Course Location
Sydney On-Campus
2018 Graduate Certificate Screen: Screenwriting
Postgraduate (AQF Level 8)
Delivery Mode
32 weeks / 2 semesters. Semester starts week commencing February 26, 2018
Course Fee
Compulsory on campus Orientation week commencing Monday February 19,2018. Further details will be provided post-enrolment.
Attendance Pattern
Two evenings per week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6.00 to 9.00pm, plus 8 Saturdays and 4 Sundays, 9.30 to 5.30pm, over the 32 weeks (see Indicative Timetable for more details)


Story is at the heart of creative and screen business practice. Invest in your Graduate Certificate to contribute to shaping our culture through storytelling.

Be inspired to create engaging stories for film and TV and develop the creative talent and analytical skills required by professional screenwriters and writer/directors.

In this practice-based course, you will deepen your understanding of cinematic storytelling principles through a mix of theory-based seminars and practical writing exercises. In addition to exploring the major dramatic theorists and analysing screenplays, you will enhance your creative abilities by writing dramatic scenes, conceiving memorable characters and participating in writers’ tables, where you will learn to give and receive critical feedback from your peers. By the end of the course, you will have written a first draft screenplay for a feature film, or a pilot screenplay for a TV series, and have acquired the skills to write across a variety of platforms.

An essential component of this course is cross-disciplinary collaboration. You will explore the different perspectives of cinematic storytelling and engage in collaborative exercises to build your network.


The Graduate Certificate Screen: Screenwriting is a part-time postgraduate course, which is delivered across two semesters, on evenings and/or weekends, at the AFTRS campus. The course is structured so that you can maintain your employment while you gain your qualification.


This course will appeal to:

  • emerging and intermediate screenwriters with a commitment to deepen and/or acquire the knowledge and skill-sets required of professional screenwriters:
  • people transitioning from other professions (authors, freelance writers, journalists, advertising writers, directors, actors, cinematographers, producers, lawyers): and
  • higher education graduates interested in screenwriting as a career.


You will complete a revised first-draft, long-form screenplay to present to potential creative and industry partners for further development. You will establish a rigorous professional working practice which allows you to identify viable screenplay concepts and prepares you for future collaborations.

AFTRS has a long and successful history of postgraduate study. It is consistently rated as one of the top 15 film schools in the world by industry publication The Hollywood Reporter, the only Australian education institution on this list. AFTRS works closely with industry to ensure its courses are relevant and future-focused. Our graduates are sought after by industry across the country and around the world and have won and been nominated for a slate of Academy, Golden Globe, Emmy, BAFTA and AACTA awards.


To complete the course you will need to purchase the following texts:

Aronson, L. (2010). 21st century screenplay. Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin
Yorke, J. (2015) Into the woods: A five-act journey into story. New York, NY: The Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers


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



Semester 1

Story 1 (60 hours) and Incubator 1 (30 hours)
These two subjects are delivered as evening sessions (approximately 2 nights per week 6-9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays) plus 2 Sundays on March 4 and April 8 2018

Collaborative Practice 1
4 Saturdays per semester from 9.30 to 5.30pm.
Currently scheduled on March 3, April 7, April 28 and May 26, 2018 from 9.30am to 5.30pm

Semester 2

Story 2 (30 hours) and Incubator 2 (60 hours)
These two subjects are delivered as 25 evening sessions (approximately 2 nights per week 6-9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays) plus 2 Sundays on July 22 and September 16 2018

Collaborative Practice 2
4 Saturdays per semester (dates to be confirmed) from 9.30am to 5.30pm.

Disclaimer: Please note this indicative timetable is subject to change.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Generate, develop, and write a distinctive and engaging screenplay to first draft.

  2. Demonstrate their understanding of dramatic storytelling principles through their ability to analyse a screenplay.

  3. Apply knowledge of dramatic theory to their own work.

  4. Create three-dimensional and engaging characters.

  5. Present their film or TV series projects in the manner expected of a professional screenwriter.

  6. Identify and critically evaluate their career pathway.

Access to AFTRS equipment and facilities is determined by the specific requirements of the course learning outcomes.

Admission Requirements

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

Candidates are required to submit the following:

1. Prerequisities

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 Personal Statement

What is your Australian story? We are looking for a sense of you as a unique individual and how your distinctive and significant experiences, background, values and/or views of the world and creative influences have shaped who you are and what you want to say as a storyteller (500 words - submit as PDF file).

2.2 A Dialogue Scene

Submit a dialogue scene between two people that reveals something about the two characters. Provide a one sentence description of each character. The scene is to be no longer than three pages, in screenwriting format ( submit as PDF file).

2.3 Idea for a Feature Film or Television Series

You will be writing the first draft of a screenplay throughout the course. Briefly describe one idea for a feature film script or television series. You can submit your idea in one of the following ways:
  • in written form of no more than 400 words (submit as PDF file); or

  • audio-visual form as a 1 min pitch to camera (submit as media file); or

  • an audio-only recorded pitch (submit as media file).

You’re not committed to this idea should your application be successful.

3. Creative Work (up to 15 pages, submit as PDF file)

Submit at least one writing sample that tells a story. Clearly outline your role on the work submitted. Your creative work should demonstrate your talent, potential and experience for this course. Be selective with your choices; we want your best work where you are the sole writer (submit as PDF file).

4. Uploading your Documents or Media File

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.

5. Resume and Educational Qualifications

Provide a 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.

6. Proof of 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:

  • Evidence of a creative point of view or voice.

  • Evidence of storytelling ability.

  • Ability to engage a reader.


Subject 1: Story 1

This subject introduces you to key dramatic storytelling principles. You will analyse screenplays and evaluate their potential to engage an audience on the basis of genre, concept, premise, character arc and structure.

Subject 2: Incubator 1

You will apply the principles of dramatic storytelling to create appropriate short documents (e.g. logline, beat sheet, outline) for a film or television project; evaluate, reflect upon and use constructive feedback received in writers’ table scenarios to develop and improve work; conceptualise and write an industry standard film treatment or television scene breakdown; and have the opportunity to pitch your project.

Subject 3: Collaborative Practice 1

Through a series of practical exercises you will examine cinematic storytelling and related practices through the lens of other disciplines; evaluate and reflect upon your own practice within screen arts; and apply your understanding of interdisciplinary collaborative work practices.

Subject 4: Story 2

Having investigated the pantheon of screenwriting theorists we will review key concepts from Semester 1 as you apply key dramatic principles to your own work in Incubator 2; evaluate, reflect on and use constructive feedback received in workshopping scenes with professional actors and look broadly at where the screenwriter fits in the industry and investigate common business trends and practices.

Subject 5: Incubator 2

The key focus of this subject is the writing of an engaging full length screen story either as a feature film or pilot for a TV series.

Subject 6: Collaborative Practice 2

Developing your work in Semester 1, you will continue to demonstrate your capacity to create relationships between content, form and audiences in this interdisciplinary context.


The Australian Film Television and Radio School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.