MA Screenwriting

Postgraduate, Part-time

Create a portfolio of scripts, develop skills in writing, editing and project development and gain working knowledge of the film, television and digital fiction industries.

  • Napier code:

    54708MM

  • Course type:

    Part-time

  • Duration:

    2 years

  • Award:

    MA

  • Location:

    Merchiston campus

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Course introduction

MA Screenwriting was launched at Edinburgh Napier in 2006 and has adapted and developed since to remain one of the strongest screenwriting Masters courses on offer in the UK. The degree is accredited by Creative Skillset and taught at Screen Academy Scotland - one of only three Creative Skillset Film Academies in the UK and the only one outside London.

While the course is primarily for aspiring screenwriters, it is also aimed at those interested in script editing, script development and creative producing.

Teaching staff are working screenwriters and producers and there are regular visits from professional writers, producers, directors and those working in script editing and development.


screen writing

The course has developed a strong international profile, attracting a diverse range of students and as a student at Screen Academy Scotland you will be part of a large and thriving film community.

Collaboration is encouraged and our MA Screenwriters work closely with students on the MA Film programme as well as students at Edinburgh College of Art.

The course will develop skills in screenwriting, creativity, analytical thinking, academic writing, professional writing for film (script reports, coverage), editing and developmental skills.

In summary, the MA Screenwriting:

  • takes a general approach across film, television and other media
  • develops the core craft skills for screenwriting
  • enhances script editing and story development skills
  • places teaching and student work in an industry context
  • introduces students to staff and industry guests working as writers, producers, directors and in script development at a high, professional level

The course is taught two days a week (currently Thursdays and Fridays). Part-time students attend classes on Thursdays in Year 1 and Fridays in Year 2.

Please visit the Screen Academy Scotland website for more details on our programmes, students and industry activities.

Subjects include

  • Writing and Screen Project Development (craft skills)
  • Business of Screen Project Development (industry context)
  • Script Workshop 1 and 2 (practical screenwriting)
  • Script to Screen (theory and critique)
  • Interactive Media or Graphic Fiction
  • Major Project (feature film or long form TV script)

Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

Our students have gone on to success in various competitions, winning the PAGE International Screenwriting Award for five years. Former graduates work as self-employed writers for television drama and have gone on to find agents. Others are working professionally in script development and production.

You can find more details on the Screen Academy Scotland website


The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at a 2:2 or above.  We look for applicants to have a background in creative writing, journalism, filmmaking or drama in order to be eligible for the programme.

We may also consider lesser qualifications if you have sufficient relevant work experience within the industry.

You will also be required to attend an interview, and/or be asked to show evidence of an aptitude for the course, appropriate experience, and an indication of how you might benefit from the course.

As part of the application process you will need to submit the following with your application:

  • A personal statement outlining why you want to write for the screen (maximum 300 words)
  • An outline for a feature film or single television drama (maximum one page)
  • A writing sample - this may be a short film script or an excerpt from a feature film script or television drama (maximum 10 pages)

English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test.  The English Language requirements for this programme are IELTS (Academic) with an overall score of 7.0 with no individual component score of less than 6.5.  For guidance on the acceptability of other English Language tests please contact pgadmissions@napier.ac.uk

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

Our entry requirements indicate the minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

International students

If your qualifications aren't listed above, visit our country pages to get entry requirements for your country.

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:

BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)

BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We are committed to being as accessible as possible to anyone who wants to achieve higher education.

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures and how decisions are made.


Tuition fees
Students from 2017/18 2018/19
Home/EU Stage 1 £1,700 £2,660
Home/EU Stage 2 £2,050 £3,190
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Home EU - Total Fee £3,750 £5,850
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Stage 1 £5,679 £5,850
Stage 2 £6,941 £7,150
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Overseas - Total Fee £12,620 £13,000
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This course comprises of 180 credits from taught modules and a dissertation. The total fee you will pay is dependant upon the exit award you wish to achieve.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fees
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

Modules that you will study as part of this course*

From Script to Screen ( SCA11104 )

In this module you will look at storytelling and screenwriting for film and television in various contexts - historical, social, cultural, scholarly and theoretical. You will develop the skills to examine the practices and products of screenwriting from a critical perspective and to use this to inform your own work and practice. The module is delivered as a mixture of lectures, seminars and screenings from Screen Academy staff and guest lecturers. The module is broadly divided into two parts, each of which leads a written assessment: The first focuses on considerations of genre. Student presentations will be used as the basis for seminar discussion. Students will consider genre from various perspectives – academic, commercial and (as screenwriters) practical. Students will produce a written essay on an aspect of genre that interests them. The second part of the module focuses on screenwriting craft, technique and theory. The influence of screenwriting theorists (e.g. Robert McKee) will be considered and debated as will the work of individual screenwriters (e.g. William Goldman, Josh Weedon). Technical aspects of screenwriting craft will also be studied with illustrative examples from screenings, handouts etcetera. Students will produce a case study at the end of the module focussing on either the work of a particular screenwriter OR screenwriting theorist OR the application of a particular screenwriting technique OR a critical study of a particular adaptation.

Further information

Interactive Media ( SCA11117 )

This module provides producers and screen-writers knowledge and first hand experience of developing content for the professional interactive industries. On the module students will identify current interactive concept development processes and practices; plan and present an interactive proposal at professional level; develop appropriate project management and research skills. Students develop knowledge of key roles within the interactive industry and an ability to critically evaluate interactive projects.

Further information

Major Project ( SCA11106 )

This module forms a significant element of the course and is your opportunity to undertake a major piece of creative work in the final trimester. Over the summer trimester, you will produce a substantial piece of written work in your chosen medium – for film, television or new media. The completed work will provide the key element in the creative portfolio of projects you have built up over the course. In effect, this module allows you to utilise the tools, the techniques - and the confidence – that you have built up over the previous modules. It is your chance to write your ‘calling card’ script – the essential element for the un-produced writer in approaching future producers, developers or agents. There is no formal teaching in this module: you will have access to your tutor (face-to-face, via email or online) at key points in the trimester. Students write and develop a substantial written project in one of the following areas: Feature Film Screenplay Single Television drama or Series Pilot Episode + Series Outline. Detailed Interactive or New Media Project Screen Academy students are encouraged to take up the offer of a heavily-discounted Industry Pass to the Edinburgh International Film Festival (in June, annually) which provides an excellent opportunity for a vast range of extra-curricular educational opportunities - viewing films, assessing the current market, attending guest lectures and industry-focussed sessions, networking, making contacts, pitching projects, etc. The Major Project is the culmination of the work done in the other modules in Trimesters 1 and 2 resulting, ideally, in a significant and substantial piece of work which can serve either as a live project in search of development finance and partners/collaborators in the professional world - or as a 'calling card' spec script to attract further interest in the writer and his/her work or, for example, to secure the services of a literary agent. This piece of writing is complimented by the final piece of assessment - an essay or Reflective Report of 2000 words - in which the writer can look back on their learning, identify areas for further work, study or development and look forward, with a real sense of self-knowledge and authority, on possible career paths. The completion of the student's PDP forms an appendix to this Reflective Report and concludes the formal assessment for this module and the course.

Further information

Script workshop 1 ( SCA11102 )

In this module, using the short film as a model, students are guided through a professional development process from idea to a polished first draft script. In weekly workshops students follow a process which mirrors that of a professional screenwriter as they generate ideas and develop their projects producing a series of documents – premise, synopsis, outline, step outline or treatment and various drafts of a short 10 minute film script. This written work is regularly circulated and work-shopped in small groups: If you are studying in blended form this will be achieved online, this process develops and enhances the projects, stimulates team-working and collaboration and helps develop the student’s own writing but also their story-, script-editing and inter-personal skills. There is a research element in which students are encouraged to engage in original research (to generate material for their scripts) but also to critically appraise and assess the various types of research that a writer might undertake as part of their process. This module encourages students to work collaboratively with other students on courses within Edinburgh Napier University, Screen Academy Scotland, Edinburgh College of Art, the wider Screen Academy network and, beyond that, to experience direct contact with professionals from the film, television and interactive/new media industries. In weekly workshops students follow a process which mirrors that of a professional screenwriter as they generate ideas and develop their projects producing a series of documents - premise, synopsis, outline, step outline or treatment and various drafts of a short 10-15 minute film script. This written work is regularly circulated and work-shopped in small groups: this process develops and enhances the projects, stimulates team-working and collaboration and helps develop the student's own writing but also their story-, script-editing and inter-personal skills. There is a research element in which students are encouraged to engage in original research (to generate material for their scripts) but also to critically appraise and assess the various types of research that a writer might undertake as part of their process. Occasionally, the workshop sessions are interspersed with visits from guest speakers - professional writers, producers and script developers - who will sometimes work alongside the students in set exercises or work-shops to develop specific aspects of the craft, e.g. character, dialogue or pitching. These events may occur out with the timetabled class. This module also allows space for and encourages students to work collaboratively with other students on courses within Napier University, Screen Academy Scotland, Edinburgh College of Art, the wider Screen Academy network and, beyond that, to experience direct contact with professionals from the film, television and interactive/new media industries.

Further information

SCRIPT WORKSHOP 2A ( SCA11107 )

Over a series of weekly workshops, students develop their own projects from idea to polished first draft. The workshops are project-driven and student-centred with students presenting work on a weekly basis for peer review, comments and critique. Students read and, on occasion, write script reports on each other's work. Students are encouraged to engage in project-driven research but also research of a more contextual nature. The workshops may be interspersed with seminars, screenings, masterclasses, guest lectures and tutorials. The module aims to develop students' understanding of the challenges of longer form screenplays in relation to subject, depth, complexity and audience appeal and there is an emphasis on sharing knowledge and practical and craft skills. In relation to its partner module, SW2B, this module may have a greater emphasis on film over television.

Further information

SCRIPT WORKSHOP 2B ( SCA11108 )

Over a series of weekly workshops, students develop their own projects from idea to polished first draft. The workshops are project-driven and student-centred with students presenting work on a weekly basis for peer review, comments and critique. Students read and, on occasion, write script reports on each other's work. This module gives students on the part-time route the opportunity to write a new piece of work or to start development work towards the major project. The workshops may be interspersed with seminars, screenings, masterclasses, guest lectures and tutorials. The module aims to develop students' understanding of the challenges of longer form screenplays in relation to subject, depth, complexity and audience appeal and there is an emphasis on sharing knowledge and practical and craft skills. In relation to its partner module, SW2A, this module may have a greater emphasis on television over film.

Further information

The Business of Screen Project Development ( SCA11101 )

The module is delivered as a series of weekly sessions combining lectures, seminars and visits from industry guests. Introductory lectures provide students with a broad contextual overview of the various institutions, structures and key personnel in the film and television industries. You will examine the make-up of the film industry in the UK and internationally and critically explore how films are financed. In television, you will examine the make-up of the industry and the relationship between broadcasters and independent production companies. There will be sessions on legal affairs relevant to screenwriters and producers in development, examining copyright, option and assignment agreements. Seminars and sessions with industry guests then provide students with case studies of current industry practice across a range of key areas – screenwriting in various contexts, script editing and development, the various producer roles, the legal framework in which development takes place. These will give you insight into how the industry works and will also inform your own professional development. The assessments for the module require a high level of independent learning and are designed to help students develop a strong sense of the various contexts for their own creative and professional development. A Market Analysis encourages strategic research into the potential markets for their own work or skillset. Students also undertake either a Case Study or a Script Development Proposal, which informs their own personal, creative and professional development. This module may be taken as an option by MA Film students.

Further information

Writing and Screen Project Development ( SCA11100 )

A series of lectures and seminars introduce students to the language, concepts and skills commonly used in the development of projects for the screen whether in film or television, drama or documentary, or any of the various new media and interactive forms. You will examine the key elements, skills and terminology of dramatic screenwriting (premise, pitch, character, structure, theme, visual style, genre, dialogue, etc) and review the key documents generated in the development and commissioning process (idea, concept, premise, outline, proposal, detailed proposal, treatment, first draft, revised draft, etc.). There is a critical exploration of the role and importance of research in screen project development – research as it relates to the project content of the project (e.g documentary, adaptation, historical drama) but also research relating to the market potential of the project itself. The module aims to develop the critical and practical abilities needed in screen project development: an understanding of the language and terminology; personal and interpersonal skills; a critical understanding of the various roles in the creative and industrial process; a sense of the market place across the various forms and formats. Crucially, the critical, analytical and inter-personal skills required key personnel in the development process (writers, producers, script-editors, developers, and financiers) are examined and then developed and tested in a series of exercises, including the module’s major pieces of assessment – the Story Report and Script Report. Students also develop an understanding of the various jobs, roles and career opportunities across the film, television and interactive/new media industries. Subject to available resources, students across the Screen Academy programmes may attend a series of talks and seminars given by visiting speakers as part of the Professional Practice programme, e.g. composers, editors, writers, producers, distributors, games developers, literary and casting agents, etc. Lecture content is interwoven with seminars, workshops, screenings and exercises which encourage students to reflect on how they might practice and apply these tools, concepts and skills to their own work and live projects: this work is carried across into the more practical Script Workshop and Project Workshop modules. This module is a core element of the MA Screenwriting programme and is offered as an option to MA Film students, encouraging the development of collaborative skills across the creative disciplines and providing an opportunity to form creative teams.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.