MA/MFA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media
Vocational training in writing drama across a range of media. Although the primary focus is scriptwriting for television, film, theatre and radio, Central also runs optional units in writing for new music theatre and, in collaboration with MA Applied Theatre, writing with and for communities.
About the course
These courses provide the opportunity for students to develop the core competencies and skills of the dramatist and scriptwriter, to explore their own ‘voice’ and develop their confidence as dramatists and scriptwriters, and to appreciate the specific media contexts within which professional writers work.
Key features are:
- Practice-based enquiry into techniques and processes for writing for stage and screen
- A series of scriptwriting projects to engage with different styles and formats of production
- Associated study of writing techniques and issues of performance in relation to theatre, cinema, television and other relevant contexts.
The MA and MFA are taught in group sessions and through individual tutorials. In the first year of the MFA, students will join the MA students for two-thirds of their course. The MFA extends into the second year that engages students with further specialist subject skills.
MA and MFA course
The fundamentals of dramatic writing will be considered, such as structure, narrative, dramatic action, genre, character, dialogue and rhetorical effect. Different approaches to writing will be studied, including individual authorship, group writing and writing to specific briefs.
Students will attend masterclasses, seminars and workshops that focus on particular modes of writing for different production contexts, and will be part of a writers’ group, providing peer support in developing their writing.
Vocational work is complemented by individual research and appropriate theoretical discussion and enquiry, and students will address historical, theoretical and critical contexts within which traditions of dramatic writing have evolved.
Both courses will engage in a range of projects that test and develop students’ skills as a writer of drama. These may include:
- Forming a team of writers to evolve a television series
- Writing a short film script, radio play, or a short play script workshopped with actors
- Developing and writing a complete dramatic script for production in a particular medium (stage, radio, television, music, theatre or film).
In undertaking these projects students will acquire an understanding of working in different formats, as well as the role of the writer in current production processes.
Through a rolling programme of guest speakers from the industry, students will also gain some knowledge of commissioning and production protocols in different media, of working with agents and of hearing from established writers working across different fields of drama.
The MA ends with a Sustained Independent Project where students are able to focus on a full-length ‘calling card’ script in whatever medium they choose.
MFA writers will be expected to produce two ‘calling card’ scripts and to develop a plan for professional development. MFA students are offered extended and sustained script development support and will be expected to develop professional ties and work closely with members of the related industry to establish themselves as professional practitioners.
In the second year of the course, students are encouraged to specialise in one or more fields, building on the first year of teaching. The MFA second year widens the opportunities to practise knowledge within a context and framework where pertinent questions can be asked, protocols tested and new structures suggested. Students will be expected to undertake tutorials and occasional seminars.
Within the 1,200 hours of the second year of the MFA, students will complete two full-length dramatic texts in the medium of the writer’s choice, an accompanying critical reflection and a portfolio comprising, for example, relevant supporting material taken from the writer’s journal, any treatments the writer may have produced, a plan for professional development, indication of professional contacts developed whilst on the course, and a report on any attachment activity that may have been undertaken whilst doing the project (e.g. if the student attended meetings in a theatre literary department).
The MFA offers a further embedding of skills and concepts learnt during the first year. In some countries, the MFA is more recognised, particularly if participants are interested in teaching or research in a higher education environment.
This is through peer assessment, practical assignments, essays, the scheme of research, presentations, and the submission of a practitioner portfolio, including personal insights, research, the student’s own scripted material and a plan for professional development.
There is an informal series of talks by guest speakers. Central also has links with organisations including the Royal Court Theatre, Hampstead Theatre and the BBC.
Past speakers from across the industry have included Mike Leigh, Chloe Moss, Sarah Daniels, Dennis Kelly, David Edgar, Tim Crouch, Simon Stephens, Lucy Prebble, Sir Ronald Harwood, Tracy Letts, BBC Writersroom, Ola Animashawun, Manda Levin, Sarah Golding, Chris Campbell and Mel Kenyon.
The MFA course encourages students to develop professional ties and will support them in their efforts to gain experience in professional contexts, as well as help them develop their list of industry contacts. Examples of professional connections would indicatively include work experience with a professional theatre literary department, such as the Royal Court Theatre in London.
Recent Visiting Staff
John Donnelly (Playwright), Tanika Gupta (theatre, radio, film), Katharine Way (TV Writer), Mark Tilton (Screenwriter), Ola Animashawun (Theatre Director, Associate Director, Royal Court Theatre), Federay Holmes (the Factory), Darren Rapier (TV Writer), Sarah Golding (screen development), Sue Teddern (Radio Dramatist), Gillian Richmond (TV and radio drama), Deirdre McLaughlin.
Entry Requirements and Admissions
You should normally have an undergraduate degree in the broad field of literary and/or performance and drama studies; or a first degree and sufficient experience of either writing or drama practice, or have appropriate professional experience; or can otherwise demonstrate your potential to undertake this form of postgraduate study successfully. An offer will normally only be made after the interview.
An MFA top-up year for those with an existing MA in writing for dramatic media is available. During this year writers will produce two ‘calling card’ scripts and a professional development portfolio.
English Language Requirements
Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to prove their English language proficiency by gaining an overall score of 7.0 in an IELTS test. We do accept equivalent English language qualifications. Applicants are advised to gain this certification as early as possible.
Interviews in London
If you are selected for an interview for a place on the MA or MFA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media course, we will require you to bring the following:
- a synopsis for a piece of drama, in any medium, that you wish to write (300 words)
- a monologue or a two-hander that is complete in itself (that is, it is not an excerpt from a longer piece) (500 words)
- an evaluation of your own working process as a writer (300 words).
At the interview, you will discuss your experience in relation to writing and dramatic performance (including your perceived strengths and needs), your understanding of issues relating to writing and to drama and your preparedness for the course.
The interview process will also give you an opportunity to find out more about the course and the School.
Each year Central hosts a number of interviews outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central travelling to meet applicants. The international interviews are designed to replicate the London-based interview experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site!). See our Event Finder for listings of upcoming interview locations and dates.
If you live abroad and are unable to attend an interview in person you may, at the discretion of the Admissions Tutor, be offered the opportunity of a distance interview. If you are selected for interview in this manner you will be contacted (normally by email) in order to arrange a suitable time for an interview. This will be conducted on Skype, telephone or by ‘live’ email exchange and will normally be based upon the material you will have been asked to submit in advance. The interview will be conducted by the Admissions Tutor in liaison with a colleague who will have sight of your submitted materials.
Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.
Graduate employment and career pathways include:
A writer in theatre, radio and/or screen-related industries.
Script Editor, Literary Manager, Writing Tutor, work with script development, dramaturgy, creative partnership schemes, copy editing, and writers in education and the community, such as the Writers in Prisons Network.
Graduated 2011, his debut play, in association with HighTide, was performed at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014, before transferring to the Bush Theatre RADAR season, and then to headline the Vaults Festival; also attached to Theatre503 and developing projects for Channel 4 and the BBC.
Coming back to study after a couple of years out was the best decision I’ve made. Having a safe, constructive environment to try my work out gave me the confidence to write, and the demands of the course instilled in me the self-discipline that’s vital for pursuing writing as a career. It provided me with a network of friends that I still collaborate with today and rely on to help make my work stronger.