• Student writing on a stage in empty theatre
  • Students in rehearsed reading performance of Writers' final works
  • Dr. Stephen Sewell giving a pre-performance address

MFA (Writing for Performance)

CRICOS CODE 080371K

Applications to study at NIDA in 2023 are open!

APPLY NOW

If you require application assistance, please contact applications@nida.edu.au.

View the MFA (Writing for Performance) Application Guide.

Not ready to apply? Sign up to our Higher Education list to receive updates about information sessions, how to complete your application and more.

NIDA encourages applications from candidates from diverse backgrounds, with different types of experiences across the various art forms, film, television or other areas, as well as in cultural development, policy and management.

NIDA welcomes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants.

About the course

This coursework Masters is a practice based, industry focused program designed to develop dramatic writers, who tell compelling stories across both stage and screen as they work towards a successful and sustainable career.

Students will develop a portfolio of projects across at least two dramatic forms, exploring the types of stories they want to tell, cultivating a distinctive voice and the ability to articulate their connection to those stories and what they say about the world around them.

In the process, students  will develop their professional practice, manage multiple deadlines, work collaboratively in professional contexts such as Writers’ Rooms, and provide and receive constructive feedback in supportive environments.

The course emphasises entrepreneurship and collaboration and combines advanced story-making for stage and screen with a rigorous focus on craft skills. Students develop and apply dramatic principles across theatre, film, television, dramatic podcasts and interactive storytelling. Each form will be explored from the perspective of story, audience and industry .

While individual and collaborative writing is at the centre of learning, students also participate in Commons subjects with other postgraduate students and acquire the essential research tools that equip you as writers to explore concepts and aesthetic choices.

NIDA’s strong links with industry, means that students are supported to build pathways into the creative industries. This is achieved through nurturing professional connections, industry opportunities and developing  your ability to pitch yourself and your projects.

Course structure

The duration of the Master of Fine Arts is 15 months and comprises six subjects with a total of 180 credit points, with a lead subject (60 credit points) which is the focal point.

The first year (from the end of January to the beginning of December) is spent at NIDA’s Sydney campus. In the final three months (January to March of the following year), students complete their research project and write up the results as a journal article. It is normally not essential that students be resident in Sydney during the final three months of the course but some attendance in Sydney may be required during this period.

Course dates

Course duration and contact hours

Students are at NIDA from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. During production terms students may also be required for rehearsals after hours and on weekends.

Additional time also needs to be allocated to library work, research, preparation for classes and private study. For this reason it is difficult for NIDA students to maintain regular part-time jobs. Studying at NIDA is a big commitment so students need to manage their time and resources carefully. 

All NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees are three-year full-time courses. All NIDA Master of Fine Arts courses, except for Cultural Leadership, are 15-month full-time courses. 

Course dates

COMING SOON

Course overview

Overview

In brief
  • Develop a portfolio of industry focused work
  • Apply craft skills across multiple storytelling forms, including theatre, film, TV, dramatic podcasts and interactive
  • Explore a wide range of live and screened works
  • Collaborate with students across NIDA, including actors, directors and designers
  • Regular industry guests and opportunities
Delivery mode
  • Classes are face to face with some online

Writing with Purpose (60 credit points)

WFP9101 Writing with Purpose is the primary subject of the Writing for Performance course, and directs and supports students’ development as dramatic writers, be that writing for stage, screen, dramatic podcasts or interactive stories.

Each student identifies and defines specific full-length writing projects that are aligned to their interests and ambitions. Through a structured development process, those ideas are tested and shaped in a series of roundtables where students read and provide notes on each others’ work, under the guidance of a tutor. The aim is to develop portfolio scripts that demonstrate unique voice, meaningful stories and an awareness of audience and market.

Alongside their project development, students partake in a series of writing exercises exploring the key craft skills required for dramatic writing, such as conflict, character, structure, dialogue and world building. These include, amongst other things, workshopping scenes with directors and actors.

Finally, students are introduced to the business of being a writer. How you identify and capitalise on opportunities, strategies for networking and the life of a self-employed creative.

Re-Reading the World (30 credit points)

WFP9102 Re-Reading the World places dramatic narratives within a social, political and cultural context. It takes as its starting point the idea that all stories act as “theories of life”, reflecting and commenting on the world we live in. As such, it’s important to understand the ideas and contexts that we are writing about, how to mine them for dramatic potential, what our own implicit bias and perspectives may be and how to research, collaborate and dramatise them ethically and respectfully.

Activities include an exploration of the cultural and psychological function of narrative, a range of guests to discuss inclusive and ethical practice and script and story analysis.

The Radical Imagination (15 credit points)

WFP9103 The Radical Imagination focuses on creativity and shaping a distinctive identity and voice as a dramatic writer.

Students are introduced to creative strategies to generate and develop ideas, participating in a story incubator where they explore and develop concepts for their major projects.

Students also develop the skills to be able to pitch themselves and their projects, articulating their connection to their work and with their work to the world around them.

Structuring this subject is a reflective journal, where regular entries are used as the basis for mentoring sessions with the course leader about the students’ professional development and career goals, their progress towards them and targeted support in achieving them.

The Future is Now (30 credit points)

WFP9104 The Future is Now looks at applying dramatic principles to a wide range of storytelling forms and platforms, including theatre, film, television, dramatic podcasts and interactive. The subject explores the different storytelling opportunities, development processes and challenges of these dramatic forms, as well as the possibilities of multi-platform storytelling.

This includes looking at the industrial contexts for these storytelling forms, such as a breakdown of the landscape and key players, business models and economic pressures, and commissioning and funding streams.

Students participate in a range of exercises and assessments, including a visual storytelling screen project, developing a television series within a writers’ room, producing a dramatic podcast and an interactive storytelling project.

This subject helps prepare students for careers as versatile and adaptive dramatic writers.

Contextualising Practice (15 credit points)

This subject develops each student’s understanding of their site of cultural endeavour within the framework of a wider field of contemporary cultural enterprise. The subject is designed to facilitate engagement by arts practitioners as well as producers, executives and managers, with a view to contextualising the practice of a range of creative and cultural professionals.

The subject begins by introducing critical analysis as a means of contextualizing the work of others. The remainder of the subject is divided into modules that explore the processes of creativity and collaboration that underpin diverse arts practices.

Generating Research through Practice (30 credit points)

This subject introduces students to the concepts and methods of practice-based research as these apply to the exploration and investigation of the arts.

Initially students are introduced to the concept of research and to research skills and related issues, including ethics, as these apply to practice-based research. Subsequently, students identify their research topic and design the research project, undertake investigation and gather data, and process the data and other findings. The subject culminates in the writing of a journal article as the final research output. Journal articles arising from this subject are posted to an internally accessible research journal. Students whose journal articles are assessed as outstanding are encouraged and supported to submit them to externally published journals.

Admission criteria

Admission criteria

  • All applicants applying for a graduate course at NIDA must have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area) or have five years relevant experience in a related area.
  • Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0.  Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at http://www.ielts.org/

Essential requirements

We select applicants who demonstrate commitment, capacity and willingness to advance their practice by:

  1. Working creatively
  2. Collaborating as part of a creative team
  3. Demonstrating a range of relevant skills and technical abilities
  4. Providing evidence of intellectual enquiry and reflection within their work
  5. Communicating clearly
  • All applicants applying for the graduate courses at NIDA must have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area) or have at least five years relevant experience in a related area.
  • Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0.  Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at www.ielts.org.

How to apply

Application process

Application to NIDA is by direct entry. Applicants apply online via the NIDA website.

Entry to the MFA (Writing for Performance) is by interview. See below for details on how to prepare.

View the MFA (Writing for Performance) Application Guide.

How to apply

NIDA uses direct application to the provider via the NIDA website.

Interview dates

Interview dates for the 2023 intake will be announced after applications open.

Your interview

What to prepare

SUBMIT WITH YOUR APPLICATION

The application process for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance) consists of two rounds:

  • Round One – Online Application, including CV and Portfolio
  • Round Two – Interview.

Only applicants who are successful in Round One will be invited to interview.

The following should be uploaded with your application:

1. PROFESSIONAL CV

You should upload a detailed CV highlighting your education and training, professional work and other relevant information.

2. ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

You will need to provide proof of your university degree/s or five years of professional experience in a relevant area. This can be a scan/photograph of your transcript or testamur from the awarding institution.

3. PORTFOLIO

You should prepare examples of past work that support your application and demonstrate your suitability for a career in writing for performance, for both stage and screen.

  • Prepare you three best pieces of writing.
  • At least two should be dramatic scripts (plays or screenplays) but one can be creative writing in another form (eg. A short story or poem).
  • At least one script should be a full piece of work while the other can be an extract of a larger work.
  • All three pieces of work should be professionally formatted.
  • Each extract or example should be no more than 2000 words.
  • Please merge your three pieces into one document, and upload as part of your application.

Your narrative statement, CV and your writing portfolio should be submitted with your application.

THINGS TO NOTE

NIDA recognises that interviews can be stressful, but every effort will be made to ensure your experience will be as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. Remember, the more time and effort you put into your application in advance, the better prepared you will be and the more you will benefit from the interview and discussion.

The interview process is friendly, informal and open, and is designed to give you the very best opportunity to indicate your potential and readiness to study at NIDA. However, should you have any concerns with the interview process or with what is said to you during the course of the interview, please express your concern immediately, or talk it over with a member of the interview panel before you leave.

What to expect on the day

Interviews are generally conducted by two NIDA staff members, and will take place via Zoom.

Interviews will run for approximately 40 minutes. The interview is in two parts:

  • First, there will be a brief talk about NIDA, the MFA (Writing for Performance) course and what will happen during the interview. There will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about NIDA or about the interview itself.
  • Each applicant will then be interviewed for around 30 minutes. During the interview, we will discuss your portfolio; your ideas about theatre, film and television; your worldview, concerns, ambitions, creative process experience, and why you want to study Writing for Performance at NIDA.

Interview tips

  • Preparation! The more time and effort you put into the project and interview preparation in advance, the more confident you’ll be and the more you will benefit from the interview and discussion.
  • Come with a clear idea of why you want to study Writing for Performance at NIDA.
  • Plan your journey to the interview. Give yourself plenty of travel time to allow for delays.
  • We know that interviews can be stressful, but every effort will be made to ensure your experience will be as interesting and enjoyable as possible. The interview is designed to give you the very best opportunity to show your potential and readiness to study at NIDA.

The Writing portfolio

Writing portfolio requirements

You should prepare examples of past work that support your application and demonstrate your suitability for a career in writing for performance, for both stage and screen.

  • Prepare you three best pieces of writing.
  • At least two should be dramatic scripts (plays or screenplays) but one can be creative writing in another form (eg. A short story or poem).
  • At least one script should be a full piece of work while the other can be an extract of a larger work.
  • All three pieces of work should be professionally formatted.
  • Each extract or example should be no more than 2000 words.
  • Please merge your three pieces into one document, and upload as part of your application.

Your narrative statement, CV and your writing portfolio should be submitted with your application.

Fees

Tuition fees (2023)

Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date each semester.

Domestic Students

Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.

Prospective students: Download the Domestic Graduate Student Fee Schedule 2023

International Students

Fees and financial assistance vary for international students see International Students for full details.

Domestic tuition fees overview

DegreeCourse duration2023 Annual tuition fee $AUD*Estimated course tuition fee*
Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance)15 monthsN/A$33,840.00

Domestic tuition fee details

2023
Subject codeSubjectCredit pointsEFTSL**Tuition fee*
WFP9101Writing with Purpose600.418$11,280.00
WFP9102Rereading the World300.208$5,640.00
WFP9103The Radical Imagination150.104$2,820.00
WFP9104The Future is Now300.208$5,640.00
COM9101Contextualising Practice150.104$2,820.00
COM9102Generating Research Through Practice300.208$5,640.00
Total 1801.25$33,840.00


*The tuition fees are reviewed each year and you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolment.

** EFTSL – Effective Full-Time Study Load: indicates the relative study load of a subject against a full-time study load of 1.0 for an academic year. For consistency the EFTSL** have been rounded to 3 decimal places. This is not indicative of the full value of the EFTSL but represents an accurate load for fee calculations

Tuition fees (2022)

Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date each semester.

Domestic Students

Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.

Current students: Download the Domestic Graduate Student Fee Schedule 2022

International Students

Fees and financial assistance vary for international students see International Students for full details.

Domestic tuition fees overview

DegreeCourse duration2022 Annual tuition fee $AUD*Estimated course tuition fee*
Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance)15 monthsN/A$32,220.00

Domestic tuition fee details

2022
Subject codeSubjectCredit pointsEFTSL**Tuition fee*
WFP9101Writing with Purpose600.418$10,740.00
WFP9102Rereading the World300.208$5,370.00
WFP9103The Radical Imagination150.104$2,685.00
WFP9104The Future is Now300.208$5,370.00
COM9101Contextualising Practice150.104$2,685.00
COM9102Generating Research Through Practice300.208$5,370.00
Total 1801.25$32,220.00


*The tuition fees are reviewed each year and you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolment.

** EFTSL - Effective Fulltime Study Load: indicates the relative study load of a subject against a full time study load of 1.0 for academic year.

Additional costs

Information Technology Recommendations

To access NIDA wireless (iWIRE) network, students are required to have access to a Laptop (Windows 7 and later), Macbook (Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later) or a Tablet (less than three years old with wireless facility). All the devices should comply with 802.11a/b/g/n WPA-Enterprise security. All notebooks should be secured with a Kensington lock to help prevent theft.

For file transfers and data backup, a 500GB hard drive or higher and an 8GB USB stick are also recommended, as is a DVD burner, for optimum visual graphics on your computer(Laptop/MacBook/Desktop etc.) a 1GB dedicated graphics card is recommended but not required. 

FEE-HELP

Australian citizens and holders of permanent humanitarian visas are eligible for an Australian Government FEE-HELP loan for all or part of their tuition fees. For more information about FEE-HELP please read the information below and visit Study Assist.

FEE-HELP is the Australian Government loan scheme that assists eligible students to pay their tuition fees, so that students do not have to pay tuition fees up-front. FEE-HELP can cover all or part of a student's tuition fees. In 2019, the FEE-HELP limit is $104,440 for most students.

The government pays the amount of the loan directly to NIDA. Students repay their loan through the tax system once their incomes rises above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.

For more information go to studyassist.gov.au

Who is eligible for FEE-HELP?

You are eligible for a FEE-HELP loan if you are either:

  • an Australian Citizen; or
  • hold a permanent humanitarian visa.

The following students are NOT eligible for FEE-HELP:

  • New Zealand citizens - refer to the Study Assist website
  • Australian permanent residents
  • Overseas students.

Careers

Our graduates may be employed writers for stage and screen, as well as other dramatic genres, including dramatic podcasts and interactive storytelling. Students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to access and navigate a rapidly changing industry landscape and practices.

POTENTIAL CAREERS
  • Playwright
  • Screenwriter
  • Dramaturg
  • Script Editor/developer
  • Narrative designer
  • And other forms of writing for performance

See NIDA's list of Alumni.

Course Accreditation

NIDA’S Registration Status

Registered as a Higher Education Provider by TEQSA
https://www.teqsa.gov.au/national-register/provider/national-institute-dramatic-art

Registration Renewal Date

25 June 2025

CRICOS Registration

Code: 00756M

This allows NIDA to enrol international students on student visas into CRICOS approved courses.

Self Accrediting Authority*

Yes – partial self accrediting

Registered Higher Education providers may be authorised by TEQSA to self-accredit courses of study.

Course nameStatusCRICOS Code

Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance)

Self-Accredited by NIDA under TEQSA’s determination
of Self Accrediting Authority for NIDA

080371K

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