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MA Playwriting

Course convenor: Will ShulerChekhov-in-Hell

This course is for aspiring playwrights, dramaturgs, and those – teachers, directors, actors and more – who want to gain an intensive, practical understanding of playwriting from the inside.

Whatever stage you’re at in your writing life, the MA Playwriting has something to offer you:

  • If you’re just starting out and want to develop your first substantial play.
  • If you’re more experienced and want to reflect on the skills you’ve acquired and learn some new techniques.
  • If you’re simply curious about your own creativity and want to find out more about playwriting.

The course will allow you to explore your own voices and style while also examining conventions that have been used – and broken – in the creation of structure, metaphor, character, scene, dialogue, image and action. What we encourage you to be is ambitious and imaginative in your writing.

Who you’ll learn from

Writers learn best from writers. In 2016-17, the course will be taught by the multi-award winning playwright Tanika Gupta MBE (whose most recent plays include The Empress (RSC) and an adaptation of Meera Syal’s Anita and Me (Birmingham Rep)). In previous years, visiting speakers have included Simon Stephens, Moira Buffini, Mark Ravenhill, Laura Wade, David Edgar, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Tim Crouch, April de Angelis, Dennis Kelly, Mike Bartlett, Roy Williams, Anya Reiss, Philip Ridley, Chris Goode, Andy Field, Rona Munro, David Eldridge and David Greig.

One of the greatest assets to the course is London. Throughout the course, you’re urged to make use of perhaps the greatest city in the world for theatre and immerse yourself in Britain’s unrivalled new writing culture.


Playwriting (80 credits)

In the first half of this course, you’ll learn the craft skills of playwriting, experience different approaches to structure, scenes, dialogue, character, subtext, plot and action.

In the second half, you’ll present a draft of your own play to be read and discussed by your tutor and fellow students.


Making performance (40 credits)


In this course students will encounter a range of different working practices through a series of practical workshops with leading contemporary theatre makers and performance artists. These workshops will provide students with insight into a variety of performance making processes and consider the discourse, both political and aesthetic, that underpins these working methodologies. Alongside the practical workshops and devising small group projects, students will be expected to pursue independent research into a chosen field offered within the module. The aim is to support rigorous critical writing of sufficient length and substance to allow thoughtful and thought provoking response to the practices encountered.


Dissertation (60 credits)

This is where you get to write your full-length play. Closely supervised by a member of the course team in one-to-one meetings you’ll develop your play over the course of the year, building to a reading with a professional director and actors. You accompany your play with a substantial essay, which explores the form of theatre in which you’re working.



Structure and assessment details

Full-time course structure and assessment

Autumn term

DT5100 Playwriting

DT5210 Dissertation

DT5203 Making Performance


Spring term

DT5100 Playwriting

DT5203 Making Performance


Summer term

DT5100 Playwriting

Students will also be working on their dissertations throughout Spring and Summer Terms.


Part-time course structure and assessment

Year 1

DT5100 Playwriting (80 credits)

Year 2

DT5210 Dissertation (60 credits)

DT5203 Making Performance (40 credits)

For any further details on the MA Playwriting programme, please feel free to contact the course convenor Will Shuler

50 weeks full-time; 102 weeks part-time.

We welcome postgraduate applications from candidates who have a 2:1 or above first degree (this does not have to be in Drama) and who can demonstrate strong interest in/experience of making and analysing theatre. We welcome applications from candidates from non-traditional backgrounds. 

Please visit our funding pages for further information on the funding available for taught postgraduate students.

If you are interested in applying, please visit our Admissions page where you can find general information on the application process and access the online application form.

Applications should be submitted by 31 July.

Please submit the following supporting information when you make your application:

  • two samples of written work in English, an original piece of playwriting (at least six pages) and either an academic essay or two analyses of recent professional theatre productions that demonstrate how meaning is created in performance and are not merely a description of the show (approximately 2,000 words each);
  • a copy of the degree certificate / transcript from your undergraduate degree (this can be a transcript of your progress so far if you have not yet completed it);
  • a copy of your English language qualification (if English is not your first language) - if you have not completed an IELTS or recognised test yet, you can submit your application without it and then forward your results once they are available;
  • a supporting statement, explaining your motivation for studying your chosen programme;
  • one academic reference - your referee can upload this directly to the online system or email it to the Postgraduate Administrator (ally.williams@rhul.ac.uk);
  • and copies of any other qualifications that are relevant to your chosen programme.

Please note that we will not be able to consider applications until we have received the writing samples.

We may invite suitable applicants for an interview, either in person or via Skype.


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