MI4003 - Screenwriting 1

What will I learn on this module?

This module will introduce you to the main principles of screenwriting theory and encourage you to deploy these in practical exercises that allow you to write strong and coherent proposals and scripts based on intensive research. These will be considered through discussion within an informed and supportive environment. You will also be
introduced to the history and development of screenwriting.
Lectures set out the aims and learning outcomes of each session and are followed by screenwriting workshops where you develop and pitch ideas and work on drafts.
Summative assessment comprises a documentary project that is assessed on proposal (30% - 1500 words equivalent) and a screenplay development and production theory exercise, which is assessed by small group visual script projects (70% - 1500 words equivalent).

The indicative content of the module includes:
1. The historical development of screenwriting.
2. Characterisation.
3. Narrative structure and storytelling.
4. Analysis of film structures as narrative vehicles.
5. Dialogue writing for the screen.
6. Documentary research and screenplay development.

How will I learn on this module?

Lectures will introduce you to the core principles of screenwriting such as characterisation, plot development and dialogue writing; these will be supported by practical sessions in which extracts and examples are used to facilitate the understanding of the ideas introduced. Workshops will introduce you to the guided production of work that articulates broad notions of screenwriting. Workshops will also allow you to engage in a process of script research and development in consultation with tutors. This will involve a cycle of writing exercises, script drafts and critical formative feedback. While there will be an emphasis on the practical development of screenplay writing, you will be encouraged to develop a critical understanding of your work through group critical discussion.

Outside of the taught sessions, you will be expected to engage with module-relevant reading in preparation for the sessions. An electronic reading list is supplied via the e-Learning Portal, which will guide you towards appropriate resources, although you are encouraged to explore the wider library catalogue to engage with additional sources too. During your independent working time, it is also expected that you will apply the ideas raised in the reading and the taught content to film examples of your own choosing (reflecting your individual interests), and to your own practice.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Whilst the lectures and workshops help you to gain the skills of writing for the screen in all of the ways previously mentioned, discussion and in class
development of ideas are embedded into this module, and as key parts of the assessment have a degree of synergy with other modules (Film Production 1 - as some of the scripts actually go in to production) early formative feedback during the module lets you know how well you are performing. Tutorials are also offered, as one to one discussions, about the development of individual ideas.
All of the module information and learning materials are available on the eLearning Portal pages for the module and written feedback is offered for both project outcomes, where tutors identify strengths and weaknesses as well as a section on ‘how to improve’ for future learning. An opportunity is presented for you to have any further clarification, of things you did not understand, on completion of the module.
Formative assessment is offered throughout the module, and summative assignments will receive written feedback within 20 working days of assignment submission. Every tutor has set weekly feedback and tutorial drop-in hours, wherein you can seek advice on your academic progress. Where appropriate you may also be directed to engage with our Skills Plus or other resources offered through the University Student Support Services such as Dyslexia Support. Guidance tutorials also provide opportunities for students to discuss, in confidence, their academic progress on the programme.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. Understand the key components of screenwriting: such as structure, character, plot, dialogue, exposition, symbolism, and themes.

2. Gain an ability to identify potential stories for both fiction screenplays and factual documentary proposals based on robust research practices.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

3. Present the work in the correct format, demonstrating your research capabilities and your critical awareness.

4. Self-motivation and problem solving: Develop verbal and written presentation skills.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

5. Teamwork: Show and understanding of the importance of group work and demonstrate
confidence in dealing with the subject in a wider cultural context.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment is carried out by workshop peer review of your critical written work,
production proposals and pitching exercises.

Summative feedback is through workshops and also on assessment feedback forms indicating particular strengths of the work once submitted. Summative feedback will also explicitly draw attention to the ways in which future performances can be improved.

There are two elements of assessment in this module. The documentary proposal (1500 words) that is designed to test your ability to research and extrapolate story from ‘real world’ scenarios and to present it as part of a coherent proposal for a production project, addressing MLOs 1, 2, 3 4 & 5.

The second assessment element is the screenplay development and production of a photo roman (1500 words), these are assessed as small group visual script projects addressing MLOs 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 .
The screenplay development and production theory exercise tests your understanding of the key principles that were introduced into lectures as well as your ability to work collaboratively on the development and presentation of a visual script project.





Module abstract

This module introduces you to storytelling on screen; you develop a documentary treatment from in depth research into a ‘person’ to create a ‘portrait’ and you will work in teams to make a visual story sequence, using a technique called ‘Photo Roman’. These projects are in the context of an introduction to screenwriting, concentrating on narrative structure, characterisation and writing dialogue for the screen. There will also be analysis of film structures to tell stories, the use of research as a creative tool for developing ideas and finally, how to develop the scripts.

Course info

UCAS Code P310

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


Useful Links

Find out about our distinctive approach at 

Admissions Terms and Conditions

Fees and Funding

Admissions Policy

Admissions Complaints Policy