Course Title: Assess TV scripts

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2015

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


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 due

Week 1


Dates for presentations
What is meant by drama action? Where do the rules come from?
What is the relationship between story and dramatic action?

Script: Breaking Bad, Pilot, Series 1, Episode 1 Writer: Vincent Gilligan
Ergonomic computer use

Exercise: Identify actions, story strands and story beats in script.

Additional readings (provided):
Aristotle, The Poetics
Szondi, P. Theory of Modern Drama

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: Write an additional scene for above script.

Week 3

What are narrative conventions? What is genre?
Identify roles in script departments
What is the relationship between production budgets and scriptwriting...and scriptwiting and conventions, genre, script requirements, story and character?

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

Exercise: Identify conventions

Week 4 

Tailor scripts to episode lengths
Work with house style and rules 
Developing conflict.
Copyright issues for contracted TV writers

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

Exercise: write additional scenes of given script



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

Script: The Slap, Ep 4: ’Connie’. Writer: Alice Bell.

Battlestar Galactica: bible
The Wire: bible

Assessment Task 
1. Present a Critique of Scenes
Week 6
How do plotting requirements differ between formats?
How do formats effect plotting?
P.O.V.. How does it change things?

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

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

 Assessment Task (cont)
1. Present a Critique of Scenes
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: rewrite a scene from first assessment.

Guest lecturer: Deb Parsons

Week 8

Review tools for assessing strengths and weaknesses:
  • dramatic action
  • character development
  • plotting
  • scene structure
  • subtext
  • imagery

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

Exercise: in-class script report 

Script provided for Assessment 2: Write a Script Report

 MID SEMESTER BREAK: Please note there will be no classes from Friday 3 April through to Friday 10 April inclusive . 
 Week 9

One-on-one sessions with teacher


Week 10 


Serial TV Writing

Story plotting
Scene breakdowns

Script: Neighbours

Additional Readings:
Sample script reports


Assessment 2 Due:
Write a Script Report

 Week 11
Serial TV writing
Story stranding in an episode and over a season
Audience expectation
Building irony, suspense and curiosity

Script: Neighbours

Guest lecturer: TBC

Exercise: participate in a plotting session

Thompson, Kristin Storytelling in Film and Television.

Week 12
Adapt to different house/show styles.


 Week 13
Developing dialogue. 
 Week 14 Presentations.Assessment 3 Due:
Presentation Critique of Produced TV Drama Series
 Week 15Presentations.Assessment 3 Due:
Presentation Critique of Produced TV Drama Series
 Week 16 
Assessment 3 Due:
Presentation Critique of Produced TV Drama Series

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

To demonstrate competency in this course you will need to complete all of the following assessment tasks to a satisfactory standard. You will receive written feedback on all assessment (refer to Blackboard for assessment criteria). Submission dates for tasks fall on the day you attend class.

Assessment 1. Present a Critique of Selected Scenes
To prepare for this task you will write a sequence of three scenes, of no more than one minute each, for an existing drama episode. Then you will assess another students’ sequence and give them oral feedback in class.

Due: Week 5 (9.3.15 or 12.3.15) or Week 6 (16.3.15 or 19.3.15) to be negotiated with your teacher.

Assessment 2. Script Report
You will write a 1500-word script report of a previously unseen TV drama script.

Due: Week 10 (20.4.15 or 23.4.15)

Assessment 3. Present a Critique of a Produced TV Drama Series Episode
You will assess a produced episode of a TV series. The focus is on the script as it has been written, directed, edited and produced.

You will present your assessment in class, and you will be assessed on your presentation. Allow 20 minutes for your presentation, and 10 minutes for discussion.

The focus of this activity is on the produced episode. However, you are welcome to also reference the written script of the episode, if it is available.

Due: Week 14, 15 or 16 (18.5.15 to 4.6.15, on a day and time negotiated with your teacher)

Once you have demonstrated competency, your final assessment task will be graded (refer to Blackboard for grading rubric).

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

Please refer to the RMIT student page for extensive information about study support, assessment, extensions, appeals and a range of other matters:

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. Non-attendance may seriously jeopardise the chances of success in a course. Clearly, non-attendance at an assessment will result in failure of that assessment. Where visa conditions apply, attendance is compulsory.

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.

Credit Transfer and Recognition of Prior Learning(web link)
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process through which people can gain entry to, or credit in, recognised courses based on competencies gained. The competencies may have been gained through experience in the workplace, in voluntary work, in social or domestic activities or through informal or formal training or other life experiences. Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) applies if a student has previously successfully completed the requirements of a unit of competency or module and is now required to be reassessed to ensure that the competency has been maintained.

Assessment and Feedback (web link)
You will receive verbal feedback during scheduled class times, and written feedback from teachers on your work . Where appropriate, this feedback will also include suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.

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

Special consideration for Late Submission (web link)
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 will need to apply for special consideration.

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

Course Overview: Access Course Overview