MA Screenwriting

Year of entry: 2022

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Overview

Degree awarded
Master of Arts
Duration
1 year [full-time]
Entry requirements

We normally expect students to have a First or Upper Second class honours degree or its overseas equivalent in a humanities-based subject area.

If you do not meet our minimum entry criteria, please contact the admissions team to discuss your application as the school considers all applications holistically.  

Full entry requirements

How to apply
Apply online

Course options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning
MA Y N N N

Course overview

  • The only such course offered by an elite Russell Group university, MA Screenwriting is a small, highly selective course, taught in the manner of a creative conservatoire .
  • An intensive one-year MA that develops the writer's voice, embeds professional practice and enhances graduate employability across UK and global film and television industries.
  • Industry focused throughout, developing creative, entrepreneurial, collaborative and professional skills, the course also includes the possibility of either an internship at a production company or a professional mentor.
  • Taught by professional screenwriters and experienced educators Tim Price and Jonathan Hourigan.
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MA Screenwriting has unrivalled access to Hollyoaks, which provides fantastic training and employment opportunities.

Open days

Find out what it's like to study at Manchester by visiting us on one of our open days .

Fees

For entry in the academic year beginning September 2022, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • MA (full-time)
    UK students (per annum): £10,500
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £21,000

Further information for EU students can be found on our dedicated EU page.

Policy on additional costs

All students should normally be able to complete their programme of study without incurring additional study costs over and above the tuition fee for that programme. Any unavoidable additional compulsory costs totalling more than 1% of the annual home undergraduate fee per annum, regardless of whether the programme in question is undergraduate or postgraduate taught, will be made clear to you at the point of application. Further information can be found in the University's Policy on additional costs incurred by students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes (PDF document, 91KB).

Scholarships/sponsorships

Each year the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures offer a number of School awards and Subject-specific bursaries (the values of which are usually set at Home/EU fees level), open to both Home/EU and international students. The deadline for these is early February each year. Details of all funding opportunities, including deadlines, eligibility and how to apply, can be found on the School's funding page  where you can also find details of the Government Postgraduate Loan Scheme.

See also the University's postgraduate funding database to see if you are eligible for any other funding opportunities.

For University of Manchester graduates, the Manchester Alumni Bursary offers a £3,000 reduction in tuition fees to University of Manchester alumni who achieved a First within the last three years and are progressing to a postgraduate taught master's course.

The Manchester Master's Bursary is a University-wide scheme that offers 100 bursaries worth £3,000 in funding for students from underrepresented groups.

Contact details

School/Faculty
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Contact name
PG Taught Admissions
Email
Website
http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/centrefornewwriting/
School/Faculty

See: About us

Courses in related subject areas

Use the links below to view lists of courses in related subject areas.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

We normally expect students to have a First or Upper Second class honours degree or its overseas equivalent in a humanities-based subject area.

If you do not meet our minimum entry criteria, please contact the admissions team to discuss your application as the school considers all applications holistically.  

English language

An overall grade of IELTS 7.0 with 7.0 in writing and no skill below 6.5 is required or 100+ in the TOEFL iBT with a minimum writing score of 25 and no skill below 22.

If you have obtained a different qualification, please check our  English language requirements  to ensure that it is accepted and equivalent to the above requirements.

English language test validity

Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Other international entry requirements

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries. For these and general requirements including English language see entry requirements from your country .

Application and selection

How to apply

Advice to applicants

You should include a personal statement (no more than 500 words) that demonstrates your understanding of the subject and your motivation for wanting to study the programme.

If your academic background is not directly related to the programme, you should supply an academic-standard writing sample on a subject related to the programme.

If English is not your native language, then you should provide an academic-standard writing sample in English directly related to the subject.

Portfolio Requirements

There are 12 places on this highly competitive course each year.  The closing date for applications to this course is TBA, or when all places have been taken.  We will update the main webpage if this occurs and notify any waiting applicants individually . Any successful applicants chosen after the programme is closed may be offered deferred entry in 2023.    

You must upload the following with your application:

  1. Three original ideas for film(s) or TV drama series (1 or 2 pages long each). Applicants should include the title of film and a logline describing it for the poster, where and when the film is set (eg contemporary/period), the genre (eg drama/comedy/sci-fi), and what it is about thematically.
  2. One A4 page on why you want to do the MA, including references to films and TV series that have influenced and interested you.
  3. A separate writing sample (no less than 10 pages of screenplay format) to demonstrate that you can write dramatic scenes and dialogue. This writing sample could be a screenplay draft of one of the ideas you are applying with, or of another screenplay, theatre play, TV/radio drama, short film. It should demonstrate your potential and your ability to create characters, lively dialogue and tell a story dramatically.
  4. Your CV/biography. 

How your application is considered

Applications are mainly considered on the basis of an assessment of past and predicted academic achievements, the academic reference(s) and any other supplementary evidence that supports the application. Once we have an application that is ready for a decision, the admissions tutor (often the Programme Director) will relay the decision to the admissions team, who will send you this decision.

Please note that your application is usually received by the School 24 to 48 hours after the time you submit it. If you have not provided documentation that allows the admissions tutor to make a decision, we will contact you.

Overseas (non-UK) applicants

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries that equate to a UK 2.1. For these and general requirements including English language see entry requirements from your country .

If English is not your first language, please provide us with evidence of:

  • an overall grade 7.0 (with a minimum writing score of 7) in IELTS; or
  • 100+ in the IBT Internet-based TOEFL).

The other language tests we accept can be found here: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/new-approved-english-tests.pdf

Exceptions to needing a language test (if English is NOT your first language) are:

  • if you have successfully completed an academic qualification deemed by UK NARIC as equivalent to at least a UK Bachelors Degree or higher from one of the following countries:

Antigua & Barbuda; Australia; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Ireland; Jamaica; New Zealand; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; UK; USA.

Course details

Course description

The only course of its kind at a Russell Group university, our intensive one-year MA Screenwriting is structured around lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials. Students' creative output includes short and feature screenplays and a television series pilot script.

This MA deepens the creativity of our students, embeds professional practice, encourages enterprise and enhances employability. Taught in the manner of a creative conservatoire, it prepares our graduates to forge successful and fulfilling careers in the UK and global film and television industries with confidence and flair.

The course was established by Tanya Seghatchian, producer of the Harry Potter films, Pawlikowski's Oscar winning 'Cold War' and Campion's Oscar winning 'The Power of the Dog'. It is taught by professional screenwriters and experienced educators Tim Price and Jonathan Hourigan.

As a student on MA Screenwriting you will attend lectures and participate in a range of inspiring, challenging and informative seminars and workshops. You will have regular one-to-one meetings with your tutors, access to visiting industry professionals and the possibility of an internship at a production company. Participating production companies have included Film4 (Room, Ex Machina), Wildgaze (Brooklyn), Number 9 Films (Carol), Left Bank (The Crown), Warp (This is England), Red Productions (Happy Valley) and Hammer Films (The Woman in Black, Let Me In).

Over the two semesters of MA Screenwriting you will work closely with your tutors and collaborate with your contemporaries as you develop your screenwriting, pitching, story-breaking, script editing, analytical and other professional skills. You will attend screenings and will regularly be required to read, analyse and discuss screenplays and television episodes. This will broaden and deepen your critical awareness of the history of - and current trends in - UK and global film and television. You will have exposure to a range of approaches to story structure and you'll explore the generation and development of ideas, story design, characterisation, visual storytelling, genre, theme and scene construction. You will develop short screenplays, a full-length feature screenplay across at least two drafts and a pilot TV episode which, collectively, will showcase both your distinctive vision and professional capacities to the industry when you graduate.

As with all courses located within the Centre for New Writing, you will be taught by practitioners who are also experienced educators. It is an industry-focused and vocationally-oriented programme. You will receive individual career guidance and support around research, the business and finance of screenwriting, the preparation of CVs, the dissemination of your work, networking and the pursuit of entry level opportunities. Along with the possibility of an internship at a production company, there is also the possibility of a London industry day with exposure to a range of professionals including writers, producers, agents and commissioners.

Special features

MA Screenwriting - David Rattigan

"For the longest time I've wanted to pursue a career in writing, but before discovering the MA, I wasn't exactly sure how to go about it.

"I feel I know a remarkable amount now about the business, how it operates and where I will hopefully fit into it."

David Rattigan / MA Screenwriting graduate (signed to Curtis Brown)
Si Wall

"I came away from the London Industry Day feeling positive, empowered and genuinely believing that, with the right work ethic, a thick skin and a bit of luck, I could make it in the British film and television industry.

"This is the opposite of how I felt at the same time the previous year, which is also a testament to the MA as a whole."

Si Wall / MA Screenwriting

Industry speakers

Speakers from the film and TV industries have included Beth Pattinson of BBC Films (Brooklyn, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Philomena), Chris Chibnall, writer and creator of Broadchurch and Pete Czernin, producer of In Bruges and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1 and 2) . 

Internship opportunities

We hope to offer students the possibility of a `hands-on' internship, or industry placement, of up to two weeks at a major film or television production company in London or the north-west. This provides an opportunity to gain a direct, practical understanding of the context in which development and production take place. It also allows students to network and develop contacts as well as to reinforce `soft' and transferable skills developed during the MA.

Teaching and learning

As an industry-focused and vocationally-oriented programme located within a Russell Group university, teaching and learning reflect industry development practice and a robust pedagogy.

During each of the two semesters of MA Screenwriting you will undertake two units (see Course Units below). For each unit you will meet for three hours each week and generally, both units convene on the same day. MA Screenwriting is delivered via lectures, seminars, workshops, one-to-one meetings, screenings and independent study, with practice and theory in dialogue with one another throughout. The programme requires and rewards high levels of student commitment and participation, along with excellent creative, analytical and reflective abilities.

Course capacity is strictly limited and teaching and learning take place in small groups. Lectures, screenings and seminar discussions may involve the whole cohort, whilst workshops are structured around smaller numbers of students working together. Students will also have one-to-one meetings with the Programme Director, their Academic Advisor, each semester to review progress, professional objectives and any pastoral issues. 

At the heart of the programme, students develop a portfolio of creative work that both reflects their distinctive `voice' and meets professional standards. Students will generate ideas and go on to produce treatments, short and feature screenplays and a television pilot episode. 

The discussion of students' creative work in development takes place in small Project Development Groups of three or four students, supported by your tutor and modelled on the practice and ethos of a professional writers' room. This encourages creative risk-taking, along with insightful, challenging and supportive exploration of one another's work. It also develops students' collaborative, creative and analytical capacities, as well as their ability both to give and receive development notes.

Students will also undertake creative writing and analytical exercises, make presentations, produce script reports, learn to pitch persuasively and develop a CV. They should graduate with a distinctive and compelling portfolio of work and with a confident, informed, mature, entrepreneurial and professional approach to their nascent career.

Coursework and assessment

Students are required to undertake a range of assignments and to develop their creative work throughout each semester. 

Each unit is formally assessed at the end of the semester by a portfolio that may include film and television treatments, a Feature Film Portfolio that outlines the initial development of a feature screenplay, short and feature film screenplays and script reports.

Over the summer, you will complete your `dissertation', which comprises a final, revised draft of a full-length feature screenplay.

Course unit details

MA Screenwriting requires you to undertake units that total 180 credits. 

The programme runs across two 12-week semesters, with students taking two core units each semester.

During the first semester you will take Story and the Journey of Change and Genre and Theme , worth 30 credits each. In the second semester you will take The Calling Card Script and Television and Industry and the Feature Film , worth 30 and 90 credits respectively.

The 90 credit unit Industry and the Feature Film is assessed via your dissertation, a final, revised draft of your full-length feature screenplay.

Story and the Journey of Change (30 credits)

This unit introduces students to story structure for both film and television, with a particular focus on the theories of Joseph Campbell, Christopher Vogler and John Yorke. Creative and analytical work includes the analysis and story-breaking of a television series and the production of treatments and a short screenplay.

Genre and Theme (30 credits)  

The second unit of the first semester explores the inspiration for - and the development, structure and critical analysis of - short and feature screenplays, paying particular attention to genre and theme. Creative and analytical work includes script and film analysis, production of a short screenplay and the development of a portfolio of work that explores students' ability to incorporate their understanding of genre and theme into the wider context of conceiving and planning a feature film screenplay.

The Calling Card Script and Television (30 credits)

This second semester unit deepens students' understanding of story structure, including story world and characterisation, with a particular focus on the critical analysis of pilot episodes for major American, British and European comedy and drama series. It considers pilot episodes and series in relation to the industry and audience. Creative and analytical work includes a treatment for an original television series, a trial script for a major British television series and a developed 'calling card' pilot episode for a television series. 

Industry and the Feature Film (90 credit dissertation unit)

This unit focuses on the development, structure, critical analysis and industrial context of the screenplay and feature film. It introduces students to professional screenwriting practice, from pitching, through development, first drafts and rewriting, to producing a CV and approaching agents. Creative and analytical work includes research, analysis and presentations, the production of script reports and most significantly,  the completion of two drafts of a full-length feature screenplay.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Industry and Feature Film ENGL70002 90 Mandatory
Story and the Journey of Change ENGL70701 30 Mandatory
The Calling Card Script and Television ENGL70712 30 Mandatory
Genre and Theme ENGL70801 30 Mandatory

What our students say

Having a year to develop my writing skills, learn from passionate industry professionals and the freedom to excusably indulge myself in watching as many films/TV shows as possible was the best form of preparation for going into the industry.

Jessy Keely, Researcher Lime Studios, MA Screenwriting 2016  

The MA completely opened my eyes. Tim Price and Emma Clarke are veterans of the film and TV industries, and from week one were inhumanly charitable in sharing with us the treasure trove of knowledge and experience that exists within their heads.

Joseph Rattigan

Facilities

You will have access to one of the UK's five National Research Libraries at Manchester, as well as 24/7 study facilities at the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons.

Find out more about facilities for master's students .

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk

Careers

Career opportunities

MA Screenwriting - Katie Lythgow

"If you want a career in TV/film and don't know where to start, I would recommend the MA for the insight it gives into the industry.

"It's not a typical academic course - it's very vocational and is focused on preparing you for a job."

Katie Lythgow / Junior Storyliner at Hollyoaks

This course is designed to train graduates to work in the UK and global film and television industries.

Some will work as professional screenwriters, while others may take up other media and writing positions. 

We offer talks from professionals in the industry and internship programmes to help you get an insight into what it's like to work in film and TV. 

You can read profiles of some of our recent graduates to find out where they ended up working after completing the course - including two graduates who now work on Hollyoaks - on our student spotlights  page. 

The University has its own dedicated Careers Service  that you would have full access to as a student and for two years after you graduate. At Manchester you will have access to a number of opportunities to help boost your employability .