Screenwriting is the art and craft of writing scripts for films, television shows, and other visual media. It is a specialised form of writing that requires unique skills, including creating compelling characters, engaging plots, and interesting dialogue. Screenwriters are responsible for creating the blueprint for a visual story, and their work often serves as the foundation for the entire production.
A good screenwriting program can be crucial for aspiring screenwriters looking to develop their skills and launch their careers. A program can provide writers with a structured curriculum that covers everything from the basics of screenwriting to advanced techniques and industry trends.
Additionally, a program can offer access to experienced faculty members who can provide guidance and feedback on students' work and opportunities to network with professionals in the industry.
Choosing the right screenwriting program can make a significant difference in a writer's career trajectory, helping them to hone their skills, gain industry connections, and ultimately succeed in the highly competitive world of screenwriting.
Best universities for screenwriting in the UK
University of East Anglia (UEA)
The University of East Anglia's screenwriting program is a one-year full-time MA course designed to teach students the essential writing skills needed for film and television. The program focuses on developing students' ability to create compelling characters, dynamic dialogue, and engaging stories suitable for the screen. Students will learn through lectures, seminars, and workshops and can work on individual and group projects throughout the course.
Notable alumni of the UEA screenwriting program include Andrew Davies, the writer behind the BBC's Pride and Prejudice, and Ayub Khan-Din, the writer of the hit film East Is East.
London Film School (LFS)
The London Film School offers a two-year MA in screenwriting that gives students a comprehensive understanding of screenwriting. The program combines theoretical and practical training, allowing students to learn the fundamentals of screenwriting while also gaining hands-on experience working on film and television projects. The program includes workshops, lectures, and seminars led by experienced industry professionals.
Notable alumni of the LFS screenwriting program include Mike Leigh, the director and writer of Secrets & Lies and Vera Drake, and Michael Mann, the writer and director of Heat and Collateral.
National Film and Television School (NFTS)
The National Film and Television School's screenwriting program is a two-year MA course that aims to provide students with a thorough understanding of the screenwriting process. The program includes modules on storytelling, character development, and genre, as well as practical training in pitching, script editing, and working with producers. Students will work on various projects, including short films and television pilots.
Notable alumni of the NFTS screenwriting program include David Yates, the director of the Harry Potter films, and Hanif Kureishi, the writer of My Beautiful Laundrette and The Buddha of Suburbia.
Royal Holloway, University of London
Royal Holloway, University of London, offers a one-year MA in screenwriting that covers the fundamentals of screenwriting, including character development, plot structure, and dialogue. The program includes theoretical and practical training, workshops, and lectures led by experienced industry professionals. Students will have the opportunity to work on individual and group projects throughout the course.
Notable alumni of the Royal Holloway screenwriting program include Lucy Prebble, the writer of the hit television series Succession, and Alex Garland, the writer and director of Ex Machina and Annihilation.
Factors to consider when choosing a screenwriting program
The curriculum is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a screenwriting program. A good program should offer a comprehensive education in the art and craft of screenwriting, covering everything from the basics of story structure to advanced techniques for character development and dialogue. Look for programs that provide hands-on training in writing and developing scripts for film and television and opportunities to work with industry professionals and gain feedback on your work.
The faculty of a screenwriting program can play a significant role in the quality of education that you receive. Look for programs with experienced faculty members actively working in the industry and with a track record of success in screenwriting. These professors can offer invaluable insights into the craft of screenwriting and provide valuable feedback on your work.
The facilities available to students in a screenwriting program can also be an important factor to consider. Look for programs that offer access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology, such as editing suites and soundstages, and a supportive environment for creativity and collaboration. Some programs also offer opportunities to attend film festivals and other industry events, providing exposure to the larger film and television community.
The location of a screenwriting program can also be an important consideration. Look for programs in areas with a strong film and television industry, such as Los Angeles or London, which can provide networking opportunities and help gain industry experience. Additionally, consider programs in cities that offer a high quality of life and affordable cost of living.
Opportunities for networking
Finally, consider the networking opportunities available through a screenwriting program. Look for programs that offer connections to industry professionals, such as guest speakers or internship opportunities.
Consider joining student organisations or attending events and workshops outside of your program to expand your network and gain exposure to a wider range of opportunities in the industry. Ultimately, the connections you make during your time in a screenwriting program can be key to launching a successful career in the industry.
In summary, the best universities for screenwriting in the UK include the University of East Anglia (UEA), the London Film School (LFS), the National Film and Television School (NFTS), and Royal Holloway, University of London. Each of these programs offers a strong curriculum, experienced faculty, and excellent facilities, along with opportunities for networking and gaining experience in the industry.
When choosing a screenwriting program, it is important to consider various factors, including the curriculum, faculty, facilities, location, and networking opportunities. Ultimately, the best program for you will depend on your individual goals and preferences, so it is important to do your research and carefully consider your options before deciding. Remember that a good screenwriting program can provide you with the skills, experience, and connections you need to launch a successful career in the film and television industry.