This is an intellectually and creatively stimulating course that gives students the opportunity to hone their writing for performance skills while also equipping them with the professional knowledge needed to negotiate the industry.
Why study Scriptwriting?
The MA is taught in seventeen weekends of intensive workshops. It is not, however, 'low residency'. There are as many hours of teaching as Bath Spa University's other Creative Writing MAs.
The course is taught at our beautiful Corsham Court campus where students also have access to the performance, capture and editing facilities. We also work closely with the Schools of Music and Performing Arts and Film and Media Production, and their students will have the opportunity to help act in and produce our work.
The course is full-time from October to September, or part-time over two years, and is taught in modules. The first trimester runs from October to January and there are two modules, each delivered in three intensive weekends.
The second trimester, from February to June, also has two modules, each again over three intensive weekends.
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. The most important is this script. The second is a 3,000 word essay explaining exactly where in the market it is aimed and how it is shaped to fit that niche. The third is a cold pitch for this script.
Dramatic Structure. This aims to give you an understanding of the full range of ways that plays and scripts can work. You are introduced to dialogue, character, genre, and the different media. But the emphasis is on how to tell a story - a well made plot. Students will read and view widely, but the academic side is not separate from the working side. This module is to help you write.
Theatre & Radio. This is devoted to students' own work, and much of the time we work on our feet. At the end of the trimester each student finishes a 45 to 60 minute play or radio script, and a 3,000 word essay that explains the structure of that script.
Professional Skills. All our experience is that the ability to write alone is not enough to make your way in the various industries of theatre, television, film and radio. You also need to be able to pitch, and to talk intelligently and flexibly about your own work and others'. One of our tutors facilitates this module, and various industry professionals come in for a day each to inform, rehearse and challenge you.
Workshop in Screenwriting. Here you write a script for film or television. We pay particular attention to genre, to the visual and time requirements of the screen, and to writing for particular markets. At the end of this trimester each student finishes 50 to 60 minutes of TV, or a short film script, or a treatment for a full-length film plus at least 45 minutes of polished script.
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.
Assessment is by coursework only. In the first two trimesters work will be assessed as work in progress. The final submission will be examined on the script (60%), and the essay on the market and the pitch (40%).
The MA in Scriptwriting is a professional training course for working writers. Most scriptwriters work across several media, and the course reflects this. All our tutors are working writers. 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.
All courses will be taught by intensive workshops. Over the years we have found this is far and away the most productive way of teaching writing. It is particularly suited to scriptwriting, which is very much a social and collective art.
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) writer for theatre and screen
- Steve May who writes radio and novels
- Robin Mukherjee who writes theatre, television and film
- Hattie Naylor who writes film, theatre, radio and opera libretti
- Jonathan Neale who writes theatre, radio and novels
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 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.
Please contact course director Ursula Rani Sarma:
Telephone: (01225) 876358.
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 one or two pieces of creative writing with their application form, about twenty pages in all. This can be part of a novel, short stories, poems, or script. Do not assume it has to be drama. Submit your best work rather than your best script.
What students say...
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.