The Poetry of Events - Building a Plot (EASM121)

StaffDr Sam North - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of the module is to introduce students to techniques of popular story-telling as they may be encountered primarily in cinema and television screenplays but also in other dramatic media, and to provide the theoretical background necessary for students to devise, write and present compelling storylines. Students will need to acquire a thorough understanding of how storylines work - because they are the meat and drink of the film/television industries as well as of theatre and radio - if they are to succeed in finding work after they graduate. This module aims to provide students with the skills not only to invent and produce storylines, but also to analyse plots effectively and communicate their ideas in a professional manner.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an advanced ability to invent and orchestrate plots that are dramatically effective and will capture a large audience.
  • 2. Demonstrate an advanced critical understanding of different genres and how they work to enchant the hearts and minds of an audience.
  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced capacity to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical stratagems which will lead ultimately to effective self-criticism and the ability to engineer effective plotting

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature appreciation of formal techniques and imaginative expression in creative writing
  • 5. Analyse and critically examine, at an advanced level, diverse forms of film and writing
  • 6. Present sustained and persuasive written and oral arguments concerning their own creative writing and the work of other authors, both peers and published authors, and to use such ideas relating to their own work to develop their creative ideas
  • 7. Demonstrate an advanced and autonomous understanding of a variety of theoretical positions in the appropriate critical and professional terminology
  • 8. Demonstrate an ability to independently originate creative ideas and to respond positively to appropriate criticism of their work
  • 9. Demonstrate a consistent ability to create imaginative written work in a variety of forms appropriate to genres/styles covered by the module
  • 10. Demonstrate sustainable tactics to deal with personal experience, observed reality, documentation and archival records of the experience of others

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 11. Seminar work, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 12. Through writing essays and creative work, demonstrate advanced critical, research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, advanced skills of creative expression, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 13. Through research, seminar work and writing of creative pieces, demonstrate an awareness of the audience, the commercial realities of the market, and an understanding of the purpose of formal structures, layouts, and techniques.

Syllabus plan

Weeks 1-4– ‘The Map Of Desire’ ( with reference to Capote, Wings of Desire, The Shawshank Redemption, Little Miss Sunshine, Waiting For Godot, The White Ribbon and Pobby and Dingan).

Weeks 5, 7, 8– ‘Genre, Stirring the Witch’s Cauldron’ (with reference to: Fargo, The Green Mile, Borat)..

Weeks 9, 10: ‘Dramatic DNA’ (with reference to Glengarry Glenross,There Will Be Blood).

Week 11, 12; ‘The Line in The Sand’ (with reference to Leon and To Kill A Mockingbird).

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities20seminars
Guided independent100seminar preparation (independant)
Guided independent180reading, research and essay preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Plot Treatment 755000 words1-3, 4, 8-10Feedback sheet with opportunity tutorial follow-up
Critical Essay 252000 words6-7, 11-13 Feedback sheet with opportunity tutorial follow-up. Cohort feedback via seminars

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Plot Treatment Plot Treatment1-3, 4, 8-10Referral/deferral period
Critical EssayCritical Essay6-7, 11-13Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading
Kevin Conroy-Scott, Screenwriters’ Masterclass (Faber and Faber, 2005)

David Mamet, Three Uses Of The Knife… (Methuen Drama, April 2007)

Syd Field, Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, (Delta, 2005)

Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting (Methuen, 1999)

Christopher Vogler, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, (Pan Books, 1999)

Lajos Egri, The Art of Dramatic Writing (Simon & Schuster, 1946)

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Princetown University Press, second ed, 1968

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date

October 2011

Key words search

Creative writing; narrative; screenwriting