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Writing Drama (Online)

Key facts

TypeOnline and Distance Learning
DatesMon 15 Sep to Fri 28 Nov 2014
Subject area(s)Creative Writing
CATS points10
FeesFrom £350.00
Application statusApplications being accepted
Course codeO14P391CRV
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email onlinecourses@conted.ox.ac.uk.


Drama is a hugely popular art form. This creative and critical course will help students to turn their passion for drama, whether stage, radio, television, or film, into the craft of dramatic writing, and to understand and appreciate the work of established dramatists.

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Listen to Nicholas McInerny talking about the course

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.


People love drama. Theatre attendance exceeds that of football matches every week, and television audiences are still counted in their millions. Radio’s popularity is increasing, and Cinema receipts rose to a record level last year. At the heart of all this drama is the script - the focus of our course. The approach of this course is both creative and critical. After a methodological introduction, students will learn the key elements of successful dramatic writing: structure; characterisation; dialogue; and be shown how to employ these in their own work. They will also acquire greater understanding of the four main media: stage; radio; television; and film; as well as insights into genre and adaptation. This course is for anyone who wants to write drama, or to learn more about how drama is written, in an environment that is supportive and inspirational.

Programme details

Week One: In The Beginning
Week Two: Where do Stories come from?
Week Three: Structure 1: Building Blocks
Week Four: Structure 2: Focus
Week Five :Structure 3: Variations on a Theme
Week Six: Characterisation
Week Seven: Dialogue
Week Eight: Making a Scene
Week Nine: Difference and Similarity
Week Ten: From Page to Stage

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.



Mr Shaun McCarthy

Role: Tutor

Course aims

This course will enable students to:
1. Develop a series of key technical skills that are intrinsic to all dramatic writing.
2. Develop further understanding of both the similarities and differences between Stage, Radio, TV and Film.
3. Practise individually and collectively exercises designed to improve their skills as dramatists..
4. Gain a greater understanding of the collaborative nature of dramatic writing within the context of evaluating both their own and other’s work.
5. Build a writerly practice around the ‘Portfolio’ model.


This course is accredited and you are expected to take the course for credit. To be awarded credit you must complete written contributions satisfactorily. Successful students will receive credit, awarded by the Board of Studies of Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. The award will take the form of 10 units of transferable credit at FHEQ level 4of the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). A transcript detailing the credit will be issued to successful students. Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following books:
Edgar, David: How Plays Work (Nick Hern Books, 2009) Egri, Lajos: The Art of Dramatic Writing (Touchstone,New York) either the 2004 edition or 2010 edition will be fine. In addition, pick one of the following plays and read it. You will be referring to several times during the course. Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya Henrik Ibsen, A Dolls House J M Synge, The Playboy of the Western World. As Synge is out of copyright any edition will do. For consistency on Ibsen and Chekhov translations I suggested Penguin Modern Classics. Alternatively, you can access all these plays on www.gutenberg.org

Teaching outcomes

By the end of this course students will understand:
1. Key elements of successful dramatic writing.
2. The practical application of those elements in their own work
3. The collaborative process involved in seeing a project though from initial idea to completion of first draft.

By the end of this course students will have gained the following skills:
1. Enhanced ability to employ a number of techniques in their writing.
2. An increased confidence in the use of those techniques, and their application.
3. An awareness that they are writing out of their ‘influences’ and into their own ‘voice’.

Fee options

Programme Fee
EU Fee: £350.00
Non-EU Fee: £495.00

Apply for this course

If you are unsure whether you are eligible to pay `Home/EU` or `Non-EU/overseas` fees, please read the UKCISA guidance notes to help establish your fee status.

You can apply for this course in the following ways:

Apply online
enrol onlineto secure your place on this course now
Apply by post, email or fax
Download a PDF application form PDF document.

Terms and Conditions, Student Contract.

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