Course Title: Assess TV scripts

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2013

Course Code: COMM7316

Course Title: Assess TV scripts

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6125 - Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting

Course Contact : Program Administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4815

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

  • Teacher: Noel Maloney
  •  Email:

Nominal Hours: 70

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites


Course Description

The unit Assess TV Scripts develops the skills and knowledge required to analyse and assess a TV script. By exploring the various stages of the script process and examining the different script elements, you will be able to isolate and identify the flaws and strengths of various scripts. This will enable you to provide feedback to others as well as develop your own work.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

ASWATV603A Assess TV scripts


1. Establish program requirements.

Performance Criteria:

1.1 The target audience is clearly identified
1.2 The production requirements and budgetary limitations are clarified
1.3 The genre and format of the script are clearly delineated
1.4 Story and character arcs are clearly established
1.5 Script is tailored to series episode length


2. Assess script elements.

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Plot and narrative construction are analysed against conventions of the program
2.2 Style of script is examined for consistency with program style and audience expectations
2.3 Content of script is reviewed for consistency with genre and format
2.4 Characterisations are critiqued against program conventions and audience expectations
2.5 Script is checked for continuity


3. Redress script problems.

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Script’s strengths and weaknesses are summarised
3.2 Tasks necessary for re-drafting of script are established
3.3 Appropriate strategies for re-drafting of script are prioritised
3.4 Written analysis is formatted to script department requirements and presented punctually

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to analyse and assess a TV script

Details of Learning Activities

In class: Workshops, close script readings, class exercises, industry speakers, group discussion and presentation.
Out of class: Independent project work, writing and reading assignments, independent study.

Teaching Schedule

Teaching schedule
Please note: While your teacher will cover all the material in this schedule, the weekly order is subject to change depending on class needs and availability of speakers and resources.

Week startingClass contentAssessment dueElements
Week 1

Dates for presentations
What is dramatic action? How do you represent it?
What is story?
What is the relationship between story and action?
Script: Breaking Bad, Pilot, Series 1, Episode 1 Writer: Vincent Gilligan

Exercise 1: Identify story strands and story beats in script.

Week 2 

 What is character development?
What is characterisation?
What is conflict?
What are character and story arcs?
What is the relationship between character, conflict and story arc?
Basics story concepts: premise, dramatic question, theme, exposition
Basic story components: conflict, action, character, time, place, design etc

Script: Six Feet Under, Series 1, Episode 13, ‘Knock, Knock’. Writer: Alan Ball

Exercise 2: Write an additional scene for above script.

Week 3 
 What is genre and what does it mean in television?
Recognise formats
Determine budget requirements
Identify roles in script departments
What is the relationship between budgets, genre, script requirements, story and character?

Scripts: Dr Who, Series 3, Episode 1, ‘Smith and Jones’. Writer: Russell T. Davies

Exercise 3: Develop genre

1, 2
Week 4 
 Tailor scripts to episode lengths
Work with house style and rules
How do you develop conflict?
Negating the negation

Script: Walking Dead, Series 1 Pilot. Writer: Frank Darabont

Exercise 4: Upping the stakes

 1, 2
Week 5 
Themes and their importance to narrative development.
What is the relationship between theme, character and story?

Battlestar Galactica: bible
The Wire: bible

Exercise 5: Develop a series idea. Develop themes

  1, 2
Week 6 
 How do plotting requirements differ between formats?
How do formats effect plotting?
POV. How does it change things?

Being Human, Pilot, Series 1. Writer: Tobey Whitehouse

Exercise 6: Plot additional scenes for given script. Play with point of view.

Guest lecturer: Deb Parsons

 1, 2, 3
Week 7 
How do you structure a scene effectively?
Imagery. Big print. Telling story with pictures. What cameras can do.
What is the relationship between dramatic action and image?
Script: Breaking Bad, Episode 1, Pilot Writer: Vince Gilligan

Exercise 7: Write an additional scene for above script

  1, 2, 3
Week 8 

Review tools for assessing strengths and weaknesses:
dramatic action
character development
scene structure

Script: The Insider’s Guide to Love, Series1, Episode 1: ‘Fallen In Love Lately?’ Writer: David Brechin-Smith

Exercise 8: In class assessment of given script 

  1, 2, 3
 Please note: there is no class on Easter Thursday, 5 April  
Week 9 
Serial TV writing
Story stranding in an episode and over a season
Audience expectation
Building irony, suspense and curiosity

cript: Neighbours

Guest lecturer: Shaun Topp

Exercise 9: participate in a plotting session
Script provided for Assessment 1.


 1, 2, 3
 Week 10 

  PLEASE NOTE: Week 10, Thursday 25 April is a public holiday (ANZAC Day)  
 Week 11 
One on one sessions with teacher.
 1, 2, 3
Week 12 
 Writing  the same scene in different house/show styles.
 Assessment 1 due:
Assess a TV Script
1, 2, 3
 Week 13 
 Developing dialogue. 1, 2, 3
 Week 14 

 Presentations. Assessment 2 due:

 Week 15 
Presentations.Assessment 2 due: Presentations (cont.)
 Week 16 
Assessment 2 due: Presentations (cont.) 1,2,3

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

All course material will be provided in class

All course materials will be provided in printed form. However digital copies of scripts are also available on blackboard. Students with laptops or tablets are encouraged to download scripts and bring them to class as digital editions. Suggested Texts: (not required)
Top Shelf 1 & 2, Ed, Greg Haddrick, AFTRS, Currency Press 2001
Storytelling in Film and Television, Kristin Thompson, Harvard Uni Press, 2003


Extracts, readings and additional references are provided throughout the course. In addition to hard copy handouts, some readings are made available on Blackboard, and others can be accessed via the web. Recommended books will be discussed in class. You are advised to visit Blackboard for ongoing updated information

Other Resources

Students will require access to a word processing program. These are also available in the Carlton Library.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment  is ongoing throughout the semester. Your knowledge and understanding of course content is assessed through participation in class exercises, oral presentations and through the application of learned skills and insights to your writing tasks.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment tasks in this course are either formative or summative.

Formative tasks provide the basis for ongoing feedback and can be considered as essential building blocks for the more substantial summative assessment tasks. Summative assessment tasks in this unit are graded.
To demonstrate competency, you will need to complete the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback on all assessment.

Formative assessment for this course comprises eleven in-class exercises. In order to successfully complete this unit, you will need to have done at least eight of these exercises to a satisfactory standard.

Summary of formative exercises:

Exercise 1: Identify story strands and story beats in script.
Exercise 2: Write an additional scene for above script.
Exercise 3: Develop genre
Exercise 4: Upping the stakes
Exercise 5: Develop a series idea. Develop themes
Exercise 6: Plot additional scenes for given script. Play with point of view.
Exercise 7: Write an additional scene for above script
Exercise 8: In class assessment of given script
Exercise 9: Participate in a plotting session
Exercise 10: Field work
Exercise 11: Edit given dialogue scene for characterisation, action, subtext
and scene requirements

The following two assessments will be graded and will determine your final result for this unit.

1. Assess A TV Script Due: Week 12 (May 9)
Critique a given script of approximately 55minutes in length, in terms of dramatic action, story structure, genre, themes, characterisation, character development and format. 1500 words.

2. Assess A TV Series Due: Week 4 to 16 ( May 23,30 and June 6)
Class presentation of 30 minutes

Working in pairs, choose a TV drama series from a shortlist provided or by negotiation with teacher. In a dual presentation of approximately 30 minutes, identify its premise, genre intended audience and specific format. Draw on and present scripted examples from at least five episodes and discuss the success of the series in terms of:
•Narrative structures and plot techniques
•Major character arcs and

Both particupants in this project will be assessed equally.

80 – 100% CHD - Competent with High Distinction
70 – 79% CDI - competent with Distinction
60 – 69% CC - competent with Credit
50 – 59% CAG - competency achieved – Graded
NYC - not yet competent

For further information on the assessment and grading criteria, please refer to the course Blackboard site.

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are available through the course contact in Program administration

Other Information

The major learning experience involves studio based exercises, demonstration and production. It is strongly advised that students attend all sessions in order to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring the maximum opportunity to gain the competency.

Cover Sheet for Submissions
All students must complete a submission cover sheet for each piece of submitted work.

Plagiarism - RMIT has a strict policy on plagiarism. For more information on this policy go to Academic Integrity

All students have access to the myRMIT copyright shell. The myRMIT copyright shell contains information on copyright, plus also examples on how to use copyright works as part of your projects and assignments.

Special consideration Policy (Late Submission)
All assessment tasks are required to be completed to a satisfactory level. If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment by the due date, you will need to apply for an extension. Please refer to the following URL for extensions and special consideration:

Student Progress Committee
This committee promotes the early identification of students who are not achieving acceptable academic performance. The committee provides identified students with assistance and seeks to ensure such students are aware of the range of support services available to them at the University. Student Progress Committee (SPC)

Student Feedback
Students are offered opportunities to provide feedback through a variety of mechanisms including online surveys conducted at the end of each course or semester, student complaints and Student Staff Consultative Committees

Course Overview: Access Course Overview