Scriptwriting

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The MA in Scriptwriting is a dynamic, creative and practical course that offers students the chance to hone their writing for performance skills while also acquiring the necessary professional knowledge needed to negotiate the industry. Alongside completing a minimum of three polished scripts for theatre, radio and TV/Film, students also meet scriptwriting agents and industry specialists and learn how best to pitch their work in a highly competitive field. The MA also has a practical element in recognition of the importance of equipping Scriptwriters with the knowledge of how to produce their own work. Students have the opportunity to record their own radio plays, stage their theatre pieces and shoot and edit their TV/Film projects within the supportive environment of the University. 

Success Stories
Graduate at Edinburgh Fringe
Graduate of last year's MA in Scriptwriting Richard Sheridan has had great success at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. The play "Odd Shaped Balls" .....read more

Graduate wins at Glastonbury Five Day Film Challenge
Rachel Whitelock a graduate in MA Scriptwriting recently won Best Film, Best Script and People's Choice in the Glastonbury Five Day Film Challenge. Rachel wrote and directed ....read more

 

 

 

 

Why study Scriptwriting?

Bath Spa University is one of the leading institutions for the teaching of Creative Writing. Led by award-winning Scriptwriters such as Ursula Rani Sarma, Robin Mukherjee, Christopher William Hill and Hattie Naylor, the MA in Scriptwriting is taught at weekends at our beautiful campus in Corsham Court. The MA has the perfect mix of creative and practical tuition and we aim to produce exceptional and original Scriptwriters who are able to pitch, sell and produce their own work. Some past students who have recently seen their work produced include Brittany McComas (Second City This Week), Julie Bainbridge (Trail End, Guilt) and Kirsten Stoddardt (BRB).

The MA in Scriptwriting offers students the chance to meet with industry experts from organisations such as the BBC Writersroom and Channel 4 as well as theatre companies ranging from the Soho Theatre London to the Bristol Old Vic. This is a greeat opportunity for students to begin to build professional connections and to begin to pitch and sell their work. 

KEY FEATURES

- Taught at weekends at our beautiful campus in Corsham Court

- Led by award winning working Scriptwriters who merge creative tuition with industry know-how

- Opportunities to forge links with industry professionals and scriptwriting agents

- The chance to work with professional actors and to use the University's resources to self produce your own work

- We offer all our students a copy of Final Draft software 

- One year full-time; two years part-time

 

 

 

Course structure

The MA in Scriptwriting is a full-time course that runs from October to September. It can also be completed part-time over two years.

The MA consists of five modules each delivered in three intensive weekends at our campus in Corsham Court. 

The first trimester runs from October to January and has two modules, Dramatic Structure and Theatre and Radio. 

The second trimester runs from February to June and has two modules,  Professional Skills and Final Script. 

The third trimester runs from June to the end of September. Here there is only one double module, the Final Script Workshop.

The final assessment is based on three things: a final script (60%); a practical realisation of the students work (30%); and a pitch (10%).

 

Modules

Trimester 1

Dramatic Structure. This module aims to give you a comprehensive understanding of how dramatic structure works within scriptwriting. You are introduced to dialogue, character, genre, and to the different mediums of theatre, radio, TV/Film. The emphasis here is to learn the basic tools necessary to tell a story in dramatic form. Students will be asked to read and view widely alongside the workshops for this module to help them to understand dramatic structure in principe and practise. Students are assessed for this module on a 5,000 word essay.

Theatre & Radio. This module is devoted to developing and workshoping students own work for the theatre and radio.  Students are expected to read and comment on each others work and to voice their thougths and suggestions throughout the workshops.  Students are assessed for this module on a 45 to 60 minute play or radio script.

Trimester 2

Professional Skills.This module will show writers how to develop a career across a range of creative industries such as film, theatre, radio, television and gaming. They will learn how to pitch their ideas, to discuss their work engagingly and how to respond to notes and feedback constructively. They will be working with professional practitioners during the course to gain a real insight into what it means to be a professional writer in a variety of competitive Students will also choose a particular market, research it and use that material to write a 2,500 word essay which reflects their knowledge and insight into that market. This essay is marked as part of the course assessment alongside a Pitch exam. 

Writing for the Screen. This module is devoted to developing and workshoping students own work for TV and Film.  We pay particular attention to genre and the importance of visual storytelling. As before, students are expected to read and comment on each others work and to voice their thougths and suggestions throughout the workshops.  Students are assessed for this module on a 30 to 60 minutes of a screenplay for TV or Film. 

Trimester 3

Final script. In this module each student writes a full length play, a full length film script, or the equivalent in television or radio. This script can be a development and reworking of earlier pieces, but will often be completely new work.

The final script can be for any medium. 

The students work together to organise a showcase for September where they each produce a short exceprt of their work which can be for either radio, theatre, or TV/Film. 

The pitch is done in a simulated industry conditions and is usually for the student's Final Script.

Course assessment

Assessment is by coursework and practical presentation. In the first two trimesters work will be assessed as work in progress. The final submission will be examined on the script (60%), the practical presentation (30%) and the pitch (10%).

The MA in Scriptwriting is a professional training course taught at weekends by award winning Scriptwriters. All of our tutors are produced Scriptwriters across the mediums of Theatre, Radio, Film and TV. Our Professional Skills tutors and guest speakers are experts in their individual areas and have worked with organisations such as the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, The National Theatre, The Traverse Theatre and Soho Theatre amongst many others. We teach in small workshop groups where students receive individual detailed feedback on their scripts as they develop. 

We aim to turn out writers who understand the structure and craft of drama, have a finished script they can use as a calling card, know the industry in all its variety, and can pitch and sell their work.

TEACHING METHODS

The course is modular can be undertaken as either full or part-time study. Part-time students take the Dramatic Structure and Writing for the Screen modules in their first year and Theatre and Radio, Professional Skills and Final Script in their second year. 

Modules are taught over three weekends of intensive tutor-led workshops. 

In the Professional Skills module, a tutor will guide the students through the workshops while also inroducing a range of visiting guest speakers, script editors, producers, agentd etc. 

 

Teaching methods

All courses will be taught by intensive weekend workshops. 

Tutors and Visiting Professionals

All of our tutors are writers working in the industry. Among those working on the course will be:

  • Ursula Rani Sarma (Course Director): Ursula is an award winning writer for Theatre, Radio, TV and Film. Her plays include The Dark Things, Blue, The Spider Men, The Magic Tree, ...touched..., Orpheus Road, RIOT, The Ripple Effect and Yerma. Her Radio Drama includes Car Four, A Tiny Light in the Darkness and The Fisherman. Her TV writing includes Ecosse Film's RAW for RTE from 2009-2012. Her film work includes Anywhere But Here, The Woods and The Trial.  
  • Robin Mukherjee. Robin is an award winning writer for theatre, television and film. His film work includes Swara Mandel and Lore (Australian Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Australia’s official entry for the 2012 American Academy Awards.) His writing for TV includes The Bill, Casualty, Eastenders, The Royal, Medics, Boon, Backup, Harry, Where The Heart Is and Combat Kids, a three part original serial for CBBC, produced by Lime Pictures was nominated for a BAFTA in the category of Best Children’s Drama in 2011.  
  • Christopher William Hill. Christopher is an award winning writer for theatre, radio and he is also a published novelist. His work for theatre includes Mister Holgado, Exotic Tastes, Heartbreak Beautiful, Inglorious Technicolour and Multiplex. His Radio Drama includes Angarrack, Fact to Fiction, Marmalade for Comrade Philby, Says on the Tim, and Tomorrow, Today. 
  • Hattie Naylor. Hattie is an award winning writer for theatre, radio and opera. Her plays include Ivan and the Dogs, Bluebeard, Going Dark, Comfort, Mother Savage, The Country of the Blind and The Odyssey. Her opera work includes The 
    Overcoat, Piccard in Space
    and Odysseus Unwound.  
  • Tanya Nash. Tanya is a script editor and producer for TV and Radio Drama. She was a producer in the radio drama department of the BBC for ten years, working in Wales, Northern Ireland and Birmingham. She produced a wide variety of drama including Holby City and Eastenders

In the second semester we have visits from several professionals in the industry. Each conducts a one-day workshop with students, outlining the industry and giving them rigorous practice in pitching their work. Typically, we will have an agent, a TV producer, a radio producer, a theatre director or literary manager, and a film script editor.

Application method

Application forms are available online and should be completed and returned to us either electronically or through the post. If you have any queries please contact the admissions department:

Telephone: (01225) 875624.

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

Please contact course director Ursula Rani Sarma:

Telephone: (01225) 876358.

Entry requirements

Most students accepted onto the course will have either a first degree or a thorough professional training in acting, theatre, television, or film. Some students, however, will be accepted on the basis of equivalent life experience. Applicants are asked to submit a twenty page script sample with their application form written for any medium. 

Career opportunities

There are several career options open to our graduates. While many of our students want to forge a career for themselves as professional Scriptwriters, others wish to work within the area of Script Editing / Development, theatre and film criticism or within education. Our past students have found work in a variety of these areas from seeing their own theatre work produced in local and international theatres and festivals to writing comedy sketches for prominent LA comedy shows and writing, directing and producing their own web series. Over the past five years several of our students have gone on to have their work produced and some have even managed to do this while still completing their MA. Others have found work within the script departments of TV/Film and Theatre Companies while others work as script readers, theatre/film reviewers and as creative writing tutors. 

What students say...

In our first class on the MA Scriptwriting, we were asked what one thing we wanted to get out of the course. My answer was, "I want to learn how to finish a script!" Well, I finished three full scripts during my MA, and have seen my work performed in an international theatre festival, in regional theatres, in a pub cellar, and online. I have learned the art of discipline in writing, and found the group feedback sessions particularly rewarding. I consider myself lucky to have worked and learned with a talented group of writers and supportive tutors.

Kirsten Stoddart, MA Scriptwriting 2013

I chose to do my MA in Scriptwriting at Bath Spa University because it offered a module in Professional Skills. That’s what makes it stand out from the other courses offered around the country. Being made to pitch to a range of industry professionals and developing a personal network of contacts for the assignment was a nerve-wracking experience but terrific preparation for a career in scriptwriting. Since finishing the course, that network of contacts has been vital in launching my career. Let’s face it, it’s a tough world for a new scriptwriter and no matter how good your writing, you’ve got to be able to force your way into the market to get your work recognised. The MA helped me to develop three good scripts which I’ve been able to use as calling cards with theatre and television companies. I was very anxious about the MA Showcase Event, as producing my work was way out of my comfort zone. I’d much rather be closeted away in my garret with my characters. But what you get out of the MA depends on how hard you’re prepared to work. I used the experience as a way of experimenting with self production and a safe place to make my mistakes. It paid off because as a direct result of the event, I was invited to produce my work at The Bierkeller Theatre in Bristol and was commissioned to write Trail End which was performed in Cardiff and funded by National Theatre Wales. My MA final piece, Guilt, was shortlisted for the Theatre24:7 Festival and nominated by The Writers Guild of Great Britain as a ‘Play of Promise’. They organised a rehearsed reading at the Leicester Square Theatre which was very exciting and helped broaden my network of industry professionals. The MA Scriptwriting at Bath Spa is a tough course. It’s exhausting. But if you want to make it as a scriptwriter you’ve got to have the motivation and determination to see it through. It’s worth it when you see your work coming alive on the stage. I’ve been guest lecturing in scriptwriting at my local university which I’ve really enjoyed and I’m writing theatre reviews for the Wales Arts Review which helps me to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry. This summer I’m developing a play for an open-air performance tour. It’s a new experience for me, but doing the MA taught me to take risks and explore new ventures. It’s exciting. www.Juliebainbridge.com

Julie Bainbridge, MA Scriptwriting 2013

Before coming to Bath Spa I was a professional actor and singer. I recorded in Nashville TN, and I even worked for Disney. I have a BFA in Theatre from West Virginia University. After an independent study in the U.S. with playwright Frank Gagliano, I thought Bath Spa to be the perfect place to further my education in scriptwriting.

Bath Spa is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The faculty and administration made me feel at home here, and I knew I would receive a well rounded education in Scriptwriting. The tutors are amazing, and they don't spoon feed you. In the industry of writing, you can't expect jobs to fall in your lap. The course has taught me to make contacts and to go out and find everything I am looking for. Thus far it has already helped my career in ways that I never thought possible.

Bath Spa offers an immense selection of things to do when you are not studying; from donating a day on the weekend to charity; participating in the Bath festivals; to sports; the Students' Union nights; or filming a television series with industry professionals. I loved every minute I spent at Bath Spa.

Brittany McComas, MA Scriptwriting 2009.

 I chose the course because of my passion for writing scripts, the calibre of teaching at Bath Spa and to enhance my career prospects. I would say that one of the best things about it was meeting professional industry workers because this has enabled me to start networking. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to produce completed pieces of work that I can use as a calling card once I leave Bath Spa. I also studied my undergraduate degree at Bath Spa, achieving a 2:1 in Creative Writing and Drama Studies. I became impressed with my development as a writer over the three years.

The teaching environment and the way that students are encouraged as writers by the lecturers to get their work out into the real world is fantastic. Since finishing the course I have self published a book and now work as a freelance copywriter and English tutor. The MA has given me the ability and confidence to believe in my own work. The contacts I have made are invaluable as is the understanding and knowledge I now have of working in the film, theatre and television industry. I would encourage anyone who has a passion for creative writing to come to Bath Spa, regardless of age.

Gemma Middleton, MA Scriptwriting 2008.