Master of Creative Writing for Scriptwriters

Explore the Master of Creative Writing for Scriptwriters.

Available onsite or via distance learning, the Master of Creative Writing (MCW) for Scriptwriters is for writers who are serious about a career in film, TV, web-series, and theatre.

A script developed on this course has been shortlisted for the 2018 Sundance Writers Lab in the USA - the world’s most prestigious script workshop.

Another student, who had never written a script before, had hers selected as one of ten nationwide for the first Women Filmmakers Incubator pitching event - run by the NZ Writers Guild and DEGNZ in 2017.

We are serious we are about developing scriptwriters!

Kickstarting your career

Where other programmes limit you to a first draft, we take you from idea to a second draft script - ready to present to production companies, or assemble your own production team.

It’s a one-year professional training course made up of workshops in which we workshop your writing, plus one-on-one coaching, advice on industry practice, and writing – lots of writing.

The class size is small and interactive, to keep the focus on your writing.

Script and industry mentor Andrew Bancroft will help you identify all the options available to you as your script progresses, and will push you to your creative limits. Andrew brings a wide range of experience. He has won major national and international awards as a writer & director, and has also worked as a producer, an executive producer for the NZ Film Commission, and a script developer in Australasia working with writers for stage & screen.

Who is our course for?

  • Writers with ambition
  • Everyone who has a story in their head and wants to give it a serious chance of getting onto the page - and then in front of an audience – whether that’s an original script, an adaptation, or a commissioned project
  • Filmmakers who have made short films and are keen to develop their first feature-length screenplay
  • Writers who want to know what actors, directors, producers and funding bodies look for in a script (and know it’s more than clever dialogue and out-there characters)
  • Writers who realise you can’t master a craft like this in a weekend workshop
  • Writers experienced in a different format who want to acquire new skills
  • Actors wanting to write their own material for the stage or screen

As they do overseas, novelists and prose-writers take a scriptwriting course because of the focus on STORY – meaning, the powerful narrative structure which audiences expect.

Scriptwriting is a serious business – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. We pride ourselves on creating an enjoyable and encouraging environment in which you are free to make mistakes and learn from each other. Writers come from around the world for this course, helped by the fact that New Zealand is such an easy place to live.

What makes our course unique

You start writing on day one.

Unlike other courses in Australasia which take you only to a first draft, we take you to a minimum of second draft. Stage & screen industries expect to see a second or third draft at the earliest, not a first. That’s why an essential skill in scriptwriting is development – understanding how and why you transform one draft into the next.

We don’t just sit around and chat. We offer you workshops during the year, in which your work is read out and comes to life, interspersed with one-to-one feedback sessions, revision exercises tailored to the needs of your story, and seminars on contemporary techniques. The aim is to equip you with the objectivity and insight to take your vision to the next level.

Our focus on STORY

We offer a professional training course and we want to develop projects that get made. Yet we don't teach you what to write, because you have your own voice as a writer. Instead, our aim is to help you figure out how your vision can reach a wide audience… And how your script can stand out in a sea of competition.

We do that by illuminating what audiences, directors, actor, producers and financiers look for in a script: a strong STORY.

This means a unique writer’s vision which provides an emotional experience, a well-crafted narrative structure, great characters, great roles for actors, and a reason for a lot of people to come together in one place, to look and listen. In short: dramatic writing.

Dramatic writing has evolved over thousands of years – from ancient Greek theatre to what is watched daily on computers, giant cinema screens, TVs and smartphones. And it all begins with a writer, dreaming.

By mastering the core skills of dramatic writing, you can develop stories that are visionary in form or theme, whether they are humanistic stories about real experience, or self-aware genre stories that advance their genre.

Dramatic writing is the DNA shared by movies, stage plays, TV series, web-series, and emerging online platforms. We aim to equip you with the core skills for whichever medium you choose.

This requires a carefully designed course which takes you through the core skills step by step.

That’s why we offer not only workshops of your writing, and one-on-one feedback sessions, and lectures on a current industry practice - we also take you through a sequence of collaborative & solo exercises designed to progressively upskill you for each stage of your script.

We just teach craft – it’s you who bring the imagination. And you’re in good company. The course takes place in the Centre for Creative Writing, a community of scriptwriters, novelists, poets and creators of New Media.

What you can expect

It’s like a year-long Writer’s Lab.

Sessions run from March to November.

Workshops of your own writing can run from several hours to a full day. One-to-one coaching sessions are conducted in person or via skype. In between, there are blocks of time put aside for you to complete a new draft. Seminars for the whole class occur throughout the year, on such topics as:

  • How do you find the heart of your character’s journey?
  • What makes a great genre story?
  • Are there different approaches to creating male and female characters?
  • How does a script get into production?

Distance Learning

If you live outside of Auckland, you have the option of ‘distance learning’.

As the stage and screen industries are very much a team operation, the workshops and seminars involve a lot of group interaction & activities. So for distance learning, it depends where you are and how you can be in contact.

For example, if you can come in person for the block of workshops at the start of the year, and/or the blocks of script workshops at a couple of points during the year, then you can do the rest of the classes online. Exercises and discussions, in which you work with other students, can also be either online or in person.

Alternatively if you are too far away to enable that, then you can do everything online.

One important note is – you are required to be present at ALL classes, whether online or in person. This is not a course where you can come and go, as group participation is a key strategy. We want everyone to feel included, and at the same time expect everyone to contribute.

Classes take place between 9am - 6pm NZ time.


Aim to get applications in as soon as possible as places are limited. Officially this is a post-graduate Master’s programme, so you need to have an undergraduate degree. If you do not have a degree, but have a body of work like writing (published or not published) or have participated in film, theatre, TV, web or visual projects, then you need to apply under “Exceptional Circumstances”

All applicants need to supply a Portfolio with your application:


The basic portfolio submission requirement is:

For Regular entry:

  1. 20 pages of script (or you can assemble 20 pages from different scripts; or it could include prose, etc, if that relates to the script you propose to write while on the course)
  2. A one page summary of your ‘research proposal’ which basically means an outline of the script you intend to write (though you can change this before the course actually starts if you want)

For Special Entry and Exceptional Circumstances:

  1. 20 pages of script (or you can assemble 20 pages from different scripts; or it could include prose, etc, if that relates to the script you propose to write while on the course)
  2. A one page summary of your ‘research proposal’ which basically means an outline of the script you intend to write (though you can change this before the course actually starts if you want)
  3. a CV which should list by date (from the most recent) any and all professional experience you have that could possibly count towards the application (include courses, workshops, university or higher education papers, any creative arts/industry work experience - doesn’t have to be writing for the screen - and a list of written work you have produced. This does not have to have been published or developed commercially - it's more to support the case that you have been involved in relevant creative practice.

Application deadlines

Applications are judged on merit. The course has limited places and enrolment will close when the course is full.


For more information on the course, contact Andrew Bancroft:

To begin the application process, contact Helen Xue, Programme Administrator, School of Language and Culture:


The cost for domestic students in 2017 is $8211 incl GST. The Centre for Creative Writing offers one scholarship per annum covering tuition fees – for more information and the application process see here. The course is eligible for student loans - contact Studylink about loans applications. International students are asked to contact the Programme Administrator for assistance (see below).

Last updated: 12-Oct-2017 8.09am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.