Writing for the Radio
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Undergraduate: Level 4
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
22 March 2022
Requisites for this module
BA W800 Creative Writing,
BA W801 Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA W803 Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA W808 Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
MLITQ392 Creative Writing,
BA PW38 Film and Creative Writing,
BA PW39 Film and Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA PW88 Film and Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
BA PWH8 Film and Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA WW80 Drama and Creative Writing,
BA WW81 Drama and Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
BA WW82 Drama and Creative Writing (including Placement Year),
BA WW83 Drama and Creative Writing (including Year Abroad)
This 10-week module will explore writing for radio and audio, from its origins in early radio drama to new possibilities in audio drama as it now operates in the digital age. We will listen to a wide range of radio/audio drama, and discuss the possibilities that writing for listeners offers the writer – from the artistic to the practical. Students will be introduced to the basics of writing audio drama and short stories. Topics will include creating location, characterisation, dialogue, and plotting. We will also cover how to format and set out an audio script, and students will be introduced to the radio drama schedule: what kinds of dramas are broadcast, when, and for whom!
Much of what we discuss will focus on techniques of writing drama that can be applied to other media such as theatre, television or film. However, throughout the module we will be thinking about the particular possibilities and the constraints of audio: how does the listener know where they are? How many characters can we have in one scene without confusing the audience? How do sound effects work and when should the writer organise and select them?
We will also explore the possibilities offered by what Angela Carter calls 'The Amazing Picture Palace': the freedom to travel to exotic or impossible locations; the opportunities for the poetic or interior; the creation of intimacy. We will look at key figures in the history of radio drama who have expanded its potential, from Dylan Thomas to Samuel Beckett to Angela Carter and contemporary writers , whilst also looking closely at the state of audio drama and story-telling today - thinking about opportunities for new writers and looking at the practicalities of how to explain and pitch ideas. Teaching is by weekly sessions that will involve listening to and reading radio plays, tutor talks, discussion, individual writing exercises and group work.
This module aims to:
1. provide students with an understanding of the wide range of artistic and practical possibilities that radio/audio offers the writer
2. help students develop their skills in creating location, characterisation, dialogue, and plotting while writing drama for radio/audio
3. develop the techniques of writing drama that can be applied to other media such as theatre, television or film.
After successful completion of this module, students should:
1. have developed a critical understanding of the key figures in the history of radio drama who have expanded its potential
2. have investigated and critically evaluated the state of radio drama today, including its opportunities for new writers
3. have gained an understanding of the practicalities of how to explain and pitch ideas.
4. have developed their skills in writing drama for radio and developed techniques of writing drama that can be applied to other media such as theatre, television or film.
Our main resource will be listening to drama broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and 3.
BBC Sounds has radio drama which you can listen to normally for 30 days after first broadcast.
All the online resources at BBC Writers' Room are invaluable: www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom
Students will be expected to listen to radio dramas during the course of the term and discuss their thoughts on these plays. Some classic radio plays which we recommend reading are:
Beckett, Samuel. All That Fall in Samuel Beckett: The Complete Dramatic Works. London: Faber, 1986.
Carter, Angela. Come Unto These Yellow Sands in Come Unto These Yellow Sands: Four Radio Plays. Newcastle: Bloodaxe Books, 1985. (In library).
Hall, Lee. Spoonface Steinberg and other plays. BBC Books: London, 1997.
Plath, Sylvia. Three Women. (available online, or photocopy can be purchased).
Thomas, Dylan. Under Milk Wood. (In library).
Recommended Reading on radio drama:
Grove, Claire and Stephen Wyatt. So You Want to Write Radio Drama? Nick Hern Books: London, 2013. (Highly recommended for this module).
Caulfield, Annie. Writing for Radio: A Practical Guide. Crowood Press: Marlborough, 2009.
Crisell, Andrew. Understanding Radio. Routledge: London and New York, 1994.
Crook, Tim. Radio Drama: Theory and Practice. Routledge: London and New York, 1999.
Davis, Rib. Writing Dialogue for Scripts. A and C Black: London, 2005.
MacInnerny, Vincent. Writing for Radio. Manchester University Press, 2001.
MacLoughlin, Shaun. Writing for Radio. 1988.
Roberts, Philip. (ed.) Plays Without Wires. Sheffield Academic Press, 1989.
Spencer, Stuart. The Playwright's Guidebook. Faber and Faber: London, 2002
Teddern, Sue and Nick Warburton. Writing for TV and Radio. Bloomsbury: London, 2016.
Boardman-Jacobs, Sam (ed.). Radio Scriptwriting. Seren, 2004.
Hill, Christopher William. Writing for Radio. Bloomsbury, 2015.
Anticipated teaching delivery: Weekly 2-hour class
Grove, C. and Wyatt, S. (2013) So you want to write radio drama? London: Nick Hern Books.
Carter, A. (1985) Come unto these yellow sands. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books.
Beckett, S. (2006) All that fall, Collected shorter plays. London: Faber.
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||Script Proposal (formative)
||Radio Drama Script, Commentary and Listening Diary
Additional coursework information
Participation 5% (This is a mark based on your consistent preparation and participation in class discussions and exercises)
Coursework 95%. (This is the written assignment described below.)
Written Assignment: This has three components:
1. A Writer’s Proposal A concise outline of your script idea – location, characters, story, atmosphere, themes, how you will exploit the medium of radio. (One side of A4)
2. A script for an original 10- 15 minute piece of radio drama. N.B. The best way to estimate the running time of your script is simply to read it out, including any pauses and SFX.
3. A concise 500-word commentary in which you discuss your own script; your models, your inspiration and your process; you articulate how you are using the medium of radio; and you evaluate your achievement.
The 10 – 15 minute play can be developed as an ongoing process throughout the term, with plenty of workshop exercises offering possible ways into character, dialogue and plot.
Exam format definitions
- Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
- In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary,
for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.
Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Elizabeth Kuti, email: email@example.com.
Professor Elizabeth Kuti
LiFTS General Office - email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telephone 01206 872626
Dr Eleanor Perry
University of Kent
Lecturer in Creative Writing (Poetry)
Dr Christina Papagiannouli
University of South Wales
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.
Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can
be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements,
industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist
of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules.
The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.