Screenwriting MA



Develop skills in writing, script-editing and project development for the film, television and digital fiction industries

Overview

The MA Screenwriting was launched at Edinburgh Napier University in 2006 and has adapted and developed since then to become one of the strongest screenwriting Masters courses on offer in the UK.

This course is industry recognised by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based industries and carries the ScreenSkills Select endorsement which indicates courses best suited to prepare students for a career in the screen industries.

The course is studied at the Screen Academy Scotland, a ScreenSkills recognised Film Academy.

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.

Typical entry point to this course is in September. Please enquire for more information.

To ensure there is sufficient time to process your application, we encourage you to submit your application by the end of June.

Three people smiling for the camera at the Screen Academy Scotland  event

Mode of Study:

Full-time (available as Part-time)

Duration:

1 year

Start date:

Sep

Course details

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

Collaboration is encouraged and MA Screenwriters work closely with students on the MA Film programme.

The MA Screenwriting 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

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

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    How you’ll be taught

    The course is taught two days a week (currently Thursdays and Fridays).

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    Assessments

    A range of assessments cover screenwriting (short form, TV and film), industry documents (script reports, coverage) as well as other professionally-focused reports (a case study on your chosen area) and academic writing.

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    Facilities

    MA Screenwriting is taught in the Screen Academy, just around the corner from the Merchiston campus, and is equipped with state-of-the-art editing and production equipment.

    Please visit the Screen Academy Scotland website for details of permanent staff and visiting lecturers. 


Modules

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

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 2 ( SCA11105 )

Over the course of a series of workshops, seminars and tutorials you will develop a portfolio of material with a focus on television. You will set writing exercises, deliver homework and receive feedback from tutors, visiting guests and fellow students.

Over 12 weeks, students develop a thirty-minute script from idea to polished final draft. Students are encouraged to read and feedback on each others work in weekly workshops. Tutors will also give feedback with individual tutorials scheduled throughout the trimester.

The focus of this module is on the craft of screenwriting. It aims to develop students’ technical skills and a critical awareness of the various possibilities and demands of the form.

Students engage in project research (for their scripts) but also develop a critical awareness of the changing market for film and television in the UK and beyond.

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

Writing for Graphic Fiction ( CLP11109 )

This module introduces you to and enhances your understanding of writing for the medium of graphic fiction. You will begin by developing core skills and techniques for creating graphic fiction narratives. Frequent writing challenges will help hone your critical self-reflexivity, aided by formative masterclass feedback. Visiting speakers will discuss their processes and career paths, illustrating the range of opportunities and individual approaches that flourish in this medium. You will be encouraged to forge creative partnerships enhancing your collaborative skills. Writing graphic fiction for particular markets and building challenging audience expectations is the focus during the final weeks of this module.

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.

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Disclaimer

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

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for Screenwriting?

The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above in any discipline.

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)

Can I get admission into Screenwriting based on my working experience in this sector?

This course has academic entry requirements which are assessed alongside relevant work experience. Full details of any relevant work experience, including references should be submitted with your application and may be considered for entry where the minimum academic entry requirements are below those required.

Usually, unrelated work experience is not considered sufficient for entry without meeting the minimum academic entry requirements. Please contact us with your specific circumstances by submitting an enquiry form above and we will be happy to discuss your options.

Can I make an appointment with an advisor to discuss further about the admission process?

If you want to get more information on the admission process, please get in touch with the postgraduate admissions team by submitting an enquiry form above.

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, excluding Writing which must be 7.0 or above.  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.

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students From 2024/25 2025/26
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £7,280 £tba
Overseas and EU £18,800 £tba
Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next. For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships
The University offers a 20% discount on Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes. The discount can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount. For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.


Please note:

The discount for Edinburgh Napier alumni can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount.

For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.

Please read our full T&C here

Careers

  • Screenwriter 
  • Television writer
  • Producer
  • Script development

Students chatting and laughing whilst sitting at tables at merchiston entrance