistic. Among the critical and theoretical approaches that the course takes in will be such subjects as psychogeography, ecocriticism, critical heritage studies, deep mapping, animal studies, and literary activism. At the same time, it will consider a number of original works of literature from recent years, thinking carefully about the relationship between theory, method and form.

LDCC7023B

20

THEORY AND PRACTICE OF FICTION

This module is designed to complement the prose fiction workshop but is open to students on related programmes. It is intended to provide students with creative and critical knowledge in a single experiential burst, by exploring as they are relevant to writing fiction such topics as time, place, dramatic structure, character and concinnity. The unit also gives consideration to professional issues confronting novelists, from writer's block to editing, contracts and dealing with the media. The module presents the writer as both artist and supplier of intellectual property to a market, while examining that and other tensions critically. Reading, writing and analysis happen alongside each other. Fictional, critical and professional texts are examined, writing exercises illuminating the issue at hand are undertaken. Students are also expected to make presentations on topics of their choice. Assessment by creative writing coursework with a critical commentary.

LDCC7015B

20

Disclaimer

Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

  • CREATIVE WRITING NEWS

    Find out all the latest news from UEA’s Creative Writing community.

    Read it CREATIVE WRITING NEWS
  • War of the Words

    The pen really is mightier than the sword. New research by UEA Professor Rachel Potter brings to light significant changes writers throughout the twentieth century have made to international legislation.

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  • UEA Literary Festival

    The University of East Anglia's first literary festival took place in 1991 and over the last twenty five years we have welcomed a host of award-winning authors, journalists, illustrators, scientists, economists, broadcasters and more.

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  • Unlocking The Past

    How can the study of dusty manuscripts lead to the creation of interactive digital mapping tools? How does digitising globally significant medieval and early modern letters lead to donning walking gear and creating heritage trails across Norfolk?

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  • Why children’s books that teach diversity are more important than ever

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  • #ASKUEA

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Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject UK BA (Hons) 2:1 or equivalent preferred but not essential.
  • Special Entry Requirements Sample of work - see below

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 7.0 (minimum 6.0 in each section and 7.0 in writing)
  • PTE (Pearson): 68 (minimum 55 in each section and 68 in writing)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact intopre-sessional@uea.ac.uk

Special Entry Requirements

Candidates will be expected to submit a portfolio of writing for assessment - up to 30 pages of dramatic script/screenplay.

Please note that those candidates offered a place on the course will not be able to defer their offer to the next year if they are unable to take up the offer of a place, however they are welcome to reapply the next year.

Intakes

The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the Admissions Office directly for further information.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for the academic year 2018/19 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,550
  • International Students: £15,800

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships and Awards:

There are a variety of scholarships and studentships available to postgraduate applicants in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. For further information relevant to the School of Literature and Creative Writing, please click here.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515
Email: admissions@uea.ac.uk

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries:
    admissions@uea.ac.uk or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515