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MA Playwriting

Explore the craft of writing for the theatre

Year of entry: 2019


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

Focus on your artistic and professional development as a writer. Immerse yourself in all aspects of writing for theatre in a creative and supportive environment, taught by visiting professional writers and our expert staff.

On this course we combine writing workshops with seminar discussions. The practice of writing is interwoven with critical analysis and preparation for a professional career. You'll have the chance to generate an extensive portfolio of writing in various styles and genres, and will work collaboratively with other writers, directors and actors to develop your plays. Beyond your writing you will learn about new play development in the UK, along with specific skills needed for the industry.

You’ll gain the research, writing and practical skills that you need to write for the theatre, or to prepare you for further academic study. Our students and graduates have an enviable range of achievements and we're also proud of our links to industry.

Distinguished visiting speakers

We have a wide range of industry connections and regularly host visiting speakers and masterclasses. We have previously worked with Simon Stephens, Alistair McDowell and Laura Wade.

Unique creative environment

Bringing together world-leading researchers, dynamic teachers and industry professionals in a vibrant community.

The high standard of teaching from the university lecturers and the visiting theatre practitioners meant that I was pushed well beyond my comfort zone. A highlight was performing in Caryl Churchill's 'Far Away' at the York Theatre Royal and getting onto the West Yorkshire Playhouse's new playwriting scheme. The course inspired my theatre in education work.

Course content

You'll learn the craft of playwriting for the theatre, and the professional practices of the field through your modules and from contact with leading theatre-makers through theatre projects, masterclasses, lectures and workshops. 

You'll cover all aspects of playwriting, from the creation of scripts and the process of writing, to the marketplace. You'll undertake an extended writing project, worth over half the credits for the course, which gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of playwriting by completing an independent and ambitious work.

You'll develop specific skills that you will need to work in the profession, such as how to pitch new work, apply for funding and write to a commission. You'll also be prepared for further academic study, particularly via practice as research.


You'll study a total of 180 credits. 80 of these will be through taught modules in the first two terms. You'll then go on to study a further 100 credits as part of an extended practical writing project in the third term and vacation. 

You'll engage with the process of script development, from how to create characters and generate script ideas, to the relationships between structure, story and character; from research and analysis, to industry-standard layout and formatting and working with actors and directors. You'll also consider contemporary theatre and performance texts, explore and analyse established writers’ approaches and methods, and undertake research to develop source material for your own plays.

  • Thinking Through Playwriting (20 credits)
  • Playwriting in the Marketplace (20 credits)
  • Form and Realisation (20 credits)
  • Guided Writing Project (20 credits)

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


The final term and summer vacation is dedicated to the design and development of your extended practical writing project.

This gives you the opportunity to follow your interests and design and execute an independent scriptwriting project for a full length play of around 90 minutes.

You'll also write a 4,000-word reflective essay to accompany your writing project.

  • Extended Practical Writing Project (100 credits)

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2019/20

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year)£7,810£17,370

Students on a Tier 4 Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Additional costs

Theatre trips

We are ideally placed to take advantage of some of the country's best theatres, in York, Manchester, Sheffield, Scarborough, Hull, Leeds and more. We want you to become familiar with as much theatre as possible. We run regular trips to local and regional theatres; some may be connected directly to a module and others are of wider interest,. We encourage you to make your own way to see more. The majority of organised trips are optional, but you should budget for at least one theatre trip a term.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Department scholarship information

Further details of department specific funding.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

The visitors programme gave us the opportunity to meet actors, directors, writers, academics, comedians, and more. I finished my MA with a three-week placement at the Stephen Joseph Theatre where I worked in the education department. My MA gave me the confidence to go for a career in theatre.
Dan, graduate

Playwriting in depth

Explore the craft of writing for the theatre, or for practice as academic research. Learn all the skills you need for the theatre industry.

Theatre trips

Join us for optional local and regional theatre trips. As a student of theatre we want you to become familiar with as much and as wide a range of theatre as possible.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

You'll be taught with a range of different teaching styles, from lectures and seminars to practical writing workshops and problem-solving sessions. 

We incorporate masterclasses from industry professionals in theatre. You'll have the opportunity to attend talks, productions and festivals. You'll also be able to attend screenings that relate to theatre and performance.

You'll be assigned a member of our teaching staff who will act as your personal supervisor. They are there to give advice on academic matters as well as other areas of University life. For your project or dissertation you'll also be assigned a supervisor who may be a different member of staff.


We have excellent purpose-built facilities available to you.

  • Black Box: a large double-height space for shoots, events and performances 
  • 200-seat theatre: well-equipped theatre, with superb lighting and sound facilities 
  • Rehearsal rooms: large or small rooms suitable for many purposes 
  • 3Sixty: innovative room that allows a fully immersive presentation 
  • Other facilities 

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television on Campus East. Your contact hours will be divided between the Department of Theatre, Film and Television and Wentworth College on Campus West.


About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll be assessed throughout your course. Some modules have an early assessment that contributes a small amount to your final mark and gives an opportunity to check your progress.

Types of assessment vary depending on the module and may include the following:

  • Multiple-scene scripts of various lengths, styles and genres 
  • Reflective, critical, analytical essays 
  • Research presentations in class 
  • Writer portfolios (pitch letters, funding documents etc) 
  • A full-length play and accompanying reflective essay as final project
Scenic Stage Theatre, TFTV
Close up of book in theatre rehearsal

Careers and skills

This course develops a range of critical, practical, and professional writing skills for theatre. You'll find there’s a wide variety of career paths open to you across theatre and academia. A significant number of our graduates have set up their own theatre companies. Graduates have also gone on to further research, a PhD, or practical training with conservatoires. 

Career opportunities

Many graduates work in the following areas:

  • Screenwriters
  • Playwrights
  • Actors
  • Directors
  • Designers
  • Producers
  • Technicians
  • Literary managers
  • Dramaturges
  • Literary agents.

Transferable skills

While you train to be a professional in theatre you'll also develop skills that are useful in any industry.

  • Collaborative working
  • Problem-solving
  • Investigative and historical research
  • Time-management and organisation
  • Critical evaluation
  • Reflective learning

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer

You should have, or be about to complete, a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification, although we will consider applications from students with lower qualifications.

You may have taken creative writing, theatre, drama or performance as part of your undergraduate degree, or may have extracurricular experience in theatre and are now looking to specialise in playwriting. You're expected to show a commitment to theatre but extensive experience is not a prerequisite. You should provide evidence of any professional experience.

Our students come from a range of academic backgrounds: if you're unsure about studying at Masters level please contact our admissions team to find out more. We are also very supportive of our mature students - if you've been thinking about returning to education at any point in your life, the MA Playwriting allows you to bring your experiences into a university setting, and to make sure you get the best out of the experience.

The international equivalents of UK qualifications are shown on our country-specific pages. You can also contact the international team for guidance.

English language

If you're a non-native English speaking applicant you must provide evidence of your English language ability.

  • IELTS: 6.5, with no less than 6.0 in each component
  • PTE: 61, with no less than 55 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with no less than 169 in each component
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 21 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all components.

Full details of all acceptable tests and relevant exemptions.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Department of Theatre, Film and Television

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