module specification

SJ7037 - Scriptwriting (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Scriptwriting
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 200
 
161 hours Guided independent study
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio
Running in 2018/19
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module introduces students to dramatic storytelling and the craft of writing scripts for the media of film and television. In line with film and television industry practice, students learn how to develop their ideas via outlines, treatments and story beats. This process of development is essential work before a writer can create a good script or screenplay. They will also learn how to pitch their work professionally.

Through a series of seminars and workshops, students will be introduced to the concepts of screenwriting. The module offers students new skills to enhance their writing and storytelling ability in the media of film and television. They will learn what a dramatic story is and how that applies to screenwriting. They will develop a critical awareness and understanding of existing screenplays, films and television drama. They will learn how to produce a range of development documents and a screenplay which are required to work professionally.



Their learning will be a mix of analysing existing material along with the development of their own project. This could be an idea for a feature film or a television series. This idea must be an original work which is developed into a four-page treatment for the complete idea. They will also produce a 30-page screenplay which equates to the first 30 minutes of their idea for either a feature film or television series pilot episode. 

The development material, the 30-page screenplay, plus a 2000-word reflective essay on their development process are evaluated as part of the assessment process.

Syllabus

Each week the class will focus on a specific aspect of screenwriting theory that will be taught via viewing existing material and class analysis.  LO1,LO3

Some sessions will also workshop student work at each step of the development process. It is important that students are willing to share their work, to give and receive group feedback in order to develop their own understanding of the craft of screenwriting. LO2,LO4,LO1

Outside the classroom, it is essential that students read the core texts from the book lists and existing screenplays. They should also continue to practice their craft analysis from further watching of existing material. This will support the seminar work. LO1,LO3

Students must produce material to deadlines set during the course in order for the workshops to be successful. This also encourages students to learn professional practice in meeting deadlines on time. LO4,LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching and learning will consist of weekly classes comprising a combination of practical writing workshops, discussion seminars and mini-lectures, supplemented by tutorials and use of the University’s blended learning platform, for example to enable students to share their writing and research. Students will be expected to study independently and to become critically and creatively active participants in some of the emerging cultures/communities of digital writing. Students will read, research and discuss examples of published writings as context for their own regular writing exercises. The module will include some introduction to relevant tools, and students will be expected to develop their technical skills also through other modules they are taking as part of their programme and by independent study.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module students will be able to:

LO1: Knowledge and Understanding
through analysis and the supplementary reading of theory, understand what dramatic storytelling is and how it is created; applying this knowledge to their own work and experiencing it in practice;

LO2: Cognitive, intellectual abilities
learn how to talk about their ideas in a workshop setting, how to give and receive development feedback on work, and how to work in the collaborative industries of film and television;

LO3: Transferable skills
tell a good story that is relevant to fiction and non-fiction writing, including online blogging; write to deadlines and develop an idea from an initial idea to a fully formed piece of work;

LO4 Specific skills
write film and television development documents and screenplays analysing and learning from existing material.

Assessment strategy

The module contains regular development workshops and it is essential that students bring their work to class to receive guidance and feedback during the couse. This will ensure that they are able to successfully complete the written assessed work as detailed below.  This is a portfolio of work which contains the following:

a) a 4-page treatment of the complete story of their idea for either a feature film or the pilot episode of a TV series;

b) a 30-page script which equals the first 30 minutes of this idea developed to the treatment;

c) a 2000-word analytic, reflective commentary demonstrating an acute critical awareness of the creative processes involved.

Bibliography

Core text books
Aronson. L. (2010) The 21st Century Screenplay, Australia: Allen and Unwin
Dunne. Will. (2009) The Dramatic Writer’s Companion, Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Egri. L. (2004) Art of Dramatic Writing, (Newly Rev. Ed.) New York: Touchstone
Parker. P. (1998) The Art and Science of Screenwriting, Exeter: Intellect Books

Additional reading: 

Aristotle (1996) Poetics, London: Penguin Classics
Ashton. P. (2011) A Calling Card Script, A Writer’s Toolbox for Screen, Stage and Radio, London: A&C Black
Booker. C. (2004) The Seven Basic Plots, London: Continuum
Campbell. J. (1993) The Hero with a Thousand Faces, London: Fontana,
Cowgill. L. (2005) Writing Short Films: Structure and Content for Screenwriters (2nd ed.) Los Angeles: Lone Eagle Publishing Company 
Douglas. P. (2011) Writing the TV Drama Series, (3rd Edition), USA, Michael Weise Productions
Field. S. (2005) Screenplay; The Foundations of Screenwriting: A Step by Step Guidec from Concept to finished Script, (Revised edition) New York: Delta
Grace. Y. (2014) Writing for Television, Series, Serials and Soaps, USA Creative Essentials

McKee. R. (1998) Story, London: Methuen

Smethurst. W. (2009) How to Write for Television: 6th edition, London: How to Books
Volger. C. (1992) The Writer’s Journey, London: Boxtree

Yorke, J. (2014) Into the Woods, London: Penguin

www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom
www.thescriptvault.com/links.html
www.writernet.co.uk