Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media, MA/MFA

Duration: MA: One year, full-time/two years, part-time, October start. MFA: Two years, full-time. October start, full-time on-site attendance between July and October is not mandatory.

Award: Master of Arts in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media (180 credits); Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media (240 credits)

Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at Central. Pictured: Wish List by graduate Katherine Soper. Photo: Jonathan Keenan
Overview

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

The MA/MFA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media offers a vocational training in writing drama across a range of different media contexts. 

Both the MA and MFA courses provide the opportunity for you to develop the core competencies and skills of the dramatist, to explore your ‘voice’, to develop your confidence in your own writing and to understand the different media contexts within which you might work as a professional scriptwriter. 

  • Train to write drama for different media including theatre, film, television and radio 
  • Study the history of dramatic writing and explore its future 
  • Work with actors and be taught by industry professionals

In the past, students have also had the opportunity to study optional units on writing within other contexts, for example, writing with, and for, communities (in collaboration with the MA Applied Theatre). 

Key features of the course

  • practice-based enquiry into techniques and processes for writing for stage and screen; 
  • a series of writing projects engaging with different styles and media formats; 
  • research into dramatic writing techniques and issues of performance in relation to theatre, cinema, television, radio and other relevant contexts. 

For more information on structure of the course please see ‘Course Detail’, below.

Photo: Joseph Quinn as Dean and Erin Doherty as Tamsin in Wish List by 2014 graduate Katherine Soper. Photo: Jonathan Keenan

Course Detail

Our Approach

You will be taught in group sessions and through individual tutorials. During these sessions, you will consider the fundamentals of dramatic writing. In the past, these have included structure, narrative, dramatic action, genre, character, dialogue and rhetorical effect.

You will attend masterclasses, seminars and workshops focusing on the particular modes of writing required for different production contexts. 

You will also have the opportunity to be part of a writers’ group, providing peer support in developing each other’s writing. Your vocational work in these areas is complemented by individual research and appropriate theoretical discussion and enquiry. You will explore the historical, theoretical and critical contexts within which traditions of dramatic writing have evolved. 

You will engage in projects that test and develop your skills as a writer of drama. These have included forming a team of writers to evolve a television series, writing a short play, having your script workshopped with actors, writing a short film script, developing a radio play and developing and writing a complete dramatic script for production in a particular medium (theatre, film, television or radio). 

In undertaking these projects you will acquire an understanding of working in different formats, as well as the role of the writer in different production processes. 

Through a rolling programme of guest speakers from the industry, you will gain some insight into commissioning and production protocols in different media and the role of the literary agent. You will also have the opportunity to hear from professional writers working across various dramatic mediums. 

The MA ends with a Sustained Independent Project where you are able to focus on developing a full-length ‘calling card’ script for a specific dramatic medium (theatre, film, television or radio) under the guidance of a professional writer or other industry professional. 

MFA study

If you choose to study for an MFA, you will join the MA students for two-thirds of their course. The MFA then extends into a second year that engages you with further specialist subject skills. You will be expected to produce two ‘calling card’ scripts and to develop a plan for your professional development. 

MFA students are offered extended and sustained script development support from professional writers and other industry professionals. You will be expected to develop professional ties and to begin to establish yourself as a professional practitioner. 

The MFA second year widens your opportunities to practise knowledge within a context and framework where pertinent questions can be asked, protocols tested and new structures suggested. During the MFA, you will be supported with oneto- one tutorials and occasional seminars. 

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 you are interested in teaching or research in a higher education environment. 

An MFA top-up year for those with an existing MA in this subject is also available.

ASSESSMENT

You will be assessed through peer assessment, scriptwriting assignments, essays, presentations, critical reflection on your own writing and, for the MFA, the submission of a professional development portfolio.

Download MA/MFA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media Programme Specification 2017-2018 (838.07 KB)

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 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.

We particularly encourage applications from groups currently under-represented in higher education, such as students with disabilities and members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. Find out more information on Central’s commitment to equality and diversity.

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

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 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.

International Interviews

Each year Central hosts a number of interviews outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central traveling 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.

Distance Interviews

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 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.

International Students

Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.

What our students said

Vinay Patel
Vinay Patel

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.

Katherine Soper
Katherine Soper graduated from the MA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at Central in 2014ac

Graduated 2014, her play Wish List, (Sustained Independent Project at Central), won the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015. It premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester before transferring to the Royal Court Theatre.

It’s safe to say that without Central’s support I would never have written Wish List. Having that year gave me the space to experiment with my writing without feeling exposed, and helped me not only to see a play through from start to finish, but to be disciplined about elements like plot structure and dramatic action that I’d previously found difficult to navigate on my own.

Industry Links

There is an informal series of talks by guest speakers. Past speakers have included:

  • Diana Nneka Atuona (writer)
  • BBC Writersroom
  • Clare Bayley (writer)
  • Adam Brace (writer)
  • Chris Campbell (Royal Court)
  • Casarotto Ramsay
  • Complicite
  • Tim Crouch (writer)
  • John Donnelly (writer)
  • Rob Drummer (Bush Theatre; Company of Angels)
  • David Edgar (writer)
  • Sarah Golding (Rainy Day Films)
  • Tanika Gupta (writer)
  • Ella Hickson (writer)
  • Lucy Kirkwood (writer)
  • Rebecca Lenkiewicz (writer)
  • Manda Levin (Kudos)
  • Duncan Macmillan (writer)
  • Papatango Theatre Company
  • Lucy Prebble (writer)
  • Amy Rosenthal (writer)
  • Max Stafford-Clark (Out of Joint)
  • Victoria Saxton (musical theatre writer and dramaturg)
  • Simon Stephens (writer)
  • Theatre503
  • The Yard.

The MFA course encourages you to develop your professional network and gain experience in professional contexts. Previously, students have undertaken a range of professional development activities, including reading scripts for theatre literary departments, developing camera and editing skills, teaching writing, working with theatre companies that work with communities, producing their own work and developing pitches/spec scripts for film and television.

Staff on the Course

View profiles of the academic staff who teach on these courses. Click on each staff member to find out more about them.

Dr. Tony Fisher, BA, MA, PhD

Reader in Theatre and Philosophy, Associate Director of Research (Research Degrees)

Dr Sarah Grochala, MA Oxon, MPhil(B), PhD, AFHEA

Senior Lecturer, Leader MA/MFA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media

Graduate Employment

Graduate employment and career pathways include:

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 Foundation.

Notable Graduates

Notable graduates of this course include:

Nick Payne (2007) won the Harold Pinter Playwright’s Award and the 2012 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play for Constellations. In January 2015 Constellations opened on Broadway, starring Jake Gyllenhall and Ruth Wilson. Other writing credits include, If There is I Haven’t Found it Yet (Bush Theatre), Wanderlust (Royal Court) and, The Same Deep Water As Me (Donmar Warehouse). 

Cat Jones (2007) won the BBC Alfred Bradley Award for Radio Drama with Glory Dazed, and the Holden Street Theatres Award at the Edinburgh Festival, and Critics’ Choice ‘Best in Fringe’ in the Adelaide Festival, for the stage version of the play, all in 2013. She also won the 2013 Pearson Playwright Award and is under commission to the Royal Exchange Theatre and The Old Vic under the TS Eliot Commissions Project. Her recent television writing credits include, Doctors, Waterloo Road and Younger 2.

Evan Placey (2007) won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Play for Young Audiences, for Girls Like That, and the Brian Way Award 2012, for Holloway Jones, both were co-produced by Synergy Theatre and the Unicorn Theatre. Other plays include Pronoun (National Theatre Connections), Banana Boys (Hampstead Theatre) and Mother of Him (Court Yard Theatre), which won the King’s Cross Award for New Writing, Canada’s RBC National Playwriting Competition, and the Samuel French Canadian Play Contest. 

Katherine Soper (2014) Her play Wish List, (Sustained Independent Project at Central), won the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015. It premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester before transferring to the Royal Court Theatre.

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