An Introduction to Screenwriting

269,395 enrolled on this course

This online course explores the key concepts and fundamental principles involved in the process of screenwriting.

An Introduction to Screenwriting


2 weeks

Weekly study

3 hours



Screenplays form the starting point for most dramatic films, the essential work from which all other filmmaking flows. All of the tender romance, terrifying action and memorable lines begin at the screenwriter’s desk. This free online course will introduce you to the basic elements and key concepts behind a professional screenplay.

The University of East Anglia’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing have built this course with instructors and recent alumni from their famed course in Creative Writing.

Where could this course take me?
The course is a must for anyone new to scriptwriting and for more experienced writers who wish to raise their scriptwriting to a professional level. It will establish a common vocabulary for approaching the screenplay and form the basis for upcoming courses in dramatic adaptation, the crime screenplay, and other genres and skills.

What and how will I learn?
You’ll learn from a mixture of basic theory, script analysis and practical exercises. We will explore key principles as they’re expressed in great films, then immediately apply these concepts. Videos, articles and discussion steps will offer you the opportunity to learn and engage with other learners on key concepts and ideas.

By the end of the course, you will understand the key concepts necessary to write an effective screenplay and be fluent in the language used to discuss the form.

What topics will you cover?

  • Basic characteristics of screen story
  • Development of a basic storyline
  • Story structures including The Three Act Structure and alternate story structures
  • Characters and developing character outlines
  • The construction of scenes including the role of dialogue and character voice
  • The workflow for writing a first draft of feature film screenplay
  • The process for screenplay formatting
  • Writing – and finishing – a first draft

An Introduction to Screenwriting

4.8 (882 reviews)

269,395 enrolled on this course

2 weeks

3 hours per week

Digital certificate when eligible

Introductory level

FutureLearn Programmes

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to…

Who is the course for?

There are no formal requirements for this course, just an interest in screenwriting.

Who will you learn with?

Michael Lengsfield

Screenwriter Michael Lengsfield teaches scriptwriting at the University of East Anglia, where he specializes in the theory and practice of dramatic adaptation. @Film_Adaptation

Who developed the course?

UEA (University of East Anglia)

UEA is an internationally renowned university, providing top quality academic, social and cultural facilities to more than 17,000 students from over 100 countries around the world. A research-intensive institution recognised for the quality of its research. UEA is ranked 10th in the UK for the quality of its research outputs (Times Higher REF 2014 Analysis). We are proud of our strong research into real-world issues across medicine & health sciences, science, the arts & humanities, and social sciences.

Our teaching is research-led, and of the highest quality. UEA received Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF 2017 – 2021) – the UK Government’s new method of assessing the quality of teaching delivered by higher education providers.

We encourage our students to discover new possibilities through our world-leading teaching and research. Our students are intelligent, ambitious and curious with an overriding desire to make a positive impact on the world.

UEA has partnered with FutureLearn from the very start. We are committed to enhancing digital learning by providing learners across the world with high quality courses and unique access to our academic community. So, if you want to change the world with your degree, make an impact in your industry and reach your full potential – the University of East Anglia is a brilliant next step.

Endorsers and supporters
Funded by

creative skillset

EC x FutureLearn