module specification

SJ6085 - Writing for Film and Television (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Writing for Film and Television
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Presentation and 1,000 word Written Critical Analysis
Coursework 70%   Treatment and screenplay for 15 minute short film or television pilot accompanied by 1,500 word reflective analysis
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Friday Afternoon

Module summary

This module will develop further students’ understanding of and practice in screenwriting. The module will focus particularly on how both television writing and a range of film texts might differ from accepted conventions of writing for the screen. Students will be introduced to a range of texts and approaches which develop their understanding of both the specifics of writing for television and alternative approaches to writing for film. Students will produce their own treatment and script showing the influence of one or more of the approaches discussed.

Module aims

This module aims to:
• further develop students' understanding of and skills in writing for film
• develop students’ understanding of the conventions of television writing in a range of genres
• develop students’ skills in writing for television
• introduce students to alternative approaches to writing for film
• promote critical analysis of modes of storytelling, structure and plot
• develop students’ awareness of the commercial demands of writing for film and television
• interrogate means of visual storytelling in film and television
• develop students’ skills in reflective evaluation of their work


Early classes will consider the conventions of screenwriting for film based around narrative structure, plots, genre, characterisation, dialogue, style and other essential aspects of the film script. This will form a basis for the further consideration of the specifics of writing for television as well as alternative strategies for film. Through lectures, screenings and workshops, students will explore the various approaches to writing in relation to television genres such as the episodic drama and the situation comedy, as well as the ways in which contemporary television has challenged existing formats. Similarly, students will explore alternative approaches to screenwriting for film, critically analysing the strategies of particular films and filmmakers. Films and television shows considered may include, for example, Frasier (1993-2004), Breaking Bad (2008-2013), Twin Peaks (1990-1991), No Country for Old Men (2007), The Affair (2014-), The Descendants (2011).

Learning and teaching

The module will be conducted via weekly lectures, workshops and screenings. Students will be encouraged to actively partake in their learning by watching recommended films and television shows outside of class time and preparing for class through required readings. Workshops in which students will develop and discuss their work and progress will form a key part of their learning, providing them with opportunities for peer and tutor review and reflective learning. Module materials and further guidance will be provided via WebLearn.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student will be able to:

• Exhibit key skills in writing for film and television

• Demonstrate an understanding of the conventions of television writing

• Demonstrate knowledge of various approaches to writing in television genres

• Critically analyse various modes of storytelling, structure and plot

• Produce a step outline and script for film or television influenced by a specific approach to storytelling

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy for the module encourages both critical analysis and the development of screenwriting skills. The first assignment is designed to enable students to demonstrate a knowledge of a chosen approach to writing for film or television and to critically analyse this via both a presentation and written coursework. The final assignment will enable students to demonstrate their ability to incorporate the influences of learned approaches to storytelling into their own work through the production of a screenplay for film or a television pilot and reflectively analyse their own work.


Linda Aronson, Screenwriting Updated (Los Angeles: Silman-James Press, 2001)
Rachel Ballon, Blueprint for Screenwriting (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2005)
Craig Batty (ed.), Screenwriters and Screenwriting: Putting Practice into Context (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
Stephen V. Duncan, Genre Screenwriting: How to Write Popular Screenplays that Sell (New York: Continuum, 2008)
Lee Goldberg, Successful Television Writing (New York and Chichester: Wiley, 2003)
Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (London: Methuen, 1998).
Richard Walter, Screenwriting: The Art, Craft and Business of Film and Television Writing (New York and London: Penguin, 1988)