Writing for the Theatre

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
17 April 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This is a practical module which aims to introduce students to some of the tools and techniques involved in writing successfully for the theatre. The module will examine the flexibility and variety of theatre as a story-telling medium and will look at some of the many different approaches available to the playwright. The emphasis will be divided equally between the dramaturgical analysis of plays and the development of students' own skills through practical exercises and assignments. While identifying, exploring and practising certain key dramatic structures will form the backbone of the course, no one 'method' of writing plays will be advocated. Instead students will be encouraged to explore their own interests, and develop their own creative processes.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. To introduce students to some of the tools and techniques involved in writing successfully for the theatre.
2. To develop students' critical understanding of the flexibility and variety of theatre as a story-telling medium
3. To provide students with the conceptual tools of dramaturgical analysis
4. To provide a broad understanding of the different approaches to dramatic structures and playwriting.

Module learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students should be able:

1. To understand and analyse the theory and practice of dramatic composition

2. To have a detailed knowledge and understanding of a range of tools and techniques available to the playwright

3. To apply a range of approaches to their own writing for the theatre

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Teaching will be through a weekly three-hour seminar session. The ethos of the module is to maintain a practical approach, exploring playwriting through example and analysis rather than through precept.


  • Churchill, Caryl. (c2002) A number, London: Nick Hern Books.
  • Akhtar, Ayad. (2013) Disgraced, New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Smith, Al. (2016) Harrogate, London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
  • Friel, Brian. (2001, c1980) Faith Healer, London: Faber.
  • O'Rowe, Mark. (2011) Terminus, London: Nick Hern.
  • Churchill, Caryl. (1990) Three More Sleepless Nights, London: Nick Hern Books.
  • Waters, Steve. (c2010) The secret life of plays, London: Nick Hern Books.
  • Donoghue, Vickie. (©2012) Mudlarks, London: Methuen Drama.
  • Placey, Evan. (2013) Girls Like That, London: Nick Hern Books.
  • Birch, Alice. (2011) Many moons, London: Oberon Books.
  • Waters, Steve. (2010) Secret Life of Plays, London: Nick Hern Books.
  • Kuti, Elizabeth. (2007) The six-days world, London: Nick Hern Books.
  • Kane, Sarah. (1988) Crave, London: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. vol. Methuen drama
  • Reiss, Anya. (2011) The Acid Test, London: Oberon Books. vol. Oberon modern plays
  • Moss, Chloë. (2008) This wide night, London: Nick Hern Books.
  • Kane, Sarah. (1998) Crave, London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
  • Spencer, Stuart. (2002) The playwright's guidebook, New York: Faber and Faber.
  • Edgar, David. (2009) How plays work, London: Nick Hern.
  • Friel, Brian. (2001) Faith Healer, London: Faber & 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 Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Participation marks 5%
Coursework Essay (2,500 – 3,000 words) 16/03/2020 25%
Coursework Short play of 20 minutes plus 1,500 word commentary 24/04/2020 45%
Practical Short play of 10 -15 minutes (the ‘Bed’ Play plus 1,000 word commentary) 06/01/2020 25%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Andrew Burton
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Anthony Fisher
Reader in Theatre and Philosophy
Available via Moodle
Of 120 hours, 114 (95%) hours available to students:
6 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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