Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) (MA)

For more information about Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) at City, University of London, please visit the webpage using the button above.

The award

How long you will study
2 years

Domestic course fees
GBP 6000 per year

How you will study

Course starts

International course fees
GBP 8500 per year

All study options

About Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) at City, University of London

Most drama writers move between media so that's what we do; join us to learn about writing for theatre, film and television.

Who is it for?

Our Creative Writing programme is suitable for writers who want to develop their practice and complete a full length piece of work, or for experienced playwrights who wish to gain a familiarity with writing for the screen, or experienced screenwriters who wish to gain a grounding in theatre writing. It is also suitable for writers who while continuing with their own practice, will work in development roles in the film, TV, theatre and related industries such as literary agencies.

Our programme has been designed, with input from a range of playwrights and screenwriters, to provide the optimum environment for students to complete a full length play or feature film script to a high standard.

As the programme is taught in the evening, we welcome applications from mature students with work and family commitments who are committed to writing a full length play or screenplay over two years.

Find out more about our alumni and what they achieved during their time at City, University of London.


Creatively stimulating, challenging and above all practical, this innovative two-year Creative Writing programme taught during the evening, provides a supportive and thought-provoking environment for playwrights and screenwriters to explore their ideas, develop their craft and finish a full-length work to a high standard.

You will develop as a writer and sharpen your understanding of what's working and what isn't. No single style or genre is prescribed; the ethos of the programme is excellence and diversity.

You will get to understand writing choices in the work of leading playwrights and screenwriters. You will work with actors and directors from London's new writing theatres, and receive guest talks from agents, producers and artistic directors.

By the end of the course, you will have taken a full-length play, screenplay or television pilot through a number of drafts, working as professional writers do. This play or screenplay will be your calling card. You will receive a performed reading of an extract of your work and a professional script report.


The Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) MA is accredited by Skillset, the Creative Industries' Sector Skills Council which means that students are eligible for the BAFTA Scholarship programme - successful applicants receive a bursary of up to £10,000, a BAFTA mentor, access to BAFTA events, plus a paid work placement at Warner Bros UK.

Requirements and how to apply

Entry requirements

You will usually have an Honours degree in any subject. Successful completion of a certificate course in creative writing, professional qualifications or relevant experience, such as acting or directing or writing professionally may also be acceptable. The prime criteria are proven ability and commitment to completing a play or screenplay. Mature students are encouraged to apply. If in doubt about your qualifications please contact us before applying.

English requirements

For students whose first language is not English an IELTS score of at least 7.0 is required (with 7.0 in the writing component).

Visa requirements

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

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than six months
  • Students on courses of less than six months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City courses on a part-time basis.

For more information see our main Visa page.

How to apply

The application process for 2018 is now open.

Apply for MA Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) (full-time)

You can apply online and will be expected to submit the following:

  • One application form. You can download a pdf version of the application form or apply online by following the links below.
  • An explanation in no more than 200 words of why you think you would benefit from the course. Please write this in the "Statement in Support of Application" section of the application form.)
  • A sample of your creative writing: please submit a 20-page play or screenplay extract. Applications won't be considered without a writing sample.
  • Please ensure that your name is on every page and that the work is a copy as it cannot be returned. Either submit your writing sample with your postal application, attach a Word document to your online application, or email your writing sample.

    Application process

    You may be invited to attend an interview or be interviewed by phone if you are shortlisted.

    Application Deadline

    You are advised to apply as soon as possible after applications open, however we usually have a rolling deadline up until the end of August for programmes commencing at the end of the following September.

Teaching and learning

Our Creative Writing masters course is taught and run by professional working writers and you will be mentored by a professional working playwright or screenwriter for the whole of year two.

You will be taught intensively for six hours per week in year one and in the second year you choose to write either a full length play, or screenplay, or a pilot for an original television series.

This playwriting and screenwriting course is based around a mix of practical workshops, seminars and lectures. All this is supported by one-to-one tutorials and by independent study: notably reading and preparing presentations on set texts and performing set writing exercises. As the course progresses, the emphasis shifts to independent study and is supported by workshops and one-to-one tutorials.

Central to this Creative Writing masters course is the requirement to finish a full-length play or screenplay. The course culminates in a showcase of your work to an audience of industry professionals and other interested parties.

Lecturers from the worlds of film, television and theatre include:

Phil O'Shea is Programme Director of the MA Creative Writing (Playwriting & Screenwriting). Phil wrote and co-directed the feature film Vampire Diary (2007) which won Best Film at the Milan International Film Festival and three other major awards. Phil also wrote the feature films Spirit Trap (2005) and The Harpist (1998). Phil has also worked as a TV screenwriter for BBC, Channel 5, ITV and Sky TV, and he wrote the stageplay Playing for England.

Barbara Norden is a playwright whose work has been produced by Hampstead Theatre, BBC Radio 4, The Factory theatre company and commissioned by Birmingham Rep. She has been involved as a writer in numerous short play projects with work performed in both theatres and non traditional settings.  She has also contributed to devised and multi media pieces. She is  a former journalist and theatre reviewer. She did her PhD research at London and New York universities.

John Yorke (former controller of drama BBC TV, Head of Drama at Channel 4, and author of “Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them”). John teaches the year one Dramatic Writing (Screenwriting) module.

Lisa Goldman (theatre director & writer, former artistic director of the Soho Theatre, and author of “The No Rules Handbook for Writers”). Lisa teaches the year one Dramatic Writing (Playwriting) module.

Jim Hill (writer and director of popular television drama and perhaps best known as the co-creator of the successful series Boon). Jim teaches the year one Writing Workshop (TV writing) module.

Jon Gilbert (Writer, director and script consultant). Jon teaches on the year two Production Business module and is a year two mentor.

Penny Gold (writer, dramaturg, director and producer who has worked in theatre, television, film and radio). Penny teaches on the year two Production Business module and is a year two mentor.

Britt Harrison (screenwriting and script consultant). Britt teaches on the year two Production Business module and is a year two mentor.

Olivia Hetreed (screenwriter of Girl with a Pearl Earring and Wuthering Heights, and President of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain). Olivia is a year two mentor.

Andrew Cartmel (show runner on three seasons of Doctor Who, senior script editor, novelist and playwright).  Andrew is a year two mentor.

Ali Taylor (award-winning playwright who has written for the Hampstead Theatre, Royal Court, Soho, Theatre503 and BBC Radio 4). Ali is a year two mentor.

David Lane (professional playwright and dramaturg, and has been a Literary Associate to established London and regional new writing companies such as Soho Theatre & Writers' Centre and Theatre and Beyond in Brighton). David is a year two mentor.

Kay Stonham (actor, writer and academic who has worked on many TV and radio comedy shows). Kay is a year two mentor.

Ellin Stein (leading screenwriting consultant and theatre critic). Ellin is a year two mentor.


Assessment includes participation in lectures, seminars and workshops; of work on presentations; set exercises and own play or screen script proposal.


You will take three modules (Writing Workshop, Dramatic Writing and Storytelling) and be taught for six hours a week in year one. There will be tutorials alongside this in all 3 terms. You will create a 10 minute film as well as a 10 minute play.

In the second year you choose to write either a full length play, or screenplay, or a pilot for an original television series (along with the series "bible" and synopses for several episodes). In addition to this you will participate in workshops.

Year 1

In the first term, the emphasis will be on plays, and the core elements of dramatic writing: storytelling; action; creation of character; dialogue; use of time, space and image; structure; and stage. Emphasis will be placed on imaginative use of the form. The second term allows you to focus on film. You will learn to develop a film script using industry terms and techniques including pitching, writing treatments and scene outlines, employing camera directions, and working with, and against, genre.

In the first year you will study three modules:

  • Writing Workshop
  • Dramatic Writing
  • Storytelling

These will include tutorials as well as workshops. (Writing tutorials are taught in term 1 and 2 and Storytelling is in term 3).

Through these modules you will acquire a critical understanding of classic and contemporary plays and films from the writer's point of view, and an in-depth practical knowledge of playwriting and screenwriting.  There are also specialist sessions on writing for radio and television drama.

Year 2

In the second year, students will participate in a series of workshops on writing TV and radio drama and you will hear your first term short plays read by actors and experience the rewriting process. Your second year will consist of two modules:

  • Own Play or Script
  • The Production Business.

In addition to completing a full length play or script under the guidance of your mentor, you will participate in workshops taught by practising screenwriters and playwrights, and have the opportunity to work with actors and to experience a professional script development process. There will be a showcase of work at the end of the programme.

Download the relevant programme specification

Career prospects

Many of our Creative Writing graduates from play and screenwriting go on to have their work performed professionally and have won many awards and nominations. Since the beginning of 2015 over 40 students and alumni have had plays performed.

Some recent examples include

  • Graduate Aisha Zia received a grant from Brookleaze and her new play Besieged was performed at the Arcola Theatre
  • Dianna Hunt, Her play ‘One Woman's Slide: A Blues' has been programmed in the Talawa Arts Festival.
  • Cheryl White, whose films include Before Babel (2013) which won Best Short at the Kent and Rye Film Festival International film festival 2015; Winner of Best Film and Most Innovative Film at WOW Festival 2014.
  • Louisa Hayford, who did a ten week paid internship at the Coronation Street story department as part of the ITV Coronation Street Original Voices scheme.

Our graduates have had plays performed in London at the Old Vic, Arcola, Old Red Lion, Southwark Playhouse, Globe and White Bear theatres; as well as in Australia, New York, the Netherlands and Afghanistan.

Find out more about our student successes.

Alumna views

Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) alumna, Kerry Barlow

Find out about the projects that Kerry has been working on and why her future in playwriting and screenwriting is looking bright.

75% of graduates in employment or further study six months after completing the course

Find out more about the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2014-15

Study options for this course

  • The award How you will study How long you will study Course starts Domestic course fees International course fees
  • The awardMAHow you will studyFull-timeHow long you will study2 years
    Course startsOctoberDomestic course feesGBP 6000 per yearInternational course feesGBP 8500 per year

Notes about fees for this course


Full-time: £6,000 per year


Full-time: £8,500

More about fees

Fees in each subsequent year of study (where applicable) will be subject to an annual increase limited by the All Items Retail Prices Index. We will confirm any change to the annual tuition fee to you in writing prior to you commencing each subsequent year of study (where applicable).


Explore up-to-date information about funding options, available financial support and typical living costs.

Future Finance Loans

Future Finance offers students loans of between £2,500 and £40,000 to help cover tuition fees and living expenses. All students and courses are considered. All loans are subject to credit checks and approval for further details please visit the City Finance website.


The Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) MA is accredited by Skillset, the Creative Industries' Sector Skills Council which means that students are eligible for the BAFTA Scholarship programme - successful applicants receive a bursary of up to £10,000, a BAFTA mentor, access to BAFTA events, plus a paid work placement at Warner Bros UK.

Alumni views

Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenwriting) alumni, Gareth Giles

Watch our alumni video and find out how Gareath Giles benefited from studying in the heart of London.

Academic facilities

Professional actors working on a student script in the Performance Space.

Industry ties

The course has strong ties with leading playwrights and screenwriters. Recent visiting speakers include:

Richard Bean, Alan Bennett, Ronan Bennett, J Blakeson, Adam Brace, Laurence Coriat, Rib Davies, David Edgar, Martha Fiennes, Andrea Gibb, Tony Grisoni, Stuart Hazeldine, Dennis Kelly, Mike Leigh, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Patrick Marber, Paul Mayeda Berges, Nicholas McInerny, Anthony Neilson, Diane Samuels, Paul Sirett, Ali Taylor, Sue Teddern, Colin Teevan, Timberlake Wertenbaker, and Roy Williams.

You will have the opportunity to meet agents, producers, directors, and authors on screenwriting. Recent guests have included:

Linda Aronson, Katie Battcock, Matthew Bates, Paul Basset Davies, Camilla Bray, Ruth Caleb, Julian Friedmann, Tony Garnett, Lisa Goldman, Fin Kennedy, Kate Leys, Nick Marston, Margaret Matheson, Jeremy Mortimer, George Perrin, Simon Shaps, David Thompson, Neil Quinn, Mervyn Watson and Katie Williams.

Entry requirements

Contact City, University of London to find course entry requirements.

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