Television Scriptwriting MA

About the course

This long-established course concentrates on the craft of television scriptwriting and prepares you for the competitive world of professional writing.

It offers direct links and networking opportunities within the industry by introducing you to professional writers, script editors, agents and producers through a regular programme of guest lectures, workshops, location visits and one-to-one mentoring.

Working to deadlines, you will undertake a series of assignments and produce individual signature scripts developed from original ideas, giving you a distinct calling card to the industry. By writing ‘shadow’ scripts of existing television shows you learn the discipline of writing to a brief.

Guest writers have included:

  • Andy Hamilton (Drop The Dead Donkey)
  • Tony Marchant (Mark of Cain)
  • Sarah Bagshaw (Emmerdale)
  • Tony Jordan (Hustle)
  • Matthew Graham (Life On Mars)
  • Julian Jones (Merlin)
  • Phil Ford (Dr Who and Sarah Jane Adventures)
  • Barbara Machin (Waking the Dead).

Key facts

UKPASS code: W81071

Duration:  Two years part-time

Location: Clephan Building

Entry and admission criteria

Although we favour students with a good academic record (2:1 honours degree is ideal), the main criteria for admission to the course is writing talent. You are required to submit examples of your scriptwriting with your application form and to show evidence of an informed interest in television drama and/or comedy.

The example should be one complete script or a 30 page extract of a script. This can be in any genre and can be written either for film or television. The script should be accompanied by a half page synopsis and will be judged on:

  • Originality of ideas and approach
  • Understanding of dramatic construction
  • Plausibility of characters and dialogue

You will also need to submit:

  • A 200 word proposal for a new soap or drama series or sitcom accompanied by the first five pages of a sample script
  • A 200 word critical review comparing two soap operas or a review of a long-running drama series or a recent sitcom episode demonstrating your knowledge and critical awareness of popular television drama
  • A CV giving details of your career history to date

 

Teaching and assessment

Lectures, workshops and tutorials are led by the course tutors and visiting professionals. A visit to a BBC drama studio offers you a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective of television drama production. Industry-based script editors deliver a full and professional script report on your first year scripts. A visiting group of actors undertake a workshop reading from scripts so you can hear your dialogue spoken and interact with the actors to define and improve your writing skills.

You are required to write script reports and a 5,000 word essay. However, you will be mainly assessed on the quality of your scripts, one or more of which you will be required to write for each module, and you are encouraged to circulate your work within the industry and the contacts forged by the course.

Course modules

This is a part-time course divided into four 12-week semesters over two years. It is taught one day a week (usually on a Thursday), in a seminar group of around 15 students.

In the first year you develop and script your own original television series and write ‘shadow’ episodes of existing television drama. Workshops are led by the course tutor and guest writers who encourage you to produce concept documents, synopses, outlines, scene-by-scenes and second draft scripts. In the second year you are divided into groups to undertake team writing, having chosen a subject from the many TV genres. There are workshops on commercial series analysis, screenplay structure, genre television, pitching and submission strategies. All students do the following modules: Learning Scriptwriting Techniques, Writing for Existing TV Series and Serials, Team-Writing an Original TV Series/Serial, Writing Situation Comedy and Comedy Drama, Writing for Other Television Genres and Markets, and a Final Script Project.

Academic expertise

Jim Hill (Course Tutor)

Jim is a freelance writer/producer/director. He is best known as the co-creator of the television series Boon. He has worked on popular shows including Minder, The Bill, Lovejoy, Casualty, and Pie in the Sky as well as directing a six part series about Subbuteo tabletop football for BBC Scotland. He has been employed as a producer/director for LWT on reality crime shows Coppers and Crime Monthly and has worked extensively in Europe for Fremantle Worldwide Drama as a story consultant on a daily serial drama.

Jim wrote the Directors’ Handbook for Lego’s Stephen Spielberg Movie Maker Set. He has been working for McCann Erickson and their client The Carbon Trust directing a series of case studies about the business community and the effect of climate change. He has been an adviser to Interaktív-Fiction (Hungary), which produces the prime-time soap opera Joban Rosszban for the commercial channel TV2.

Christopher Walker (Course Leader)

Chris is former head of the script unit of Central TV where he produced all seven series of the successful situation comedy The Upper Hand.

He was creative executive for Columbia TriStar Central Productions and subsequently developed comedy projects for Carlton Television and the BBC. He is also tutor for the undergraduate module on scriptwriting on the Media and Communication BA (Hons) at DMU.

For your final script you will be assigned a mentor drawn from the industry. Recent mentors include Jimmy McGovern (The Street, Cracker), Tony Marchant (Mark of Cain), Jed Mercurio (Bodies), Kay Mellor (Band of Gold) and Barbara Machin (Waking The Dead).

Industry links and professional accreditation

A large proportion of our lecturers are active practitioners within the television industry and we can call upon the expertise of writers, producers, agents, script editors and development executives to offer practical advice, undertake Q&A sessions and oversee workshops. We also invite graduates to return as guests and talk about their experiences within the industry.

Importantly the broad range of guests who have practical experience across a wide range of genres are the beginnings of the network of supportive professionals that will assist, advise and encourage you in your career as a writer.

Networking is a key component to progressing as a writer and De Montfort has, over the years, established a supportive network within the television industry. Through our mentoring scheme we ensure that all our writers are given the opportunity to find their own champion within the writing community who will read their script, endorse and promote them.

De Montfort University MA TV Scriptwriting is highly regarded within the industry for its continual high standard of teaching, its eminent visiting tutors and the high profile commissions of its graduates.

Graduate careers

This course provides a positive platform if you wish to launch yourself into a scriptwriting career by instilling technique, encouraging creativity and bringing you into contact with industry professionals.

You will have a greater knowledge and understanding of popular drama writing; its economic restrictions, and story-telling demands. You will be introduced to the realities of the industry and the opportunities available to you.

The course’s growing reputation within the industry is reflected in the willingness of visiting professionals to read your work and, in some cases, forward it to active producers and script editors. Literary agents have attended as guest tutors, read students’ scripts and given feedback.

Previous students from the MA have gone on to/been commissioned to write for Eastenders, Doctors, Shameless, New Tricks, Heartbeat, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.

Fees and funding

Fees and funding options for 2013/14 entry are still under review and are subject to change.

Part-time
Postgraduate courses fees per year £3280
Continuation UK/EU Fee** £150

For more information please take a look at our Funding|| section.

* ELQ Student definition - If you are a Home or EU status student and you already have a qualification at or above the level of the programme you wish to study from any country you will be considered as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) student. In 2008 the UK Government decided to stop funding universities for student in this situation and therefore the following fees will apply £5,000. Students from outside the EU are not affected by the policy.

** A fee that is charged on a periodic basis where Postgraduate or Research students need to extend their registration to complete the course.

Facilities

The Clephan Building, home to humanities courses, houses generous teaching accommodation equipped with the latest audio-visual equipment, the Student Advice Centre, Academic Guidance Centre and resources rooms with specialist facilities needed to excel. Our dedicated computer centre includes a state-of-the-art media lab with Apple Intel Mac Pro computers, cinema screens and all the latest creative software applications with full technical support. There are computing classrooms and an additional suite of computer workstations which can be pre-booked. Our computer centre reflects both our commitment to providing access to information technology and our determination to develop innovative teaching methods and web-based learning resources.

 

How to apply

Students can apply directly to study this postgraduate taught course at DMU by using our online applications portal|.


Contact details

 

For further information and admissions advice

Study enquiries:  +44 (0) 116  2 50 60 70

Submit an online form| to ask questions and get advice.

 

 
Events target area image
Events

At DMU there is always something to do or see, check out our events for yourself.

News target area image
News

DMU is a dynamic university, read about what we have been up to in our latest news section.

Mission and vision target area image
Mission and vision

Read about our mission and vision and how these create a supportive and exciting learning environment.