Screenwriting (MA)

The MA in Screenwriting offers an integrated programme in the history, theory and practice of screenwriting. It will develop practical screenwriting skills and techniques, with students developing outlines, treatments and scripts towards a portfolio of original projects. Projects may be for film or television and the programme will encourage you to write in different genres, and expect you to rewrite draft scripts with feedback and tutor support.

One distinctive feature of the programme is the fast-track core module which will allow all students enrolling on the course, including graduates in other fields, to gain detailed knowledge of screenwriting theories, conventions and formats, and develop the ability to apply these to writing practice. Subsequent modules will deepen writing skills and knowledge of screenwriting with assignments of increasing length designed to meet industry requirements, such as feature film script and television series writing, and you will also study the discourse and practices of screenwriting.

Central to the programme is examining how the industry works, and to this end there are six autumn industry talks with guest speakers, and a four-day summer school, which focuses on the writer working in the industry, and includes pitching and storytelling workshops, as well as guest speakers.

Highlights

  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked fourth best in London and 18th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2017-2018 World University Subject Rankings.
  • Graduates in other fields can achieve professional standards of practice and understanding of the industry.
  • We have a state-of-the art cinema and exhibition spaces, all housed in a historic building that was a former home to key members of the Bloomsbury Group, including the author Virginia Woolf and the artist Vanessa Bell.
  • The School is also actively involved in a number of College-wide institutes specifically designed to foster work across disciplines at Birkbeck such as Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image.
  • The Department hosts a range of events including information eveningsfor prospective students; the annual Murray Lecture where speakers have included Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain and Neil McGregor, director of the British Museum; and exhibitions and displays at the Peltz Gallery, the School of Arts' purpose-built exhibition space.
  • The School of Arts offers a number of bursaries for postgraduate students.
    • Entry Requirements

      Entry requirements

      A good degree in any related subject; other qualifications will be considered.

      Applications are encouraged from those with or without prior screenwriting experience.

      International entry requirements

      If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

      If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

      Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

      Visa requirements

      If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

      The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

      • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
      • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
      • Pre-sessional English language courses.

      International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

      For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

      Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

      If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

      Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

    • Fees

      Fees

      Part-time home/EU students: £4075 pa
      Full-time home/EU students: £8175 pa
      Part-time international students: £7425 pa
      Full-time international students: £14850 pa

      Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    • Teaching and assessment

      Teaching

      At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

      Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

      Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

      In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

      Methods of teaching on this course

      Teaching will be in the form of screenings, workshops, lectures, presentations, writing exercises and research methodologies exercises. Teaching is in small groups and one-to-one tutorials, with writing practice at the heart of the course.

      Contact hours

      On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

      On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

      On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

      Timetables

      Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

      Indicative class size

      Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

      Independent learning

      On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

      Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

      On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

      Study skills and additional support

      Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

      • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
      • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
      • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

      Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

      Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

      Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

      Assessment

      Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

      Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

      Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

      Methods of assessment on this course

      Assessment is 100% coursework.

    • Careers and employability

      Careers and employability

      Graduates go into careers in the creative industries, such as screenwriting, script editing and collaborating with readers/directors/producers/co-writers. Possible professions include screenwriter, creative writer, or higher education lecturer. This degree can also be useful in becoming a script writer, magazine or newspaper journalist, or English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher. Find out more about these professions.

      We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

    • How to apply

      How to apply

      You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link.

      In addition to our online application, you will need to complete and submit an entrance task. This will be emailed to you once you have begun the application process.

      Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form.

      Application deadlines and interviews

      We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.