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Writing Television Drama

  • Module code: TV6008
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 6
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of core Level 2 TV Studies module or equivalent
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This is the module that can make you rich! Television is allegedly the second highest paid industry in the country (working in oil is more lucrative - but very uncomfortable). A reliable route to creative success and untold wealth in television now is the drama series. Mainstay of both terrestrial and digital channels, the returning series is TV's holy grail – pulling audiences back for episode after episode, season after season, box set after box set. It can be a goldmine.

Taught by two highly experienced TV professionals, this module will consider how a returning drama series is conceived and constructed. Students are introduced to concepts of dramatic structure and story-lining, using case studies of successful US and British models, together with practical exercises on serialisation and script writing. Working from concept to storyline to script, students develop their own original drama series (or comedy), and undertake research into the current broadcasting landscape – its channels, schedules and market imperatives.  The final assessment is an industry-standard pitch accompanied by a short script sample, aimed at UK television. Students demonstrate their research and a knowledge of social and commercial context in a supplementary market evaluation.

This module isn't just for would-be writers: it's for anyone keen to understand contemporary broadcasting, refine their communication skills, and learn how to present their work and themselves in a professional context. At the end of this stimulating and entertaining course, students will have created their own drama series and (potentially) their own industry calling card.

Aims

  • Investigate television drama as a significant site for the construction of myth and meaning within modern culture
  • Analyse television drama via a range of modern critical and theoretical approaches
  • Introduce students to the practical requirements of writing for television drama
  • Explore how a television drama series develops from idea to script and then to screen

Learning outcomes

  • An understanding of the economic and institutional restraints to the writing of television drama
  • An understanding of specific tele-visual conventions in the construction and delivery of television drama
  • Practical experience in the creation and delivery of a short piece of dramatic writing for television

Curriculum content

  • Critical examination of genres in TV drama 
  • Writing treatments (story outlines) and scenes, and building characters and dialogue through practical exercises and workshops

Teaching and learning strategy

The module will be taught in a weekly 3 hour lecture/workshop combining theory and analysis with practical exercises demonstrating a variety of approaches. Students will work on individual and group writing exercises, for example producing plot outlines, making pitches and writing scripts.

Students will also undertake individual research and development projects leading to the portfolios they submit for final assessment. In the concluding weeks of the module, students are offered individual tutorials to support them in the development of this portfolio.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lecture/seminars 33 hours
Guided independent study 267 hours
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The assessment for this module is a pitch for an original drama series or sitcom (3500 words) to include:

  • A Bible: a title log line and series description for an original idea for either a returning drama, a sitcom, or a soap opera (max.500 words)
  • Three specific character profiles (max.500 words)
  • Treatment for episode 1 (max.episode 1)
  • Summaries of remaining episodes (max. 500 words)
  • A section of the opening episode script ( between 1000 and 1300 words)

Market evaluation (300 words) to show where your project fits in the current TV schedules; whether it is multi-platform and/interactive; channel and target audience; why this project is viable.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
An understanding of the economic and institutional restraints to the writing of television drama Assessed summatively through the pitch and formatively through in class discussion.
An understanding of specific tele-visual conventions in the construction and delivery of television drama Assessed summatively through the pitch and formatively through in class discussion
Practical experience in the creation and delivery of a short piece of dramatic writing for television Assessed summatively through the pitch and formatively through in class discussion

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Pitch for an original drama series or sitcom 100
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS a requirement that the major category of assessment is passed in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

McKee R (199) Story, Methuen Film

Field, S (2005) Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting: A Step by Step Guide From Concept to Finished Script, Delta.

bibliography will be provided on each individual module descriptor.

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