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Module UXS-3222:

Module Facts

Run by School of Music, Drama and Performance

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Mr Mathew Owen

Overall aims and purpose

This module introduces students to key theories of screenwriting studies, and assesses them on their ability to critically interrogate these theories, as well as their own creative screenwriting practice in the form of screenplays and treatments. Workshops will look at the history and development of the screenplay, and interrogate the relationship between the written word and screen media. These sessions will also examine a range of concepts related to screenwriting, including adaptation, visual storytelling, characterisation, structure, genre and the use of dialogue and action. Students will gain an awareness of the industrial demands of screenwriting, focusing on the process of taking an idea from screenplay to screen.

Course content

During the first part of the module, students will focus on a theoretical discussion of screenwriting. This section will focus on the development of the craft of screenwriting, and will examine differing approaches taken by various writers working in a number of different historical periods and industrial contexts. Workshops will involve analysis of key texts, and an examination of the process of writing. This section of the module will culminate in a midterm assessment in the form of an essay.

The second part of the module will provide students with an opportunity to develop their understanding of screenwriting through their own practice. Students will work with the module tutors to develop a portfolio of creative work that builds upon their understanding of screenwriting theory. Students will submit their portfolio of work as the final assessment for this module.

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

Good: C-range

Submitted work is competent throughout and occasionally distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates:

  • Good structure and logically developed arguments.
  • At least in parts draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student.
  • Assertions are, in the main, backed by evidence and sound reasoning.
  • Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.


Threshold: D-range

Submitted work is adequate and shows an acceptable level of competence as follows:

  • Generally accurate but with omissions and errors.
  • Assertions are made without clear supporting evidence or reasoning.
  • Has structure but is lacking in clarity and therefore relies on the reader to make links and assumptions.
  • Draws on a relatively narrow range of material.


Excellent: A-range

Submitted work is of an outstanding quality and excellent in one or more of the following ways:

  • Has originality of exposition with the student's own thinking being readily apparent.
  • Provides clear evidence of extensive and relevant independent study.
  • Arguments are laid down with clarity and provide the reader with successive stages of consideration to reach conclusions.


Very Good: B-range

Submitted work is competent throughout and distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates:

  • Very good structure and logically developed arguments.
  • Draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student.
  • Assertions are backed by evidence and sound reasoning.
  • Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.

Learning outcomes

  1. Critically evaluate and challenge key concepts in screenwriting theory.

  2. Display an advanced critical engagement with effective screenwriting, including characterisation, structure, genre, visual storytelling and the use of dialogue and action.

  3. Develop and write innovative and original screenplays for film that conform to industry standard formatting

  4. Demonstrate systematic in-depth understanding and knowledge of the industrial and creative demands of the short film form.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Essay on screenwriting theory

LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Screenwriting Portfolio

Portfolio consisting of short screenplay and detailed treatment


Teaching and Learning Strategy


11 x 2 hour workshop

Private study

178 hours of private study used to develop your writing as well as following suggested readings.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • An understanding of creative and critical processes, and of the wide range of skills inherent in creative writing. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.1).
  • Artistic engagement and ability to articulate complex ideas in oral and written forms. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to connect creative and critical ideas between and among forms, techniques and types of creative and critical praxis. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • The ability to synthesize information from various sources, choosing and applying appropriate concepts and methods (English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Information technology (IT) skills broadly understood and the ability to access, work with and evaluate electronic resources (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Creative skills – conception, elaboration, adaptation, presentation, collaboration, preservation
  • Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.
  • Enhanced powers of imagination and creativity (4.17)


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Reading list


Batty, D and Waldeback, Z (2008) Writing for the Screen, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillian Cowgill, L.J. (2005), Writing Short Films: Structure and Content for Screenwriters, Los Angeles: Lone Eagle Publishing Dancyger, K. and Rush, J (2006) Alternative Scriptwriting: Successfully Breaking the Rules, Oxford: Focal Press Dancyger, K. and Cooper, P. (2004), Writing the Short Film, Oxford: Focal Press. Josh Golding (2012), Maverick Screenwriting: A Manual for the Adventurous Screenwriter, London: Methuen John York (2013) Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey into Story, London: Penguin


Aronson, L. (2001) Screenwriting Updated: New (and Conventional) Ways of Writing for the Screen, California: Silverman James Press. Boozer, Jack, ed. Authorship in Film Adaptation. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008. Buchbinder, A (2005) The Way of the Screenwriter, Toronto, Ontario: House of Anansi Press Inc. Campbell, J (1993) The Hero with a Thousand Faces, London: Fontana Davies, R (2003) Writing Dialogue for Scripts, London: A & C Black Davies, R (2001) Developing Characters for Screenwriting, London: A & C Black Field, S (2003) The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting, London: Ebury Press Field, S (1989) Screenplay: The foundations of Screenwriting, New York: Dell Fine, R (1985) Hollywood and the Profession of Authorship, Michigan: UMI Research Press Goldman, W (1985) Adventures in the Screen Trade – A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting, London: Futura Publications Grodal, T (1997) Moving Pictures: A New theory of Film Genres, Feelings and Cognition, Oxford: OUP Gulino, P.J. (2004) Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach, London: Continuum Hiltumen, A. (2002) Aristotle in Hollywood: Visual Stories that Work, Bristol: Intellect McKee, R (1999) Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, London: Methuen Moritz, C (2001) Screenwriting for the Screen, London: Routledge Price, S (2010) Screenplay: Authorship, Theory and Criticism, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan Prover, J (1994) No One Knows Their Names: Screenwriters in Hollywood, Ohio: Bowling Green University State Popular Press Smith, M (1995) Engaging Characters: Fiction, Emotion and the Cinema, Oxford: OUP

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: