MA Screenwriting / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

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)

The only course of its kind offered by a Russell Group university, our intensive one-year MA Screenwriting training programme will professionalise writers and presents a genuine gateway into the film and television industries.

You will undertake a rigorous combination of workshops, seminars, one-to-one meetings and regular talks from a variety of industry professionals.

You'll also have the chance to gain hands-on industry experience through structured internship programmes with leading production companies that have included Film4 ( Room, Ex_Machina, The Lobster) , Wildgaze (Brooklyn) , Number 9 Films (Carol) , Left Bank (The Crown), Warp (This is England) , Red Productions ( Happy Valley, Scott and Bailey ), and Hammer Films ( The Woman in Black , Let Me In ).

Over the course of the year, you'll work with leading industry practitioners to develop your screenwriting, pitching and story-breaking skills. By the end of the course, you'll have developed a full length feature film screenplay, a pilot TV episode and two short films.

Like all courses at the Centre for New Writing, this MA is taught by practitioners and, as such, it is vocationally-oriented and industry-focused. You'll have access to individual career guidance and training in how to navigate entry-level work in both the television and film industries.

In the second semester, there will be a London industry day based at BAFTA with talks from agents, producers, and writers, as well as a meeting with the BFI.

You'll study story design, visual story-telling and character arcs in both long-running television series and feature films, and develop the tools to be able to analyse and critique screenwriting craft, as well as learn how to disseminate you own work.

There'll be film screenings, and you'll have access to an excellent lending library of films to watch at home.

Throughout the duration of the course, you'll develop a broad and eclectic knowledge of cinema and television.

Special features

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

The course includes regular speakers from the film and TV industry. Previous speakers have included Beth Pattinson 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

Each summer, we offer students a two week 'hands-on' industry placement at a renowned film or TV production company in either London or the north-west.

These placements are an excellent opportunity for you to make useful contacts, and to develop a practical and direct understanding of the professional context within which screenwriters ply their trade.

Teaching and learning

We intend to keep learning as specific to individual study as possible, and study groups will be intentionally small in scale.

The course capacity is limited to 12 students each year, and you will be taught through a mixture of screenings, lectures and group discussion.

Our 'writers' room' ethos ensures an environment that encourages collaboration, sharing and creative risk-taking.

All writing workshops meet for three hours per week. Workshops will help students add to their portfolio by including adaptations, scenes, draft scripts, script reports, and genre presentations.

Each workshop is assessed by a portfolio which will include pitches, treatments, scenes, draft scripts, script reports and notes on how to progress a draft.

Seminars also meet for three hours per week.

You'll also be offered two individual tutorials per semester in order to discuss the progress of your writing.

Coursework and assessment

Each workshop is assessed by a portfolio which will include pitches, treatments, scenes, draft scripts, script reports and notes on how to progress a draft.

Over the summer, you will complete a 'dissertation' which consists of a final revised version of a full-length screenplay.

Course unit details

You will undertake units totalling 180 credits. This is made up of three core courses worth 90 credits, with the remaining 90 credits allocated to your dissertation.

The course runs across two 12-week semesters, during which you will attend weekly writing workshops to study the very best of contemporary screenwriting, including shows such as Breaking Bad, True Detective, The Killing, Broadchurch, This is England, Rev, Transparency and The Sopranos.

You will also cover British and American examples of charismatic film screenwriting, from Goodfellas to The King's Speech via Alien .

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


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: