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MA-Postgraduate Diploma Media (Screenwriting)

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  • Objectives
    Achieve a professional approach to screenwriting, work in a supportive environment and learn how to pitch ideas to industry. This is a course for writers specialising in drama - live action or animation - for film, television or interactive media. Lectures and screenings show the different ways in which sound and moving image work together to create meaning, and the use of genre. Research methods for writers and ways in which you can develop your own creative strategies for generating ideas and developing scripts are also covered. You will be encouraged to develop your ability to structure drama for different media, to create and develop characters, and to format your script professionally. You will learn how to present ideas both on paper and in pitching sessions. Lectures and seminars provide the tools to analyse both your own work and that of others, and to write script reports. The course also provides support in terms of a structured developmental process and deadlines to work to, and tutorial and seminar group advice and feedback. In collaboration with students from other strands of the MA Media programme, you will produce work for both animation and interactive media. Lectures are provided on the impact of new technologies on contemporary narratives, and developments in the ways in which these technologies are being used. Students may also attend lecturers from other parts of the Faculty's postgraduate programme, for instance in animation, interactive media or film studies. You will benefit from the input of visiting speakers with a variety of professional knowledge and experience, including writers for both film and television, script consultants, producers and agents.
  • Entry requirements
    We are looking for highly motivated creative students with proven skill and experience in creative writing and critical analysis. Usually applicants will have a relevant first degree but those with other academic qualifications or professional experience are also encouraged to apply. Please submit 10 pages of scripts with your application. This may be for film, theatre or radio, and be a complete short piece or an excerpt from a longer piece. Suitable candidates are invited to interview at which point you will have an opportunity of showing further evidence of your previous work. This may include scripts or storyboards, or work on video or DVD.
  • Academic Title
    MA/Postgraduate Diploma Media (Screenwriting)
  • Course description

    The MA Screenwriting programme is made up of five modules, which are taken across three semesters (full time) or six semesters (part time). Each module carries a credit weighting, and to qualify for an MA (Master of Arts) you will need to successfully complete each module to gain 180 credits.

    The modules are as follows:

    1. Introduction to Screenwriting (30 credits)
    A programme of viewings and lectures enables students to consider the ways in which moving image and sound convey meaning, how short and feature length films are structured, and how character and story are developed. Students research and develop a short film script through writing workshops, and a commitment to the reading and critique of scripts being worked on by the group is an integral requirement of the module. An opportunity is offered to pitch the project to a visiting industry professional.

    2. Option Module (30 credits)
    Choose from one of the following modules:

    -Research Methodologies in Visual Culture
    -Enterprise in the Creative Industries
    -Research Methods

    You will also design and construct a screen-based narrative in collaboration with students from other MA Media strands.

    3. Interactive Narratives (30 credits)
    Lectures and workshops introduce the concept of interactivity, and its current and potential applications are considered. The impact of interactivity on narrative structure, character development and scripting are also explored. You research and develop an idea, character or scenario for an interactive project through workshops and tutorials. Past projects have included ideas for web-based programs, computer games or interactive television, and installations. You may collaborate with students from the Interactive Media MA.

    4. Developing Practice: Screenwriting (30 credits)
    Students research the diverse forms of television drama – soaps, children's, sitcom, docudrama, single dramas, etc. – and consider the wider context in which its production and reception takes place. There will also be visits from professionals working in television drama. Through lectures and technical workshops students learn effective research techniques, and go on to research and develop a television drama concept. These ideas are refined and progressed through writers' workshops, and students are expected to take an active part in the critique of work from other members of the group, as well as responding to the process in their own work. Detailed documentation for this concept forms the basis of the submission for assessment.

    Narrative shape and pace, the revealing of character and its relationship to plot, and the function of dialogue and mise en scene are also further explored.

    Information is provided on how to design and implement strategies for the development of their practice, how to undertake textual analysis and how to construct a bibliography. Journals are kept throughout the module to support the development of a personal database for further reflection.

    5. Extended Practice in Screenwriting (60 credits)
    You will negotiate a personal project for one of the following narrative forms: feature film, television series or interactive narrative. Film or television projects may be for live action or animation. In writing workshops, you present your work in progress and give written and oral feedback on others'.

    You will research and prepare an extended treatment for your project, which will include a story synopsis and character profiles. It is expected that the project will be at first draft stage by the completion of the module. The minimum assessment requirement is for research notes, appropriate documentation according to the nature of the project, and the full script for a number of key scenes.

    Teaching and learning
    You are taught through a series of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and projects.

    The course is taught at Bower Ashton Campus which provides tutorial space, computing and viewing facilities. You also have access to the School's Media Centre, EPI Centre, 3D Centre, Print Centre and library.

    This programme will enable you to:

    -Develop creative writing skills through the exploration of a range of different formats;
    -Understand the pre-production process:
    -Study a variety of narrative structures and their potential application;
    -Have the opportunity to collaborate with students working in other pathways;
    -Improve skills in pitching, script editing and the presentation of ideas.

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