Drama Writing at BOVTS is designed to nurture you in finding your distinctive voice as a writer for stage, screen and audio. The course aims to be innovative in its approach, by immersing you within the whole theatre and screen portfolio. You’ll develop a systematic understanding of dramatic writing as an art, craft and business and see your work explored practically by other students.
This highly practical course is innovative in its approach by immersing future playwrights within the whole theatre and screen portfolio. By building professional assurance through artistic practice, students will develop a systematic understanding of dramatic writing as an art, craft and business.
An Opportunity to See Your Work Explored Practically by Actors, Directors and Other Theatre Makers
Students will have their work bought to life by working with other students studying acting, directing, production arts and stage management from across the school.
The Drama Writing programme is delivered through masterclasses, workshops and seminars delivered by top industry professionals and experienced practitioners.
This is a full-time course, but contact hours will normally be concentrated into two to three days a week (normally Wednesday to Friday), with six ‘intensive weeks’ spread through the year. The Writers’ Hub is a dedicated space for teaching & learning, individual writing and for the group to programme activities.
Students will gain an understanding of how directors and actors unpack text. They will also have their scripts examined in practice as actors bring their scripts to life at various points through the course. Students will have access to industry standard facilities including a dedicated writers’ room, a radio drama studio and film department.
This course is delivered from a practitioners’ perspective and the hands-on experience will ensure an excellent start to graduates’ careers and prepare them for employment by providing a practical and critical understanding of commissioning and other industry processes.
The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School has a renowned literary pedigree, and enjoys relationships with theatres across the city, south west and nationally. For instance, the School mounts productions in partnership with the Bristol Old Vic, Redgrave Theatre and Tobacco Factory, amongst others, on a regular basis, ensuring that students experience practical application of their craft in professional settings.
Studying and developing your craft of writing within a drama school means that you will have the opportunity to see your work practically explored by actors, directors and other theatre makers.
This is a full-time course. Contact time averages 14 hours per week. Students should expect to undertake at least 15 hours per week of independent study. There will be some weeks where students will need to be in School all week – for example to workshop their Dramatic Medium Part One scenes, to record their radio plays, to attend rehearsal of their signature scripts etc. Students will need to be flexible as some rescheduling may be necessary.
The Writers’ Hub is a dedicated space for teaching & learning, individual writing and for the group to programme activities.
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School – Operating on two specialist teaching sites (Downside Road, main site and Christchurch Studios).
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is an associate school of the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), a Higher Education Provider registered with the Office for Students. On successful completion of this course, you will receive an award from UWE Bristol. Because of their vocational nature, BOVTS does not award degree classifications – all assessment is completed on a pass or fail basis.
Normally, successful candidates will have a first degree.
If English is not your first language, you will need to demonstrate English language proficiency through a relevant qualification, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which can also be used to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requirements. For MA Drama Writing, an overall score of 7.0 is normally required, with a minimum of 7.0 in each component of reading, writing, listening and speaking.
It is expected that all candidates will have some demonstrated experience of dramatic writing. Candidates would be expected to have either substantial writing experience in a non-drama medium or have been working in the drama industry and now wish to develop their writing skills.
As part of the selection process, you will be required to provide an example of your drama writing in the form of a 25-page script. This can be a stand-alone complete piece or an extract from a longer play. We will not accept a combination of short scripts. Initial shortlisting for interview is primarily based on this piece of writing, along with the information you provide in your application and CV.
In the script we look for: a strong theatrical scene of the dramatic; differentiated and engaging characters; and an involving storyline. Applicants will be interviewed by two members of the teaching team.
There are no interview fees.
This module map provides a list of the modules that make up your course.
Each module is worth a specified number of credits: All modules are compulsory, enabling you to cover key subject knowledge while developing your own interests.
Optional Modules: There are no optional modules for this stage of this award.
Interim Award: There are no interim awards under this award scheme.
Award: MA Drama Writing
Credit requirements: MA – 180 credits
The programme is practical and career focused.
Coaching/teaching practice takes place either within the School in tutorial or class settings; on student productions in professional theatres; or in other professional contexts outside the School.
The broad aims of the course are:
Only eight students are accepted on to the course each academic year.
Students are expected to be engaged on the course for a minimum of 35 hours a week over 38 weeks. Contact hours will vary depending upon the module.
Academic and Student Support
The School is committed to selecting, training and supporting students, regardless of ethnicity, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion. Applicants are chosen solely on the basis of their talent and potential to develop the skills required for their chosen profession. The School does, however, judge applicants on their suitability for a course and their potential to successfully complete the training, as the work is rigorous and requires high levels of energy and commitment.
Student Support on the programmes at the School covers a variety of areas such as support for disabled students, academic support, student finance and health and welfare. Julia Heeley, Student Support Manager, is able to answer queries about support available for disabled applicants/students. Her email address is [email protected] and she can also be reached by telephone on 0117 980 9247.
Our Academic and Student Support services team provides help in the following areas:
Support for students with disabilities including specific learning difficulties
In our admissions process, we are committed to supporting students with disabilities. Disabled students are encouraged to disclose their support requirements so that we can endeavour to meet them during the audition or interview process and subsequent training. The School welcomes all students regardless of disability. It is our aim to provide appropriate support so that all students are able to achieve their full potential.
Students with a disability will be provided with advice and support from the Student Support Manager. If you have a disability or specific learning difficulty we recommend you contact her either prior to starting your course or during your first few weeks at the School to discuss any support requirements you may have. This may include support resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment, learning difficulties such as dyslexia or dyspraxia or mental health difficulties.
We recognise that everyone is an individual and we will work with students to identify potential barriers to training and do what we can to remove those barriers. We will also make any necessary reasonable adjustments, to ensure that disabled students can train at the School.
We are aware that nationally there is a very high proportion of students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) e.g. dyslexia or dyspraxia, in institutions which specialise in art, design or the performing arts. During your first week, the School encourages all students to take a short questionnaire known as QuickScan. It takes the form of an on-line, easy to navigate, questionnaire which will help to identify your learning style and specific areas of learning strengths and weaknesses. It is used in conjunction with other indicators, including student disclosure (as part of the interview and registration process), tutor feedback on practical and written work, and students expressing their concerns and any support requirements which may become apparent during their studies.
Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)
UK students with disabilities (including Specific Learning Difficulties and long-term Mental Health conditions) can apply for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). DSA usually provides support for students with the specialist equipment and tools necessary to support you with your studies, including software, hardware and study skills support. Unlike a student loan, DSA does not have to be repaid. However, it is rarely awarded in the form of financial support.
Applications are made through Student Finance England (SFE), Student Finance Wales (SFW), or Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). In order to apply for DSA, Student Finance will require evidence of any impairment or disability. This may take the form of a doctor’s or specialist’s letter or, more often, a report from an Educational Psychologist (Diagnostic Assessment Report).
If you require a Diagnostic Assessment from an Educational Psychologist, the Student Support Manager can arrange this for you and can guide you through the process.
Personal Academic Support
Various staff members at the School can help in different ways if you need academic support. If you need help with the content of classes or assessment work, you can ask the relevant head of course, tutor or your pastoral care tutor for an appointment or you can ask the Student Support Manager to arrange a tutorial with the relevant member of staff on your behalf. If you make an appointment, you can prepare for the meeting and discuss your concerns away from class. Heads of courses, modules leaders and individual tutors can all help you with understanding aspects of your training and can offer overall guidance or advice about your programme of study.
Study skills (including reading, note-taking and presentation skills)
Study skills support is usually arranged for students who have been awarded support through Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). However, the Student Support Manager will be happy to arrange one to one study skills support for you if deemed appropriate and necessary.
Mental Health, wellbeing and counselling
BOVTS recognises the challenges faced by students entering higher education and that training in a conservatoire institution can place great demands on a student both physically and emotionally.
The School has a student therapy and counselling service, which is organised and staffed by accredited, registered psychotherapists and counsellors and is there to help with any more deep-seated personal problems on which pastoral tutors are not qualified to advise. If students wish to have an initial assessment with a therapist or counsellor, they should contact the School’s Student Support Manager. A strict professional code of confidentiality is always maintained.
Student welfare and pastoral care
We actively encourage students to develop a pro-active and positive approach to their own ‘wellness’. We are preparing professionals to enter physically and mentally challenging professions and we work to enable students to sustain a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle.
Every student is assigned a pastoral tutor who monitors their progress throughout the year in addition to having access to the Student Support Manager. All students have tutorials with their head of course, head of year or allocated pastoral care tutor in which non-teaching issues can be discussed. A confidential tutorial can be requested of any member of the full-time teaching staff on your course.
In addition, BOVTS students have access to UWE’s Student Wellbeing Service, details of which can be found on UWE Bristol’s website.
For further information on support which the School offers, please see the Guide to Student Support.
You will be taught by an experienced Head of Course plus a teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team also includes visiting specialist professional directors.
Please note: the named teaching team is correct at the time of writing but may be subject to change.
You can learn more about our staff by visiting our staff profiles.
You will be assessed on coursework, including your signature script, practical assignments, a portfolio of other work and a short business plan.
Students are assessed on their professional practice on a pass or fail basis.
Judgements about students’ performance are made against the relevant industry standards.
The UWE qualifications are awarded as non-classified/non-differentiated.
MA Drama Writing
Duration: 3 Terms – 38 weeks (full-time)
Tuition fees for UK students on a 38 week (one year) course starting in September 2023 will be £11,700
Tuition fees for International (Non-UK) students on a 38 week (one year) course will be £26,000
(Full-time route only, subject to further increase in subsequent years in line with Government policy)
It is not possible to confirm fees for future academic years, as these are dependent on Teaching Excellence Framework outcomes, but the maximum increase in each year will not exceed the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Accommodation and living costs not included in the fees.
Increasingly much of the information and some of the content of the course is available via the School’s Virtual Learning Environment and so you will benefit from having access to your own personal computer and the internet to make the most of your course. It is estimated that a suitable personal computer will cost £300.00. See the Course Summary document for more details.
Info and advice regarding potential accommodation and living costs can be found in the General Student Information Handbook
Sources of financial support
Details on funding options can be obtained from our Student Fees home page available here.
Bursaries, scholarships and prizes
Please see the BOVTS Fees and Financial Support page for details of Bursaries and Scholarships.
The University also provides a number of scholarships and prizes for postgraduate students, which you may be eligible to apply for. There is also a Hardship Fund and bursaries offered by charitable trusts.
How to apply
All applications for degree courses at BOVTS are made directly to the School. Please note that the School no longer uses the UCAS system. Applications for 2023 entry will be open from September 2022.
You should submit your application before 28 February 2023. If you apply after 28 February, we can’t guarantee there will still be places on your course.
Applying as an international student and Visa requirements
The application process for international students is the same as it is for everyone else.
As well as meeting our course entry requirements, you may have to provide proof of your level of English. This is because you need to meet the Home Office required standards to get a Student Route Visa to enter the country for study.
You can find out about Student Route Visa from the UK Government.
Applying after a break in studying
The application process is the same as it is for everyone else. You will have the option within your personal statement to explain why you have chosen to return to study now and how you feel you will benefit.
We accept a variety of qualifications, including the Access to HE Diploma and Open University credits. View our course pages to find out about entry requirements for each course. If you are a mature student and you have any questions about our entry requirements or your qualifications email [email protected]
The School is committed to the promotion of equal opportunities for all. We consider each application on the basis of the applicant’s suitability for the proposed programme of study, at the same time acknowledging the statutory and professional requirements of some programmes. We are keen to encourage applicants from a wide range of academic and social backgrounds to take up the opportunity of studying at the School. We aim to create an environment that respects the diversity of students and enables them to derive maximum benefit and enjoyment from their involvement in the life of the School. To do this we will be proactive about ensuring people are treated fairly regardless of age, disability, race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
The Admissions Office deals with enquiries and applications for all degree courses.
Telephone: +44 (0)117 9733535
Email : [email protected]
Post: Admissions Office, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, 1-2 Downside Road, Bristol BS8 2XF, UK
We will only accept one application per applicant, per year. You cannot apply for more than one course. If you need further advice about choosing a course, please contact the Admissions Office.
It is expected that by the end of the course you will have developed a signature-script to be able to offer to producers, have a developed understanding of the demands of the different media (stage, screen, audio etc) and a sophisticated understanding of the industry.