Course Title: Assess TV scripts

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2014

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

Teacher: Ben Michael

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.

  1, 2
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/Case Study: Episode 1, Series 1, Bed of Roses. Writers: Jutta Goetz & Elizabeth Coleman 

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

Formative Assessment 1:
Develop a TV series concept
 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 5: 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 6: 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 

Formative Assessment 2:
In-class assessment of given script.
 1, 2, 3
 Week 9

Serial TV Writing
Story plotting
Scene breakdowns

Script: Neighbours




 1, 2, 3
Week 10 
Serial TV writing
Story stranding in an episode and over a season
Audience expectation
Building irony, suspense and curiosity

Script: Neighbours

Guest lecturer: Shaun Topp

Exercise 7: participate in a plotting session
Script provided for Assessment 1.


 1, 2, 3

MID SEMESTER BREAK: Please note there will be no classes from Friday 18 April through Friday 25 April inclusive.  
 Week 11 
One on one sessions with teacher.
 1, 2, 3
Week 12 
 Writing  the same scene in different house/show styles.
Summative Assessment 1 due:
Assess a TV Script
1, 2, 3
 Week 13 
 Developing dialogue. 1, 2, 3
 Week 14 

 Presentations.Summative Assessment 2 due:

 Week 15 
Presentations.Summative Assessment 2 due: Presentations (cont.)
 Week 16 
Summative 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 internet access and word processing software. 

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 two in-class exercises. In order to successfully complete this unit, you will need to have done these exercises to a satisfactory standard. 

Task 1. Develop a TV series idea
DUE: Week 5
In small groups, you will develop a concept for a television drama series that includes:

  • the premise
  • the format
  • main characters
  • the themes 

You will share your concepts in class.

Task 2: In class assessment of given script
DUE: Week 8
During class time you will assess a given script with particular attention given to dramatic action, story story, genre, themes, characterisation, character development and format. You will report on your assessment in class time.
The following two assessments will be graded and will determine your final result for this unit.

1. Assess A TV Script Due: Week 12
Write a 1500-word critique a given script of approximately 55minutes in length, in terms of dramatic action, story structure, genre, themes, characterisation, character development and format.

2. Assess A TV Series Due: Weeks 14, 15 & 16
Deliver a class presentation of 30 minutes to the following brief. Working in pairs, choose a TV drama series from a shortlist provided by or negotiated with your 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
  • characterisation
  • major character arcs
  • themes.

Both participants 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 you attend all sessions in order to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring the maximum opportunity to gain the competency

Cover Sheet for Submissions
You must complete a submission cover sheet for every piece of submitted work. This signed sheet acknowledges that you are aware of the plagiarism implications.

You will receive spoken and written feedback from teachers on your work. Where appropriate, this feedback will also includes suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.

Student Progress
Monitoring academic progress is an important enabling and proactive strategy to assist you to achieve your learning potential. Student progress policy

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. You can apply in writing for up to a week’s extension from your course teacher. If you need a longer extension, you wil need to apply for special consideration. Special consideration, appeals and discipline

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
RMIT University has a strict policy on plagiarism and academic integrity. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy.

Work Placement
It is a requirement of this program that all students participate in authentic work related tasks. These may be either simulated or in a real work environment. On occasion, we are approached by industry and given opportunities for students to apply for short term placements. When these placement opportunities arise, students are required to negotiate the specific details with the relevant program coordinator or teacher. All industry placements require students, RMIT staff and host organisations to sign a written agreement prior to the commencement of the placement.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview