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Thinking Through Playwriting - TFT00066M

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Hannah Davies
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will explore a range of analytical and practical skills that will be useful to you in your study of playwriting, and will extend and deepen the knowledge you already have. We will analyse live theatre productions and dramatic texts, alongside contextual historical and theoretical material. Using discussion, writing, spectatorship, analysis collaboration and independent work as methodologies for learning, this module will lay the foundations for the rest of your MA studies, and will equip you for the exciting challenges ahead. This module is designed to lay the theoretical and practical foundations for your studies.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

  • to introduce you to the fundamental elements of the playwriting craft, character, dialogue, plot and structure

  • to give you a wide range of writers’ work to draw on

  • to develop your ability to reflect and analyse your own process in relation to other practitioner’s work

  • To establish your role in the wider processes of theatre-making

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you will be expected:

  • to understand the key aspects of the playwright’s craft (e.g. character, plot, dialogue, structure) and how to address them in your writing

  • to have developed your workshop and collaboration skills

  • to have established a supportive, safe, critically reflective community of writers and theatre-makers

  • to have engaged with playwriting manuals, other writers’ creative works as well as traditional academic sources to enhance your own writing

  • to have reflected upon, and written about, aspects of your own writing process

Module content

Weeks 1-6 with MA Theatre-making students. Weeks 7 - 11 the cohorts split into respective programmes.


Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio of example scripts
N/A 70
Reflective analysis essay
N/A 30

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative: Script (2000 words) and in seminar feedback.


Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio of example scripts
N/A 70
Reflective analysis essay
N/A 30

Module feedback

You will receive written feedback in line with standard University turnaround times.

Indicative reading

Adiseshiah, S. and Lepage, L. (eds.) (2016). Twenty-First Century Drama: What Happens Now. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Bentley, G. (1972). The Profession of Dramatist in Shakespeare's Time, 1590-1642. Princeton: princeton University Press.

Castagno, P. (2011). New Playwriting Strategies. Abingdon: Routledge.

Catron, L. (2018). The Elements of Playwriting. Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press.

Edgar, D. (2009). How Plays Work. London: Nick Hern.

Egri, L. (2003). The Art of Dramatic Writing. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Kiely, D. (2016). How to Read a Play. Abingdon: Routledge.

Smiley, S. (2005). Playwriting: The Structure of Action. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Stephens, J. (1992). The Profession of the Playwright: British Theatre, 1800–1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, V. (2002). Stage Writing: A Practical Guide. Marlborough: Crowood Press.

Tichler, R. and Kaplan, B. (2012). The Playwright at Work. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Waters, S. (2010). The Secret Life of Plays. London: Nick Hern.

Wright, M. (2010). Playwriting in Process: Thinking and Working Theatrically. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.