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Scriptwriting and Story Design (MFA)


This uniquely interdisciplinary program nurtures emerging storytelling voices in the art of script-based creative writing for stage, screen and cutting-edge media platforms. The final thesis project is a full script for a feature film, a stage play, television or another form of scripted media.

Degree awarded: MFA

Administered by: The Creative School

Scriptwriting and Story Design graduate program website

 (PDF file) Scriptwriting and Story Design graduate program calendar 2023-24


First offered in Fall 2021.

Course Code Degree Requirements: Master of Fine Art Credits

Thesis Project Development



Thesis Project



Elements of Scripted Storytelling



Script Analysis



Research Methods for Scriptwriting



Writing for Visual Media



Acting and Directing for Writers



Graduate Writing Seminar 1



Graduate Writing Seminar 2



Contemporary Practice in Scriptwriting



Business of Scriptwriting and SD


  Students may take up to 2 optional electives from the following --- not required  


Topics in Cross-Cultural Communication



Media Languages: Forms and Approaches



Audiences and the Public



The Culture of Avant-Garde: Modernity's Discontents


Thesis Project Development

In the spring term of Year 1, students will work with their thesis supervisor to begin developing the Scriptwriting & Story Design thesis project. Students will explore dramatic context, research themes and develop characterization. By the end of this term, students will have chosen the subject of their final thesis project. This is a Milestone.

Thesis Project

Each student will be expected to individually develop a Thesis, constituting an original contribution to knowledge, which will be demonstrated through script-based projects. The project would consist of one full-length screenplay or stage play, television script, or other dramatic script-based media iteration.

Where possible, actors will be brought in to read aloud the work-in-progress to better facilitate its completion. This is a Milestone. Pass/Fail

SD8010 Elements of Scripted Storytelling

This course will investigate the intrinsic nature of story-telling - a beginning, a middle and an end - and how it is animated and driven by emotional connection and specificity of description through character, theme and scripted structure. 1 Credit

SD8011 Script Analysis

Students will examine scripts from the standpoint of the text with the aim to explore how decisions are made from the writer’s point of view. Students learn key elements of dramaturgical analysis and understand the nature of the choices and decisions that take a script from the page to the stage or screens. In this course we will be looking particularly at material done in a variety of forms: plays, screenplays and episodic television. 1 Credit

SD8012 Research Methods for Scriptwriting

This course introduces students to research methods and practices that foster socially responsive writing that engages. The course familiarizes students with a variety of information-gathering processes to better prepare them for opportunities in a variety of genres. Students learn the different modalities of practice- based and practice-led research methods, qualitative research, and identify the most appropriate methodological approaches for their projects. 1 Credit

SD8013 Writing for Visual Media

Students will explore commonalities and differences in the forms of screenplay, teleplay, stage-play and a full panoply of emerging digital media. Storytelling approaches include shifting POV, fractured narrative, episodic and layered content. 1 Credit

SD8014 Acting and Directing for Writers

Students acquire a hands-on, working knowledge of acting and directing techniques to develop a better understanding of how scripts are interpreted and “staged.” Exercises in scene study, acting methods, and directing deepen students’ skills in actor- and director-friendly writing, sharpen their attention to the components of dramatic tension, and increase their capacity for character-driven storytelling.  1 Credit

SD8015 Graduate Writing Seminar 1

In this seminar students develop their Scriptwriting & Story Design thesis project. This will involve feedback from the supervisor, course instructor and other students. By the end of this seminar, students will have a solid outline of their chosen subject and a second reader for their final thesis project. 1 Credit

SD8016 Graduate Writing Seminar 2

With the support of the thesis supervisor, and feedback from the course instructor and other students, the writer will present ongoing drafts of their thesis culminating in a feature-length screenplay, stage play or television script/pilot. This is a class focused - as a key element in successful scriptwriting - on rewriting and revision. 1 Credit

SD8017 Contemporary Practice in Scriptwriting

Students will examine contemporary practices by viewing and analyzing current film, theatre, television and emerging media productions. Guest artists will contribute their unique expertise to helping students articulate the effects of differing creative choices on the scripted piece. 1 Credit

SD8018 Business of Scriptwriting and SD

Students will explore the challenges and opportunities of bringing their scripted works to audiences from a business vantage point. Guest speakers, from industry and the creative community, will lend their expertise in areas such as creative development, financing, production, talent representation and presentation platforms. 1 Credit


CD8310 Topics in Cross Cultural Comm

The term cross-cultural competence denotes a vast complex of competencies, which educators, politicians and business leaders around the world have identified as one of the most crucial of the 21st century. The purpose of this course will be to foster such "competence" through a wide-ranging examination of the major social issues that affect communication across national and cultural boundaries. 1 Credit

CD8320 Media Lang: Forms, Approaches

This interdisciplinary course will investigate both common elements (visual and auditory narratives, methods of presentation/distribution, cultural roles) and specific attributes (individual characteristics and technologies) of contemporary media forms. Key developments in the evolution of media types and media languages will be explored in the larger context of understanding critical and theoretical issues associated with these forms and languages. 1 Credit

CD8330 Audiences and the Public

The course addresses the challenges concerning value creation and the effective design and delivery of media/mediated products and services from the perspective of the audience. The course brings an interdisciplinary conceptual framework to bear on contemporary media and mediated consumption to investigate five principal ways of audiencing (citizen, spectator, customer, user and player) as well as the new audience sociability and several key issues around managing it: metrics, presumption, fans, transmedia, and business models. 1 Credit.

DM8302 The Culture of Avant-Garde: Modernity's Discontents

This course explores the discontent that members of vanguard artistic movements of the 20th century harbored relative to the culture of modernity, and examines the different forms that this discontent (or protest) assumed in Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Lettrism and Situationism. The course examines both key documents in cultural theory and the manifestos issued by various groups, and is concerned particularly with artists who attempted to forge a link between political revolution and a revolution in consciousness. The role the cinema played in all these artistic movements is given special consideration, as is the re- contextualization of this work as a document of its own culture and time. Antirequisite CC8983. 1 Credit