Skip to main content

Aspects of Screenwriting: Adaptation


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Barbara Cox (subject to change)
  • Prerequisite: Screenwriting
  • Assessment: an adapted script of at least 25 minutes (50%) and an academic essay of 3000 words (50%)

Module description

This module adds a further dimension to Screenwriting studies by considering the theory and practice of adaptation. We will consider adapting from different sources, such as novels, short stories, life writing and historical or recent events, and the challenges of converting these source materials into film or TV scripts.

Many feature films and TV dramas are adapted and we will discuss why this is the case and what are the advantages and disadvantages for producers and writers of working with pre-existing material. We will also consider using autobiographical material and the challenges of adapting a story you have experienced at first-hand.

Screenwriters who want to adapt a published work need to be aware of copyright and other rights, and these will be briefly explained.

Unlike earlier Screenwriting modules, the coursework for this module combines practice with critical analysis, and consists of a short adapted script (which can be a completed script or an extract) and an academic essay.

Indicative module content

  • Adaptations in the film and TV industries: why are adaptations so often used in film and TV? Legal and practical issues for the screenwriter.
  • Adapting different kinds of fiction: adapting novels and short stories; adapting other forms such as graphic novels and video games; re-working familiar stories such as myths, legends and fairy-tales.
  • Adapting factual material: biography; historical and news events; autobiography.
  • Skills required: choosing and analysing the source material; developing your adapted script; keeping what works, losing what doesn't; allowing for cultural differences and adapting for a modern audience.