Introduction to Screenwriting

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
20 August 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

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)

Module description

This module introduces students to some of the practical and theoretical aspects of writing for the screen. It will investigate script form and structure in feature and short films, as well as examining techniques of ideas generation and creating memorable characters and plots.

Students will be expected to write their own short films, essays which reflect their understanding of screenwriting, and also participate in creative pitching and ideas development sessions. Preparation for and participation in the module will involve compulsory viewing of all the films, preferably at the scheduled time on campus, attendance at weekly two hour seminars, the reading of relevant extracts and screenplays as well as some creative homework.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. To introduce students to a range of screenwriting styles and contrasting approaches used to create original work.

2. To introduce students to some of the techniques used to construct a successful screenplay and to inspire them to create original stories in a cinematic context.

3. To enable students to find their voice and create engaging, original and thought provoking scripts.

4. To familiarise students with terminology used by screenwriters and to enable students to write a short film script.

5. To introduce students to how the film industry works from a writers perspective.

Module learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will:

* be competent in screenwriting.
* be fluent in the critical language used by screenwriters.
* be able to distinguish a variety of critical approaches to screenwriting.
* understand how to navigate the industry as a screenwriter.

Module information

Selected readings and extracts from:

Robert McKee, Story, Methuen, 1998.
Syd Field, Screenplay, Dell Pub. Co., 1994.
Ken Dancyer and Jeff Rush, Alternative Scriptwriting, Elsevier/Focal Press, 2007.
Christopher Booker, The Seven Basic Plots, Continuum, 2004.
William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade, Abacus, 2010.
Linda J. Cowgill, Writing Short Films, St Martin's Press, 2005.
Patricia Cooper & Ken Dancyger, Writing the Short Film, Elsevier/Focal Press, 2005.
J.J. Murphy, Me and You and Memento and Fargo, Continuum, 2007.
Christopher Vogler, The Writers Journey, Michael Wiese Productions, 2007.
John Yorke, Into the Woods, Penguin 2013.
Annie Proulx, Close Range, Harper Collins 1999/2006

Selected Screenplays/Treatments:

Groundhog Day, It Follows, American Beauty, The Fisher King, Whiplash, Reservoir Dogs, Juno,
Brokeback Mountain, The White Ribbon, Stranger Than Paradise, Barton Fink, Little Miss Sunshine, The Player, Adaptation.

Learning and teaching methods

Weekly 2-hour seminar, screenings


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Participation     5% 
Coursework   Assignment 1 (Screenplay package)    30% 
Coursework   Assignment 2 (Essay - 2,500 words)    25% 
Coursework   Assignment 3 (Screenplay package)    40% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mr Bevan Walsh, email:
Bevan Walsh
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Mikel Koven
University of Worcester
Senior Lecturer - Film Studies
Available via Moodle
Of 134 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
58 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
76 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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.