Scriptwriting Distance Education Australia Coursework


Do you aspire to be part of the next wave of Australian screenwriters? Are you seeking to emerge as an authentic and versatile storyteller who is able to have a distinctive a voice in the rapidly evolving media landscape?

In this course you will explore screenwriting through practice-based learning across a variety of screen platforms. You will develop industry knowledge, craft skills and peer networks, all of which are vital resources in the development of a sustainable career path in the screen industries.


The MA Screen: Screenwriting is designed to equip the next generation of great Australian screen storytellers with the skills and knowledge they need to forge a sustainable career.

Through craft-based writing workshops integrated with collaborative, cross-disciplinary exercises, you will hone the complex skill set demanded of screenwriters at the highest industry level. You will be challenged to identify and refine your unique voice as a writer and consider how this perspective is situated in a cultural context.

You will participate in an intensive, ongoing peer feedback incubator that allows you to develop a major creative work, culminating in a developed screenplay (or set of screenplays) that showcases your creative vision and understanding of screenwriting craft. Industry practitioners will contribute to the coursework program, providing insights into their practice. In small, cross-disciplinary groups, you will collaborate with your peers to develop an adaptable, creative skill-set and a shared vocabulary of cinematic storytelling.

In your second year, you will complete a major screen work to a professional standard, testing the realisation of your creative intentions. You will learn to document and analyse your process through research workshops leading to a four-week professional placement at the end of your degree.

By the end of the course, you will have the ability to generate work that is audience focussed, innovative and distinctive whether writing to a brief or conceiving, developing and writing original material.


For over 40 years, AFTRS has consistently produced screenwriting graduates who have enjoyed critical and commercial success internationally.This could be you. AFTRS Screenwriting graduates play an integral role in shaping the nature of Australian screen culture through successful internships and story development programs. A number of our graduates now hold executive positions at major production companies. And each year the screenwriting credits of Australian feature films, television and other screen media are testament to the impact of the AFTRS program. You will be given the opportunity to familiarise yourself with these networks and to contribute to the canon of Australian screen culture.


The Master of Arts Screen is a hands-on transformative learning experience. The two year, full-time degree is designed to enable the future creative leaders of the industry and fast-track screen professionals into head of department positions.

Our rapidly changing, globalised screen industry demands that graduates can combine excellence in craft skills with a deep understanding of their voice. This course, available in 10 disciplines, offers shared subjects, deep discipline learning and cross-disciplinary projects to allow you develop this dynamic and multi-faceted skill-set. An ongoing cycle of practical collaborations enables you to hone your skills, apply creative thinking to real-world scenarios and develop life-long partnerships. The course culminates in a funded, major creative work.

The MA Screen is a unique program of professional development, training and mentorship.

Key features include:

  • taught by the Heads of Discipline, award winning Australian practitioners
  • industry-led collaborative exercises
  • facilities and funds to develop a portfolio of high level work
  • one-to-one mentorships with screen leaders
  • masterclasses with award-winning international guest speakers
  • unrivalled world-class production facilities
  • four week professional placement tailored to your goals
  • dedicated Masters collaborative working space
  • small class size - maximum of 6 places per discipline
  • three days face-to-face teaching with two days free to pursue individual projects or work
  • scholarships available
  • FEE-HELP approved


For details of help to pay for your fees, please refer to the Study Assist website.

Contact our Student Centre or call 1300 131 461 or (02) 9805 6444 with any questions or to learn more about your study options. You can also contact the Indigenous Unit.

Changes in circumstances may impact upon the accuracy or currency of information. While AFTRS takes all due care to ensure that the information is accurate, it reserves the right to vary any information described here without notice.

Last updated October 16, 2017

Course Outcomes

By the end of this program, students should be able to:
  1. Demonstrate and apply advanced knowledge of theory and practice as a professional and creative leader in their discipline.

  2. Critically evaluate and apply a deep understanding of cinematic storytelling to create audience-engaged work for the screen.

  3. Justify and implement a reflective creative practice that synthesises specialist knowledge, research and an understanding of personal process.

  4. Apply an adaptable skill set.

  5. Demonstrate an ability to lead, inspire and collaborate across diverse projects with a confidence in their creative voice and core value.

Application Tasks

Places in this course are competitive and are based on merit selection.

Candidates are required to submit the following:

1. Prerequisites

Applicants to postgraduate programs are required to hold a relevant undergraduate degree at bachelor level, or to have completed equivalent work experience and/or training.

The typical duration of a bachelor degree is 3-4 years, and candidates applying by degree equivalence are required to demonstrate they have achieved corresponding learning outcomes by completing a similar volume of relevant work experience and/or training. If you wish to apply for admission to a postgraduate program by degree equivalence, please contact the Student Centre.

2. Application Tasks

2.1 Two Original One-Page Ideas

Submit two original one page ideas that are representative of the screen projects you would like to work on during your time in the course.

Each idea should be accompanied by a short rationale/explanation (maximum 100 words each - submit as PDF file) about your motivation in pursuing the idea:

Why these ideas? Why you? Why now?

2.2 Multiplatform Concept Document

Generate an idea for a short-form online series that encompasses a universal concept and innovative storytelling techniques to capture the interest of multiplatform producers. The concept document should not exceed 750 words (submit as PDF file).

3. Audio-Visual Creative Statement

Make a 2 minute audio-visual work that presents who you are.

How do you express your ideas? What stories do you want to tell and why? How do you collaborate with other creative practitioners?

There is no set form here, you can record a piece to camera or make a work that expresses these ideas (submit as media file).

4. Creative Work

Your creative submission should demonstrate your best work. Be selective with your choices. We would like to see a maximum of three creative work samples, with two samples being specifically in screenwriting, not exceeding a total page count of 30 pages (submit as PDF file).

5. Uploading your Documents and Media Files

You will be able to upload your written documents and media file/s as part of the application process. Ensure you conform to the required file type and size specified as follows:

  • Written documents can be uploaded to the application portal and have a maximum of 10MB in size;
  • Media files under 50MB can be uploaded to the application portal;

When you are uploading your application in the AFTRS portal you will be able to upload PDF documents and some media files directly into the portal. Any media files larger than 50MB must be uploaded as follows:

  • Creative work must be uploaded to a dedicated, secure AFTRS Dropbox folder online. A hyperlink will be provided to you in an email when you complete the online application process.
  • Once you have uploaded your creative work to the Dropbox folder it will automatically be transferred into our database leaving the Dropbox empty. Do not upload the files again. Student Centre staff check all applications and will contact you if there are any files missing.

Go to this link if you need information on how to compress a media file.

6. Resume and Educational Qualifications

Provide a one-page list of your achievements, educational qualifications and work experience.

You must also provide a certified copy​ of your highest education level as detailed on the How and When to Apply​ page on the AFTRS website. Use the link provided for information on how to certify documents.

7. Proof of Citizenship/Residency

Ensure you submit a certified copy​ of your birth certificate or passport as detailed on the How and When to Apply​ page on the AFTRS website. Use the link provided for information on how to certify documents.

Selection Criteria

Places in this course are competitive and are based on merit selection. The selection criteria are:

  • Demonstrated experience or skills relevant to discipline.

  • A distinct creative perspective.

  • A proven capacity for leadership and collaboration.

  • A willingness and capacity to engage in critical thinking, reflection and research.


This program is delivered over four semesters. Semesters 1 and 2 have four subjects. Each semester is designed to lead you through a complete cycle of the creative process:

Semester 1 - Testing
Semester 2 - Developing
Semester 3 - Realising
Semester 4 - Reflecting

In Semester 1 and 2, you divide your time equally between specialist subjects and two shared subjects: Research and Development and Cinematic Storytelling. Research and Development challenges you to interrogate who you are as a practitioner, the creative choices you make and how these choices sit in a wider cultural context. You will develop and articulate a practice-based area of creative enquiry that will drive and focus your produced work over the MAS. In Cinematic Storytelling, you will hone your mastery of cinematic language, critically evaluating cinematic story ideas and techniques through seminars, screenings and practical exercises.

In Semester 3, you will bring together your course learning in Final Project. In making a single or collaborative work, you will address and explore your area of creative enquiry and synthesise your knowledge of cinematic storytelling and specialist craft skills. You will also refine your skill-set in collaboration, creative leadership, problem-solving and entrepreneurialism.

In Semester 4, you will participate in Reflection and Professional Practice. Reflection supports you to evaluate and present your course experience and new knowledge. In Professional Practice, you look outwards to industry, evaluating the adaptability of your skill-set in contemporary and emerging media landscapes.

The course concludes with you participating in a four-week industry attachment in your discipline.

The following subjects will be offered in the course:

Semester 1
1. Cinematic Storytelling A
2. Research and Development A
3. Discipline Specific - Practice A
4. Discipline Specific - Theory A

Semester 2
5. Cinematic Storytelling B
6. Research & Development B
7. Discipline Specific - Practice B
9. Discipline Specific - Theory B

Semester 3
10 Final Project

Semester 4
11. Professional Practice
12. Reflection

Learning Designer

David has been an educator for over twenty years, in a range of roles from writing and performing primary school theatre-in-education and teaching secondary school English, to designing and delivering post-graduate and senior executive education programs. Prior to joining Graduate Online - Melbourne as a Learning Designer, David was Curriculum Designer with the Centre for Workplace Leadership, at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Business and Economics, where he designed the Future of Work undergraduate breadth subject. He also acted as Course Development Coordinator for the online Professional Certificate of Workplace Leadership through Graduate Online - Melbourne.

David is passionate about the power of creativity, story, technology and play in education. For six years he was a scriptwriter, presenter and producer with the Victorian Department of Education’s ATOM award-winning schools-television programs, STEPS and ScienceTrek. Later, as a project developer with a Melbourne based multimedia company, he designed complex interactive digital-media installations for leading zoos, galleries and museums around the world. More recently, David was the Learning and Innovation Lead at the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, creating and facilitating online, face-to-face and blended learning programs. He is currently completing a Master of Education at MGSE.

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