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Course content

The only course of its kind offered by a Russell Group University, our MA in Screenwriting is an intensive one-year training programme designed to professionalise writers and present a genuine gateway into the film and television industries. Over the course of the year, students will work with leading industry practitioners to develop their screenwriting, pitching and story-breaking skills. By the end of the programme, each student will have developed a full length feature film screenplay, a pilot TV episode and two short films. Like all courses at the Centre for New Writing, this programme is taught by practitioners and as such it is vocationally-oriented and industry-focused. Students will have access to individual career guidance and training in how to navigate entry-level work in both the television and film industries.

The course includes regular speakers from the industry which last year included Beth Pattinson BBC Films ( Brooklyn, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Philomena ), Chris Chibnall (writer and creator of Broadchurch) and Pete Czernin, producer of In Bruges and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1 and 2).

The course runs across two twelve week long semesters, during which students will attend weekly writing workshops in which they will study the very best of contemporary screenwriting, including shows such as Breaking Bad, True Detective, The Killing, Broadchurch, This is England, Rev, Transparency and The Sopranos. They will also cover British and American examples of charismatic film screenwriting from Goodfellas to The King's Speech via Alien.

In the second semester there will be a London industry day based at BAFTA with talks from agents, producers, and writers as well as a meeting with the BFI.

Students will study story design, visual story-telling and character arcs in both long-running television series and feature films. They will develop the tools to be able to analyse and critique screenwriting craft, and learn how to disseminate their own work. There will be weekly film screenings, and students will have access to an excellent lending library of films to watch at home. Through the duration of the course students will develop a broad and eclectic knowledge of cinema and television.

We intend to keep learning as specific to individual study as possible and study groups will be intentionally small in scale. The course capacity is limited to twelve students each year and you will be taught through a mixture of screenings, lectures and group discussion. Our `writers' room' ethos ensures an environment that encourages collaboration, sharing and creative risk-taking.

Importantly, each summer, we offer students a two week `hands-on' industry placement at a renowned film or TV production company either in London or the North West. Current partners include Film4 ( Room. Ex_Machina, The Lobster) , Wildgaze (Brooklyn) , Number 9 Films (Carol) , Left Bank (The Crown), Warp (This is England) , Red Productions ( Happy Valley, Scott and Bailey ), and Hammer Films ( The Woman in Black , Let Me In ). These placements are an excellent opportunity for students to make useful contacts, and to develop a practical and direct understanding of the professional context within which screenwriters ply their trade.

Coursework and assessment

To complete the MA, students are required to take 180 credits in total. They will take two semesters of courses consisting of workshops/tutorials and seminars. There are 60 credits in the first semester and 30 in the second with 90 for the dissertation.

-All writing workshops meet for three hours per week.
-Workshops will help students add to their portfolio by including adaptations, scenes, draft scripts, script reports, and genre presentations.
-Each workshop is assessed by a portfolio which will include pitches, treatments, scenes, draft scripts, script reports and notes on how to progress a draft.
-Seminars also meet for three hours per week.
-Students will also be offered two individual half- to one-hour tutorials per semester in order to discuss the progress of their writing.

Over the summer students complete a 'dissertation' which consists of a final revised version of a full-length screenplay. This is worth 60 credits.

Career opportunities

This programme is designed to train its graduates to work in the UK film and television industries. Some will work as professional screenwriters, others may take up other, related, positions.

Visit the Screenwriting - MA page on the University of Manchester website for more details!

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