NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.
The Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing is an industry-focused course designed to support and accelerate the careers of new writers telling compelling stories across stage and screen.
Students undergo a rigorous exploration of the building blocks of dramatic craft applied across theatre, film, television and interactive and immersive writing. This is a practice-based course that structures learning around imaginative writing exercises and the development of a portfolio of projects, including two full-length works and multiple outlines ready to pitch. Students also develop professional friendships and undertake collaborative projects, such as working in TV writers’ rooms, as well as working with directors and actors to workshop scenes and productions across stage and screen.
This is an intensive course with a significant workload designed to prepare students for life as a professional writer. However, it also offers flexibility and a safe, supportive and stimulating environment where students can be curious, experiment with form and subject matter, and explore their own unique imagination and voice. We believe that some of our most important stories are those least told and strongly encourage applications from First Nations and other writers from underrepresented communities. Building inclusive and collaborative environments and understanding issues of story ownership is seen as core to developing an ethical practice.
The course is focused on developing versatile and adaptive dramatic writers capable of having sustainable writing careers. With the capacity to work across theatre, film and television, students receive a thorough overview of those industries, illustrated by industry guests, and how to generate opportunities to pitch themselves and their projects. NIDA’s strong links with industry facilitates pathways into those industries as well as allows students to begin establishing a network of professional connections.
Utilise sophisticated dramatic techniques in the creation of form appropriate narrative
Critically analyse a range of narrative works across stage and screen, providing a rigorous explanation of their dramatic composition and thematic concerns
Create work and communicate ideas that demonstrate a distinctive voice
Develop safe and inclusive environments and working relationships that facilitate all participants to contribute to challenging creative projects
Generate professional opportunities through the application of knowledge and understanding of the creative industries
Navigate complex ethical issues that connect the process and outcome of storymaking with its social, cultural and political context
Design, implement, document and / or disseminate research relevant to their practice
The duration of the Master of Fine Arts is 18 months and comprises nine subjects with a total of 180 credit points, with 60 credit points per semester.
Students are usually required on campus at NIDA from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday.
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.
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.
We understand that you may have questions about our courses and career opportunities. That's why we offer you the chance to connect with our experienced course leaders to get all your enquiries addressed.
Whether you're curious about our application process, eager to understand what our course leaders seek in a portfolio, or simply uncertain about which NIDA course suits you best, we're here to assist you.
Domestic students with overseas qualifications must supply certified translations of their qualifications. International students with academic qualifications that are not in English will need to attach a certified, official translation in English in application portal.
General entry requirements for accredited postgraduate courses are as follows:
Have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area) or have five years relevant experience in a related area.
Be proficient in written and spoken English.
Applications are encouraged from domestic applicants who:
Identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
Applications are encouraged from international applicants who:
have successfully completed a Genuine Temporary Entry (GTE) interview.
have an English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 8.0
Recognition of Prior Learning is an assessment process that involves assessment of an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit outcomes of an individual application for credit.
NIDA may grant credit for:
Formal study undertaken in recognised education institutions in Australia, including universities, colleges, TAFE and other post-secondary education institutions and for study at recognised overseas institutions.
Credentialed courses provided by recognised professional bodies, employers and other authorities, where appropriate certification is available; and
Prior learning, where such learning can be sufficiently evidenced.
The principles underlying the assessment of credit transfer/Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) applications are that the policy and procedures are:
Aligned to the Higher Education Standards Framework and the Vocational Standards for RTOs.
Designed to maintain the integrity and reputation of NIDA’s accredited courses for which credit or RPL is applied and support the collaborative nature of NIDA’s conservatoire training model.
Consistent, equitable, transparent, and accountable.
Based on processes of comparable standard and integrity to those used to assess the relevant subject.
That students are not disadvantaged in achieving the expected learning outcomes for the course of study or qualification.
In a maximum of 1,000 words, tell us your own unique story. Who are you, where do you come from and where are you heading to? Give us a sense of your personality, what has shaped you and what do you want to say about the world?
2. PROFESSIONAL CV
Upload a detailed CV highlighting your education and training, professional work and other relevant experience.
3. 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.
Prepare examples of past work that support your application and demonstrate your suitability for a career in dramatic writing, for both stage and screen:
a) Three pieces of your best writing.
At least two should be dramatic scripts (plays or screenplays). At least one of these should be a full piece of work (of no more than 15 pages) while the other two can be an extract of a larger work (of no more than 10 pages).
All three pieces of work should be professionally formatted (NB: Anything over the permitted lengths will not be read).
b) Three one-page outlines for new pieces of work
These can be ideas for new full-length plays, films or television projects and should demonstrate your ability to create form-appropriate ideas.
Please merge your work into one document, and upload with your application.
You will upload both your Narrative Statement, CV and Portfolio in the ‘Course Specific Application Requirements’ attachment section of your online application.
Interviews are generally conducted by three panelists and will take place via Microsoft Teams. Each applicant interview will run for approximately 40 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 Dramatic Writing at NIDA. There will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about NIDA or about the interview itself.
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.
Fees and Scholarships
Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date each semester.
Domestic tuition fees overview
Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.
*The tuition fees are reviewed each year and if you enrol you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolments.
** 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.
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.
What is FEE-HELP?
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 2023, the FEE-HELP loan limit is $108,232 for most students.
A loan fee of 25% applies to FEE-HELP loans for undergraduate courses of study. The FEE-HELP limit does not include the loan fee.
The Government pays the amount of the loan directly to NIDA. Students repay their loan through the tax system once their income rises above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.
You are eligible for a FEE-HELP loan if you are either:
an Australian Citizen; or
hold a permanent humanitarian visa
Those NOT eligible for FEE-HELP are:
New Zealand citizens - refer to the Study Assist website
Australian permanent residents
Eligible students, who are Australian residents, can apply to Centrelink for financial assistance through Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY. Visit Centrelink or call 132 490 for more information.
NIDA is committed to making its education and learning more accessible to the most creative and talented individuals across Australia with a range of scholarships aimed to remove financial barriers, providing students with the opportunity to study at NIDA while being relieved of some of the cost of living, relocating and study expenses.
NIDA scholarships are made available by the generous support of donors, sponsors, corporate partners, trusts and bequests, through the NIDA Foundation Trust, and enable a significant increase in financial assistance to ongoing and students commencing study in 2024.
Students are required to have access to a Laptop (Windows 10 and later), MacBook (Mac OS 10.15 Catalina or later). All the devices should comply with 5ghz (dual band). All notebooks should be secured with a Kensington lock to help prevent theft.
For file transfers and data backup, it is advised to use the Microsoft OneDrive storage provided by your NIDA Account, for optimum video processing (if required by your subject) on your computer (Laptop/MacBook/Desktop etc.) a 1GB dedicated graphics card is recommended but not compulsory.
Students will need to have access to scriptwriting software on their laptops. Appropriate software will be recommended.
Open Day Course Information Session
Learn more about the MFA Dramatic Writing program from our Open Day course information session including panel hosted by Course Leader Joe Hepworth