Postgraduate study

Playwriting MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Playwriting

The programme is incredibly comprehensive and gives you all the tools you need to actually write. The hands on approach is amazing. I got my dissertation play developed at a theatre in Washington DC and my writing samples have gotten me in front of some pretty important people - executive producers at Netflix, Viacom, and ABC. I now have a scriptwriting job for YouTube company Wisecrack - my videos have over 15 million views.

Thomas Ambrosini, scriptwriter for Wisecrack and script reader MSc in Playwriting, 2015

Led by award-winning playwright, director and dramaturge Nicola McCartney, our MSc in Playwriting offers a high level of contact with the theatre industry. It will appeal to emerging playwrights, directors, dramaturges, performance artists and critics.

The programme focuses not only on the craft of writing for performance, but also on how a script plays out in real space and time, and in front of an audience.

You will be taught through a dynamic combination of seminars, workshops, one-to-one supervision and professional masterclasses by some of Europe’s leading playwrights and theatre artists.

Previous collaborators include world famous and award-winning practitioners such as:

  • Cora Bissett
  • Sir Michael Boyd
  • Gregory Burke
  • Kai Fischer
  • Tanika Gupta
  • Philip Howard
  • Rosie Kellagher
  • Lucy Kirkwood
  • Matthew Lenton
  • Linda McLean
  • Orla O'Loughlin
  • Adura Onashile
  • Robin Soanes
  • John Tiffany

A core component of the degree is a series of workshops, facilitated by Playwrights' Studio Scotland, to develop your own work with professional actors and directors.

Why Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a theatre city, home to the world’s largest theatre festival and a lively, thriving and diverse year-round theatre scene.

As a student on the Playwriting MSc programme, you will benefit from established links with leading theatres and organisations, including:

  • Traverse Theatre (Scotland’s new writing theatre)
  • the Royal Lyceum (one of the UK’s leading repertory theatres)
  • Playwrights' Studio Scotland

The University of Edinburgh has a long and rich tradition of student drama. Based in Bedlam Theatre, the oldest student-run theatre in the UK, the Edinburgh University Theatre Company has helped to develop an array of outstanding theatrical talent over the years, with alumni making reputations and careers in professional theatre.

By the end of the programme, you will have written at least two short works and one full-length piece for live performance.

Over the programme’s duration, you will take two 40-credit core courses on ‘The Craft of the Playwright’, and two 20-credit option courses chosen from a wide range of subjects.

Typical courses available as options include:

  • Time and Space of Performance
  • Theatre, Performance, Performativity
  • Tragedy and Modernity
  • Political Shakespeare
  • Theories of Intermediality

You will be assessed through a combination of portfolio work, essays and your final dissertation - a 100 minute, full-length play (worth 60 credits). This will be written with the advice and support of the Programme Director, and developed through workshops with a professional director and actors.

Students who successfully complete this programme will:

  • be introduced to and become skilled in a range of applied methods for the development and structuring of dramatic script for live performance
  • develop a knowledge and understanding of writing for different kinds of performance contexts from the single-authored play to devised work
  • develop a knowledge and understanding of the theory, methodology and practice of writing different genres from tragedy and comedy to political theatre
  • develop self-motivation and the focus necessary to work as an independent artist within the theatre industry
  • develop their critical skills as readers of their own and others’ work and as creators and consumers of live performance
  • develop a familiarity with the professional development and production processes of live performance and how these impact on the making of script

Offering a high level of contact with the theatre industry, our MSc in Playwriting is an immersive introduction to the theatre scene in Edinburgh, Scotland and internationally.

Over the course of the programme, you will explore your individual creative voice, developing the self-motivation and focus necessary to work as an independent artist within the theatre industry.

Not only will you develop in the craft of playwriting, but in the transferable skills of dramaturgy, script analysis and working through devising.

On completion, you will have written at least two short works and one full-length piece for live performance.

The transferable skills you will gain, such as communication, research and project management, will be valuable to your career development whatever path you choose, including advanced study, if it interests you.

Our graduates have gone on to be professional playwrights but also to careers in arts management, journalism, performance art, screenwriting, teaching and socially-engaged arts practice.

I would not be where I am today were it not for the Masters in Playwriting. Nicola McCartney's skill as a teacher and mentor was absolutely key in developing and understanding my craft, and makes this programme very unique, as do the practical elements. I recommend this programme most highly to those at any stage of developing their craft and voice as a playwright, and to those on continuing journeys to understand better the craft and mechanisms of theatre and what it is able to do.

Helene Grøn, playwright, librettist, co-founder of Leylines theatre company, and Research Assistant at Københavns Universitet. MSc in Playwriting, 2013

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant discipline or equivalent professional experience.

We require a portfolio of work of around 45 minutes playing time or 30 to 40 pages. The portfolio must contain original writing for the stage. Screenplays, fiction and poetry are not accepted. We recommend that you offer extracts from more than one work.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.


In addition to the supporting documents requested on the application form, you must supply a portfolio of writing for live performance of about 45 minutes’ playing time. You should make a selection of extracts from your writing rather than sending full scripts.

Personal statement

You also need to send a personal statement outlining relevant experience, particular writing interests and why you want to study writing for theatre.

All supporting documents, including references, must be uploaded to the online application system by the deadline date.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH