Key details
Award title
MA Comedy Writing (also available as PGDip)
Awarding body
Falmouth University
Level
7
Duration
2 years
Mode of study
Online, part-time
Total MA course fee
£10,900
3 start dates a year
January, May and September
Next start date
25 January 2021
Welcome week
16 January 2021
Application deadline
11 January 2021

Introduction

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.
  • Be taught by a host of comedy experts including multi-award-winning TV and Radio comedy producer and Executive Producer, Simon Nicholls who is the course module leader.
  • 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 course 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.

Entry requirements

You will need:

An honours degree or Level 6 equivalent qualification.

If your first language is not English, 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).

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.

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 guide:

APL guide

Course details

Course structure

MA

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.

Module one

Comic Storytelling for Screen and 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 (MA only)

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.

Comic Storytelling for Screen and 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.

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.

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.

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.

How you'll learn

With Falmouth Flexible, you access your course content, interactions with other students and tutors, and learning resources, through Canvas, an easy-to-use online platform.  

You can access the course wherever you are in the world, and you can stop, pause and rewind lectures whenever you want. 

 

Learning activities 

Engaging learning activities will help you apply theory to practice. They could include: 

  • 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. 

 

Assessments

All assessments are taken and submitted online.

Assessment methods for the MA Comedy Writing can typically include:

• Written assignments (no examinations)

Combination of visual, verbal and written works, tailored specifically to each module.

 

Student support

Throughout your studies, you’ll be supported by a student advisor. Their job is to answer any non-academic queries you may have, and they can be contacted via email, phone, text or WhatsApp.  

They can show you around the online learning platform, guide you through enrolment, and give advice on managing your work/life balance.  

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. 

Teaching team

 

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. 

With this MA I’m keen that students develop their skills to write great comedy and learn how to market themselves to secure an agent and make a long-lasting career out of comedy writing. The aim of this course is to sharpen comedy writing skills AND teach writers professional street smarts – so your great script actually sells.” 

Simon Nicholls, Award-winning producer and Module Leader for the MA Comedy Writing

Falmouth Flexible Graduation 

Complete your MA with us and you'll be invited to receive your degree certificate in person, at Falmouth University.

Find out how you can celebrate your achievement: 

More about graduation

 

banner-comedy-writing

Face-to-face events

Up to twice a year, you’ll have the optional opportunity to meet your classmates and tutors in person. Dates and location of the events will vary. Events usually incorporate a weekend to accommodate busy schedules.  

Events are devised by Falmouth Flexible’s academic team to allow exploration of topics related to your course content and offer a wider industry context for your learning.  

They are an exciting opportunity to engage in practical activities and discussions and to hear from academics and industry experts. The aim is to complement your online learning, help you to develop your personal skills and gain further insight into your chosen industry. 

Find out more about face-to-face events on our student experience page.

 

How to apply

 

Before you apply 

Before you submit your application, please contact one of our course advisors so they can guide you through the process and ensure you submit the best application possible for entry into the course. 

Call us on  +44 (0)1223 447713.

 

Application steps 

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

Late applications may be considered if places are available. 

For free advice, please contact our friendly and knowledgeable course advisors on +44 (0)1223 447713.


 

Fees, costs & funding

Fees

Total course fee

£10,900 (including £250 acceptance fee)

 

Payment options  

  • One-off payment 
  • Six equal instalments spread over a two-year period 

 

Payment methods  

Payments can be made online or by phone, using a credit or debit card, or by bank transfer. 

 

Please visit our fees and funding page for more information or call us on +44 (0)1223 447713 to speak to a course advisor.

 

Additional costs

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.

Funding options

Application offers

We offer a range of bursaries, early application offers, and alumni discounts.

Loans

You may be eligible for funding from the UK Government.

 

Please visit our fees and funding page for more information or call us on +44 (0)1223 447713 to speak to a course advisor.

 

Total course fee

£10,900 (including £250 acceptance fee)

 

Payment options  

  • One-off payment 
  • Six equal instalments spread over a two-year period 

 

Payment methods  

Payments can be made online or by phone, using a credit or debit card, or by bank transfer. 

 

Please visit our fees and funding page for more information or call us on +44 (0)1223 447713 to speak to a course advisor.

 

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.

Application offers

We offer a range of bursaries, early application offers, and alumni discounts.

Loans

You may be eligible for funding from the UK Government.

 

Please visit our fees and funding page for more information or call us on +44 (0)1223 447713 to speak to a course advisor.

 

Why this course?

Reasons to study an MA Comedy Writing with Falmouth  

Hear from Module Leader Simon Nicholls on why you should do this course in our short video.

Comedy Writing snippet - why do the course-2

 

floating-div-falmouth
Contact us

If you have any questions about the programme, our experienced course advisors are here to help.

You can call our friendly and knowledgeable team on +44 1223 447713. 

Comedy Writing resources