BA Drama and English Literature

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Introduction to Screenwriting

Unit code DRAM21552
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Please note that this unit is delivered on-campus only and is therefore not available to remote learners

This course offers students a practical introduction to writing for the screen, and will result in writing a short film. Students will learn about the core techniques of visual story-telling through watching and analysing the short film work of writers such as Martin McDonagh and Andrea Arnold and watching clips of a wide variety of feature films. We will explore how writing for the screen is different than other forms of writing and is both an industrial and an artistic practice.  

Students will develop and hone their own writing skills through a series of focused writing exercises that will be critiqued in class. Students will be introduced to theories of story design, will use screenwriting software, and be taught how to develop their work draft by draft. Weekly classes will cover the classic three act structure, beginnings and endings, the importance of genre, universal themes and their audience relevance, as well as dialogue.  

Students will be expected and encouraged to develop and extend their own knowledge of film and television history: there will be weekly viewing and reading requirements, and a recommended viewing list will be provided. Each student will write an original short film script for their final assessment. Students will work as a group to provide feedback and to learn from each others’ work.  

Pre/co-requisites

Available on which programme(s)? 

L2 Drama, Drama/Film, Drama and English, Music and Drama, Film Studies Joint Honours, all English programmes  

 

Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)? 

No 

Pre-requisite units 

Any combination of L1 core Drama or English modules 

Co-requisite units  

 

Aims

The unit aims to:  

  • Introduce students to some of the core techniques of visual story telling. 

  • Give students a basic understanding of the role of screenwriting within the contemporary film and TV industries.  

  • Broaden students’ knowledge and understanding of the short film as a genre. 

  • Encourage students to develop their own screenwriting skills through a supervised process of drafting and revision

Learning outcomes

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Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate a wider knowledge of short films and the history of the genre. 

  • Understand the core structure of a screenplay.  

  • Demonstrate a strong understanding of how stories work and how and why audiences respond to them. 

  • Understand how genre affects and guides story. 

Intellectual skills

  • Critique their own and others’ work effectively and constructively. 

  • Use their extended knowledge of short film history as a resource to develop and refine their own writing practice. 

  • Better understand the core techniques of visual story-telling 

Practical skills

  • Express themself effectively in written and oral form. 

  • Effectively revise their own work based on constructive criticism from their peers. 

  • Write a short film script that demonstrates an understanding of some of the core techniques of visual story-telling. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 

  • Write to a deadline and within the conventions of a certain genre. 

  • Understand storytelling skills that could be transferred to advertising, journalism, theatre or any other writing which is to persuade an audience. 

  • Work both independently and within a creative team. 

  • Express their own ideas with confidence and clarity.  

Employability skills

Group/team working
Ability to work independently and as part of a team, as part of creative and critical projects that present unpredictable and challenging scenarios;
Innovation/creativity
Creative thinking ¿ creative and critical approaches to problem-solving;
Leadership
Awareness of the importance of contributing to public life and demonstrating good citizenship ¿ our curriculum is socially and politically engaged, and encourages students to develop a sense of social responsibility in their professional and personal life;
Project management
Project management ¿ planning, undertaking, managing and evaluating projects;
Oral communication
Advanced communication skills ¿ verbal, written; prepared/rehearsed and improvised;
Written communication
Ability to present self and ideas effectively, including when dealing with complex and sensitive topics;
Other
Emotional intelligence ¿ ability to use emotional and cognitive capacities when approaching challenges;

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 70%
Written assignment (inc essay) 30%

Short film script  

Feedback methods

Verbal and written feedback on pitch and draft scenes 

Formative  

Peer and discursive feedback on writing exercises in workshops 

Formative  

Written feedback on final script submission and film critique 

Summative 

Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment) 

Formative and Summative 

 

 

Recommended reading

Craig Batty and Zara Walderback. 2019. Writing for the screen: creative and critical approaches. Red Globe Press 

Daniel Bernardi and Julian Hoxter. 2017. Off the page: Screenwriting in the era of media convergence. University of California Press 

Bridget Conor. 2014. Screenwriting: Creative Labour and Professional Practice. Routledge 

Rachel Alicia Griffen et al (eds). 2018. Adventures in Shondaland: Identity Politics and the Power of Representation. Rutgers University Press 

Steven Maras. 2016. Ethics in Screenwriting: New Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan 

Blake Snyder. 2005. Save the cat!: The last book on screenwriting you’ll ever need. Michael Weise Productions 

Natalie Wreyford. 2018. Gender Inequality in Screenwriting Work. Palgrave Macmillan 

 

Screen Studies database (Bloomsbury) 

 

For commentary on a more diverse group of screenwriters than are currently recognised in existing screenwriting textbooks and research, go to online sources such as gal-dem, thebritishblacklist.co.uk, and BFI Screenonline. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Tutorials 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

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