The Diploma in Script Development is the only comprehensive vocational programme in script development in the UK.
  • The world's first Diploma course in Script Development.
  • Taught programme and practical development project with a screenwriter.
  • Part-time, evening course.
  • Access to new screenwriters.
  • Regular Industry speakers.

Course Overview

16 Month - part-time course. This course commences in September each year.

A unique programme, the Diploma in Script Development is the only comprehensive vocational course in script development in the UK. This course offers a brilliant opportunity to grow the skills to develop for film and TV.  It was launched in 2003 and has since trained some 150 people, most of which are successfully working in the UK or international film industry as developers for film and/or TV drama projects or as creative producers and a few are successfully writing drama.

Script Development alumni go onto great things. Here’s what just a few of our alumni say about the course…

If you are fortunate enough to get a place - whether you are a producer, a writer, or a development exec – it’s an experience that will pay dividends in bucket-loads for your future career.
Adam Polonsky – Producer/Head of Development at Focus Films

"The development diploma is the most thorough and comprehensive training in a variety of development skills there is.  From analysing story to writing reports, from how to manage writers to experience of building that relationship, it remains the training which I most rely upon in my job."
Jamie Hewitt – Script Editor – BBC Drama

I’d recommend the course to anyone looking to develop a career in the scripted genre. It gives you the skills and confidence to work within any scripted medium. Throughout my career I’ve used the knowledge and skills gained on the course on a daily basis.
Melanie Halsall – Script Executive, Producer and Consultant

The Diploma offers the most comprehensive contemporary overview and on-going practical learning in an intensive professional environment. The programme combines lectures, seminars and workshops alongside talks and panel discussions with current industry practitioners, as well as supervised practical work with a screenwriter. Guest speakers for the current year have included Reno Antoniades, Julia Short, Sam Lavender, Jonathan Asser and Matthew Bates.

There are continuous written assignments (some assessed, some not) throughout the taught section of the programme which are mostly practical and designed to be useful to a career in development, as well as other areas of the film industry.

The programme consists of 30 taught sessions of 2 hours each held during term-time on a weekday evening (from 7pm - 9pm) running from September - July.

The Final Project element of the Diploma is a six-month supervised development project, which begins at the beginning of the summer when students are paired with a screenwriter. The delivery of all assessed material for the Final Project is due in December.

The course design offers a collaborative experience for students as well as a total immersion in the art and craft of development for the duration of the programme. Whilst the course is full-on it is not full-time; it requires commitment to one evening taught classes through regular term times and completing relevant assignments, but it is entirely possible to combine this course with full-time work so long as you have the necessary desire and commitment!

Advisory Panel

With an advisory panel including Amma Asante – Writer/Director, Beverley Booker – Head of Development – Drama – Sky, Celine Haddad - Senior Film Executive - Creative England, Dan MacRae, Head of UK Development – Studio Canal, Emily Feller – Producer – Red Productions, Jamie Hewitt – Script Editor – BBC Drama , Joe Oppenheimer – Commissioning Editor – BBC Films, Marilyn Milgrom – Script Consultant,  Peter Ansorge – Producer, Robyn Slovo – Producer, Rose Garnett – Head of Development – Film4 and Yael Shavit -Director / Script Editor, the Script Development Diploma will give you the inside track on what the industry needs from its developers of the future.

Scholarships and Bursaries

The NFTS want to encourage applications from the brightest and best talent out there….from all backgrounds. We are actively seeking to redress imbalances within the Industry by encouraging applications from under-represented groups, and have bursaries of £1500 on offer to 5 of the successful candidates. Bursaries will be awarded to stand out talent who can demonstrate that without this funding they would not be able to afford the course, or who can demonstrate they bring a unique and distinct perspective to the course.


The programme covers:

  • Story and Genre Theory
  • Script analysis and script report writing
  • Assessing and developing screenwriting craft skills
  • Negotiating development meetings
  • Detailed story development practice
  • Assessing treatments and other short documents
  • Adaptations - including legal and copyright issues
  • The Industrial environment - development in its context
  • Guest speakers from the public sector, agents, lawyers, independent producers
  • Europe and the role of international film festivals
  • Distribution and Marketing

The Final Project
At the beginning of the summer term, students are paired with a new screenwriter for a Final Development Project. Over six months, the student and writer will work together through two drafts and two development meetings. This project is closely supervised and intended to be a useful and practical experience for both the developer and the writer.


Angeli Macfarlane provides development consultancy to British, European, Australian and US production companies. She works with writing and directing talent  including Mat Whitecross for Mint Pictures, Gabriel Range on Outlaw Prophet for Sony TV - in production April 2014,  Anthony Byrne and Natalie Dormer for 42, Emily Ballou for BBC Scotland, Fran Poletti for Salon Pictures and Joan Sauers for Screen Australia. She is also co-producer for Altered Image on feature Costa Rica, written by Jake Arnott and Amber Trentham and Lust for Life, by Robin French.

Ludo Smolski is a development consultant and script editor, having worked recently on Jon S Baird’s Filth, adapted from the Irvine Welsh novel, and Bruce Goodison’s Leave to Remain (LFF 2013). He works regularly for directors such as Martin Wallace (Small Creatures) and Zam Salim (BAFTA-winning Up There) and currently consults for Metrodome Distribution, Pistachio Pictures and Wingbeat Pictures among others.

Entry Requirements

We are looking for people who:

  • Already work in development and feel they may benefit from a structured course in story theory and working practice in order to build their confidence and resources
  • Already work in the film industry and are keen to develop or hone their skills when working with scripts and writers, to get the best work from those writers
  • Are new producers keen to get an edge on finding and nurturing new writing talent
  • Have experience in other creative industries and would like to explore script development and believe that they can bring new experience and ideas to the process of developing scripts and cultivating writers
  • Have a passion for film, a love of storytelling, can demonstrate initiative, and have an enthusiasm for, and a commitment to, working collaboratively

If you are not an EEA National, you must already be in possession of a UK visa valid for the duration of this course.  We are unable to accept your application if you do not.

Apply With

We would like you to write a short piece (750 words max) telling us about a film or TV drama you wish you had developed. Please include:

  • The reasons you have chosen this piece.
  • A brief description of the main story line and the protagonist’s story arc. 
  • Your ideas around what you think might have improved the script.

How to Apply

The application deadline has now passed, please contact registry via email stating your name, course of interest and email address if you would like to be added to a mailing list:
  • 16 Month Course
  • Part-time
  • Course starts in September
  • Next intake: September 2018
  • UK and EEA applicants only