Online Master Degree in Comedy Writing

Online Masters Degree in Comedy Writing

MA Comedy Writing Course Overview

Hone your comedy writing skills, and develop a body of work which combines creativity, cultural relevance and industry awareness. Get match-fit for a career as a professional comedy writer.

Award Title: MA Comedy Writing
Awarding Body: Falmouth University
Level: 7
Mode of study: Online, part-time 
Duration: Two years

Masters degree summary

Do you want to push the boundaries of comedy writing to its limits? Are you on a mission to interrogate big ideas like sex, politics, religion and family through comedy? Or do you just want to write a show that’s unashamedly stupid? Whether your preferred comedy genre is sitcom, comedy drama or sketch shows, the world is in a state right now and we all need a laugh. And crucially, it’s your unique and hilarious interpretation of the world that’s required.

With the dramatic rise in subscription-based video content – think Amazon, Netflix and Apple - alongside a renaissance in audio comedy courtesy of podcasts – broadcast comedy is in huge demand. There are lots of opportunities right now and a great need for new comedy writers.

At Falmouth University, we want to equip new and emergent comedy writers with the skills, tools and industry-focus which will push their projects to the top of the commissioning editor's pile and see their scripts green-lit. This online MA has been developed by award-winning comedy producer and executive producer Simon Nicholls. Simon has 20 years' comedy industry experience, developing and selling comedies in the UK and US.

On this MA, you’ll study the work of renowned writers and directors, reflect on professional trends and learn how to seize market opportunities. You’ll develop a comedy scriptwriting portfolio which will act as a calling card with which to approach comedy producers, comedy commissioners and get agent representation. Who knows, you could see yourself on the way to the BAFTAs, Oscars or Golden Globes with the next Fleabag, VEEP, Modern Family or Father Ted.

You will:

  • Learn how to write comedy sketches, sitcoms, comedy dramas and develop a body of work for multiple platforms including; radio, TV, film and online.
  • Develop a comedy writing portfolio consisting of scripts, treatments, synopses and your responses to professional comedy briefs which can be used as a calling card to gain agent representation and to present to commissioning editors.
  • Structure your working practice as a comedy writer, plotting your day, dealing with writers’ block, working to tight deadlines while remaining funny.
  • Understand the role of a commissioner, the criteria by which they assess new writing and what it takes to get your project green-lit.

Who is this masters degree for?

You should be:

  • Passionate about comedy, creative writing, storytelling, stand-up, sit-coms, comedy dramas, sketches on TV, radio and online platforms
  • Funny, creative, open to new ideas, curious, ironic, ridiculous, mischievous, culturally aware and driven.

You may be:

  • A graduate looking to develop specialist knowledge in writing for comedy 
  • A comedy practitioner with experience of stand-up, theatre, radio, sketch shows who wants to develop a career in writing for comedy
  • A fledgling or emergent writer who wants to acquire the skills to adapt existing work for screen.

Course content

MA Comedy Writing

You will need to complete four 30-credit modules and one 60-credit project (180 credits in total). All modules on the course are compulsory and must be passed in order to complete the award.

*Please note: the order of modules may differ to that stated below. 

 
Core Modules Credits
Comic Storytelling for Screen & Audio  30
Screen Industries: Professional Development in Comedy 30
Individual Comedy Script Development 30
Comedy Writer's Room: Collaborative Script Development 30
Final Major Project 60

Module one - Comic Storytelling for Screen & Audio (30 credits)

We begin the course by asking fundamental questions such as, what is comedy? Why do we tell funny stories? How do we tell funny stories? In this module, you will develop your comedy writing skills - both sketch and long form narrative comedy - looking at comic timing and beats, construction of scenes, the role of setting and characterisation. You will complete a set of writing briefs which will become part of your final portfolio of work showcasing your comedy writing style, voice and ability to work to a brief.

Module two - Screen Industries: Professional Development in Comedy (30 credits)

In this module, you will identify a comedic area of interest. After undertaking research, you will produce a case study that evaluates current comedy industry markets and opportunities. In response to your findings, you will develop a robust pitch document incorporating core ideas, the writer’s vision, a short synopsis, description of genre, tone, setting, character and sample scenes. You will gain a range of technical writing and project development skills as you work to produce industry-standard comedy writing with real commercial and creative potential.

Module three - Individual Comedy Script Development (30 credits)

In this module, you will hone your ability to generate comedy script ideas. You will explore the art of combining comedy with drama, and sustaining a comic narrative and theme in a feature film, television or online/audio comedy series. You will learn to frame your practice within the professional comedy scriptwriting industries through analysing the work of renowned scriptwriters and directors and reflecting on professional trends, markets and opportunities.

Module four - Comedy Writers’ Room: Collaborative Script Development (30 credits)

This module is divided into two parts giving students the unique opportunity to work collaboratively on a professional TV comedy brief within a commercial setting. In the first ten weeks, working in Script Development Teams, you will develop a host of industry proposal documents. In the final two weeks, you will assume the roles of client/commissioner for each brief assessing the project proposal of the other team and deciding whether to ‘green-light’ each project.

Final Major Project (60 credits)

Your studies culminate in a major script development project for a platform/medium of your choosing. You will have the option to develop further work that you have produced on other modules or work on a completely new concept. You will begin by researching, proposing and pitching your project. You will receive formative feedback, and continue writing until you have produced a polished, industry-standard final draft.

Assessments

  • Written assignments (no examinations)
  • Combination of visual, verbal and written works, tailored specifically to each module.

How you study

You may choose to:

  1. Study entirely online.
  2. Study online and attend optional face to face events

You will be given the opportunity to attend up to two events per academic year and dates and location of the events will vary. Events usually incorporate a weekend to accommodate busy schedules. More information is available on the face to face events page.

 

Taught by industry experts

On this MA you will be taught by prolific and award-winning industry professionals passionate about nurturing new talent, and you will have access to their extensive network and experience producing high-profile comedy shows. 

Learn more about our MA Comedy Writing Tutors.

Learning activities

There will be guided learning activities consisting of:

  • Concise online presentations to introduce key concepts
  • Small group and class discussions and crits to facilitate interaction and dialogue
  • Online critiques to test assumptions, ideas and to receive feedback from peers and tutors
  • Individual and group tutorials throughout the course
  • Independent study
  • Self-evaluation and peer feedback

Support

As a Falmouth student, you enjoy an equal status to students studying on campus:

  • Your own student ID card
  • Access to online software tutorials at lynda.com
  • 24/7 online access to library resources
  • Students’ Union community
  • Access to our Student Support Services offering academic and personal support.

Entry requirements

You will need:

  • An honours degree or Level 6 equivalent qualification
  • To submit up to five pages of a script for either radio, TV or film. It's your choice, but it must be a comedy script, not any other genre, that best shows off your comedy writing. Please also submit a 300-word piece of writing considering an old sitcom, which is no longer running. The piece of writing should clearly tell us why you've picked this show for reinvention now. Please describe how you'll modernise and reinvent the show to be a relevant must-watch for today's audience. You should give consideration as to who will star in this production, and your vision for the show.
  • Proof of proficiency in English (minimum overall score of IELTS 6.5 with at least 6.0 in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening or TOEFL IBT (Internet Based Test) with a minimum of 88 overall and at least 21 in all 4 components).

We also accept a range of equivalent recognised English language qualifications. Candidates without a degree or formal qualification are still encouraged to apply. For more information regarding equivalent international qualifications and Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) please call us on +44 (0)1223 447713 or view our handy article:

GUIDE TO APL

Additional costs

In order to participate fully in the course, you will need to purchase screenwriting software.

There are a variety of options available - please call our course advisor team on +44 (0)1223 447713 for advice on what to buy. 

How to apply

  • Submit an online application form.
  • Submit a copy of your first degree certificate or Level 6 equivalent qualification and your IELTS/TOEFL certificate if English is not your first language

Please contact us on +44 (0)1223 447713 for free advice from our friendly and knowledgeable course advisors.

Start dates and application deadlines

2019/20 
Intake Application deadline Welcome week Course start date
May 2020 17 May 25 May 1 June 

News and Events

View our latest news and upcoming events here.