MFA Playwriting

Postgraduate, Full-time

Playwriting MFA

Our two-year MFA gives you the opportunity to launch your career as a playwright with a full run in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.


This course has been launched to extend a great opportunity for trainee playwrights.

Working in the heart of the festival city, there will be time to work with actors on all years of the BA Acting & English and the BA Acting for Stage & Screen courses.

You will be working in a variety of ways alongside trainee directors to workshop and stage new work. 

You'll have dedicated, industry-recognised mentors providing support throughout your training time and you’ll be studying in one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world.

The two-year duration gives you time to truly develop skills and creativity, and also allows you to network and build relationships with actors and directors who can make an impact on your career after you graduate.

Applications submitted after 31 July 2020 are not guaranteed to be considered for September 2020 entry.

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Mode of Study:




2 years

Start date:


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Course details

We believe that there is no standard approach to the training of playwrights.  The art is a combination of creative, textual, and communicative acuity and every writer is unique.  For that reason the course is designed to be individually responsive to each student’s interests and experience.  Most modules are heavily mentor-based, which means that you always have advice, expertise, and guidance on hand as you explore your artistic potential.  

The courses are taught by a team of industry professionals:

  • Mark Thomson (Directing) has worked with most of the great names in British theatre and served as Artistic Director of Edinburgh's prestigious Lyceum Theatre for 13 years. 
  • May Sumbwanyambe is an award-winning playwright currently working with the National Theatre of Scotland, the Traverse, and the BBC, to name just a few.


  • Dramatic Story and Structure
  • Script Analysis
  • Applied Playwriting
  • Professional Preparation
  • Festival Production
  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    The course is structured over five trimesters and along with many opportunities to write in various styles on a number of projects, you'll learn by a variety of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials and independent study.

  • note and pen Assessments

    The majority of your assessments are based on a variety of writing challenges that aim to help you develop scripts of various lengths, all of which will have been supported by tutorials which provide feedback as your work. Many of your writing projects will be seen in performance.


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Applied Playwriting 1 ( CLP11125 )

Throughout the trimester there will be 5 separate day-long intensive master classes in specific areas of playwriting techniques, which will underpin the practical work of the term. You will have 8 hours of individual mentoring and tutorial time in script development. Beginning with a series of short scene ‘etudes’, you will spend the first half of the trimester working with mentors, who will be supporting you during set challenges which will be looking very specifically at character and dialogue.

You will also have a series of meetings with students on the BA Acting courses throughout the term, to explore themes and ideas for Edinburgh Festival productions. You may choose to work with one or more teams, and you may also elect to produce more than one draft of work.

The aim of the module is to allow both studio and desk-based development time toward a staged reading of sample scene script/s at the end of term.

Further information

Dramatic Story and Structure ( CLP11129 )

Beginning with an intensive week of instruction (20 hours), you will focus on developing a critical understanding of the elements of dramatic story-telling (character, dialogue, plot, visuals, theme, etc.), language and tropes and on the varieties of dramatic structure – from simple chronological narrative to more sophisticated techniques of time-manipulation and exploitation of suspense. You will face a set of project-based challenges in order to consolidate your learning. You will have regular tutorials throughout the trimester to monitor progress and discuss ideas, and each project will have observation/mentoring time as agreed (6 hours) through weekly tutorials and rehearsals. Each of these project-based challenges will be set with increasing time requirements. Examples might include:

A two-minute opening ‘montage’ with minimal dialogue, adapted from a painting, sculpture or piece of music.
A three-minute scene adapted from a poem or short story.
A three to four-minute minute scene adapted from a current event news story
A final project scene adaptation from any source.

Projects will be produced in collaboration with directors and playwrights, Napier graduate actors, and with students on the Acting & English and the Acting for Stage & Screen courses.
During your ‘mini-placement’ you will be expected to work with and support a full scale in house production for the Acting programmes at Edinburgh Napier as a production assistant. You will have opportunity to observe how texts are realised by experienced directors, while learning some of the practicalities of realizing a stage production.

The module culminates in a workshop presentation, where directors and playwrights will be teamed with actors to create a piece of original drama adapted from an extant source. You will accompany this final project with an analytical essay (1000 words).

Further information

Script Analysis ( CLP11132 )

Working in a small tutorial group, you will be focusing on a number of plays, ranging from Greek drama to the present day. Along with conducting appropriate contextual research, you will be carrying out a literary analysis of form, style, structure, language and thematic ideas. Each play will be examined in terms of the very specific challenges it poses in practical production. There will be two projects to complete – one purely analytical in terms of the relationships between language, character and narrative; and one (theoretically) practical in which a number of challenges are identified, along with a series of proposed practical solutions in production. Your presentation and resultant peer exchange will form a significant part of the learning and early in the term a calendar of presentation dates will be agreed.

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.

This course prepares students for the professional side of the industry and is a great stepping stone for starting a career in writing.

Lewis Lauder

MFA Playwright student

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above, preferably with a background in Drama or Humanities. Applicants are also required to submit a writing sample alongside their application.

As part of the selection process, shortlisted applicants will be required to attend a practical workshop and an interview.

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

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 7.0 with no individual component score less than 6.5.  For guidance on the acceptability of other English Language tests please contact

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.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by 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’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 2019/20 2020/21
Home/EU £4,680 £4,867
Overseas £14,060 £14,622

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

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

This course is studied over two academic years, fees listed are per annum and based on your cohort.


While we can’t predict the future, we can be certain that an ever-expanding range of entertainment platforms will require an ever-expanding range of content. We believe that writers trained in the core skills of good story-telling, creating compelling and engaging characters and dialogue, finding a variety of ways to adapt their work to different contexts and media, and understanding a variety of marketing possibilities will mean that the writers will be able to adapt their work to a variety of platforms.

This course aims to train such graduates, who can see unlimited potential and a variety of opportunities for themselves in many areas of the entertainment and writing/publishing industries.

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