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MA Playwriting

Explore the craft of writing for the theatre

Year of entry: 2022 (September)


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2022 (term dates)

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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.

University of the Year shortlisted

We're proud to announce that we've been shortlisted for two prestigious University of the Year awards.

  • Times Higher Education Awards 2021
  • The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022

Find out more about our nominations

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, 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 taught modules and an extended practical writing project. 

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.

You will study modules which may include:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.


The summer 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.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Write and develop scripts of high aesthetic quality, and to collaborate with production teams to realise those scripts on the stage.
  • Construct and present compelling ideas and arguments demonstrating systematic research, resourcefulness, and rigour in a variety of written and oral formats, utilising knowledge or processes from the forefront of playwriting practice.
  • Conduct, with minimum guidance, research for the development of theatrical writing, making professional use of people and source materials as appropriate.
  • Generate works for the stage in a wide variety of lengths, genres and styles, and demonstrate the potential to write for related media, such as radio plays and interactive media.
  • Exercise initiative and personal responsibility in the professional practices associated with script development.
  • Engage confidently in professional communication with others in the new writing marketplace autonomously and competently, in order to derive the maximum benefit from its processes and opportunities.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2022/23

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,290£19,950
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

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

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

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.

Funding information

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

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2022/23 throughout the year.

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

Funding opportunities

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.

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.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media (TFTI) on Campus East. Your contact hours will be divided between TFTI 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

  • Screenwriter
  • Playwright
  • Actor
  • Director
  • Public relations specialist
  • Literary manager

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

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent. If you hold a qualification below 2:1 or equivalent, relevant prior experience of an appropriate nature, may be considered.
Other qualifications and 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.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

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.

You will need to submit a sample of your creative work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting creative work.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 169 in each component
Duolingo 110, minimum 100 in all other components
LanguageCert B2 Communicator High Pass with 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


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, Television and Interactive Media

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