BA Art History and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Introduction to Screenwriting

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL31951
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This course offers Level 3 students a practical introduction to screenwriting and the opportunity to write a short film. 

Students learn the core techniques of visual story-telling through reading, watching and analysing short and feature films. The unit explores the distinctive characteristics - and the aesthetic and industrial contexts - of writing for the screen.

Students will develop their own writing skills through a series of focused writing exercises that will be critiqued in class. Students will be introduced to some of the major theories of story design, and be taught how to develop their work draft by draft. Weekly classes will cover (among other issues) the classic three act structure, beginnings and endings, the importance of genre, universal themes and their audience relevance, and dialogue. 

Students will be expected 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 is provided. Each student will write an original short film script for their final assessment.

Aims

  • to introduce students to some of the core techniques of visual story telling
  • to give students a basic understanding of the role of screenwriting within the contemporary  film and TV industries.
  • to broaden students’ knowledge and understanding of the short film as a genre.
  • to encourage students to develop their own screenwriting skills through a supervised process of drafting and revision.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will:

  • Have a wider knowledge of short films and the history of the genre.
  • Understand the core structure of a screenplay.
  • Have a strong understanding of how stories work and how and why audiences respond to them.
  • Understand how genre affects and guides story. 

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • 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

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Express themselves effectively in written and oral form
  • Effectively revise their own work based on constructive criticism from their peers.
  • Write a short film script which demonstrates an understanding of some of the core techniques of visual story-telling.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Write to a deadline and within the conventions of a certain genre.
  • Understand storytelling skills which 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

Project management
Having taken this course students will be able to demonstrate an ability to formulate, refine and complete an extended project by acquiring specialist knowledge and by workshopping ideas in a group environment.
Oral communication
Unit enhances student employability by giving students a range of transferable skills including: logical thought; construction of an argument supported by evidence; good oral and written communication and presentation skills, resourcefulness in the ability to gather, interpret, analyse and/or evaluate critical sources; time management and independent learning skills.
Written communication
Having taken this course students will be able to demonstrate an enhanced capacity to communicate effectively in writing.
Other
This course unit will give students an initial, basic training in screenwriting craft. If students are interested in pursuing a career in the film and TV industries, and wish to learn more about writing feature films and TV scripts, this course is a very good preparation for further study at MA level. The visual story-telling techniques discussed in the seminars may also be useful and relevant for students thinking of careers in advertising or marketing.

Assessment methods

Formative: 

First 3 pages of an original short film script 

Summative:

Film Analysis essay - 30%

Original short film screenplay - 70%

Feedback methods

- Written feedback via email and oral feedback in class relating to formative assessment above and to work in development.

Numerical grade and written comments on both screenplay and film analysis within 15 working days

Recommended reading

On Film Making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director  

Alexander Mackendrick  

Main Library: Blue Area Floor 4 (791.45 M46)  

The Calling Card Script: A Writer’s Toolbox For Stage Screen and Radio  

Paul Ashton  

Main Library Blue Area Floor 4 (791.44 A4)  

Save The Cat! The Only Book on Screenwriting You Will Ever Need  

Blake Snyder  

Main Library Blue Area Floor 4 (791.44 S6) 

Three Uses of the Knife (Diaries, Letters and Essays): On the Nature and Purpose of Drama   

David Mamet  

Main Library Blue Area Floor 3 (808.2 M30)  

On Story: Screenwriters and their craft  

Barbara Morgan  

Main Library Blue Area Floor 4 (791.4673 M59)  

Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting  

Syd Field  

Main Library Blue Area Floor 4 (791.44 F1)  

The Hollywood Standard: the complete and authoritative guide to script format and style.   

Christopher Riley   

Main Library Blue Area Floor 4 (791.43 R4) 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Demonstration 20
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 147

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Tim Price Unit coordinator

Additional notes

 

Please note, to take this course unit you need a mark of 60 or above in ENGL20001/2 (Creative Writing: Fiction), ENGL20901/2 (Creative Writing: Poetry) or DRAM21141/2 (Playmaking)

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