MA Writing for Theatre

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

Throughout its history University College Dublin has been deeply involved in the progress of Irish literary affairs. Indeed, many of Ireland’s leading writers were educated at UCD including, James Joyce, Kate O’Brien, Flann O’Brien, Thomas Kinsella, Edna O’Brien, Frank McGuinness, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Neil Jordan, Roddy Doyle, Marina Carr, Joseph O’Connor, Emma Donoghue and Conor McPherson.

This MA caters for emerging playwrights who are determined to:

  • Enhance their creative and critical practices in a risk-conducive, collegial environment
  • Engage and be inspired by encounters with key theatre makers and critical thinkers about performance and cultures
  • Benefit from expert feedback from staff and associate theatre professionals
  • Apply the insights and motivation engendered by experiencing a range of performances in Dublin and London.
  • Discover how best to tell the stories you believe in.

This Writing for Theatre MA offers you the opportunity to devote a considerable amount of time to write, evolve and reflect on your own creative practices, in the context of a supportive academic environment which is dedicated to the analysis, exploration and reflection on modern and contemporary theatre and performance.  


Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

This Playwriting MA will provide a range of advanced practical strategies for approaches to writing for theatre, will develop your dramaturgical skills and editing competencies, will encourage disciplined practices, and will broaden your creative expression.                                                                                                         

This programme also supports students to develop their skills in analysing and evaluating theatre writing and performance from around the world, and invites you to engage with current theoretical and practical philosophies of dramaturgy and performance.     

 Teaching throughout the MA includes seminars, masterclasses, workshops, rehearsed readings, laboratory sessions, theatre visits, critical appraisals, and regular feedback from peers and members of staff and professional theatre practitioners. Classes foster a supportive, collegial ethos.


• Writing for Theatre 1 (taught in association with a leading Playwright/Director) (10 Credits)

• Writing for Theatre 2 (10 Credits)

• Research and Analysis in Drama and Performance (10 Credits)

• Issues and Perspectives (10 Credits)

• Playwriting Project (40 Credits) This project includes script development support with group sessions with members of Fishamble Theatre Company, who are renowned for their role in the development and production of new work.

• Elective module (10 Credits) from European Theatre in Context, Contemporary Irish Theatre, the Body and Performance (TBC)

Professional contributors over the past number of years include Conor McPherson, Frank McGuinness, Mark Doherty, Rachel Feehily, Declan Hughes and Sophie Motley.

Please contact the school for fee information

1) Academic/Professional Entry requirements:  GPA 3.08, or recognition of Prior Learning as approved by the Graduate School Board of the UCD College of Arts and Humanities equivalent to final GPA 3.08 (as per UCD Academic Secretariat 6.3 (p.29) re:  UCD M.A. Taught Awards:  Honours Classification Table.  *In exceptional circumstances applications may be considered in lieu of academic qualification as appropriate, where evidence of training, knowledge and substantial experience of the professional theatre industry is demonstrated.  An offer will normally only be made after interview.

2) IELS, or equivalent, with an average score of 7.00 over all components and with a miniumum of 6.5 in each band of the Academic Version.

Students meeting the programme’s academic entry requirements but not the English language requirements, may enter the programme upon successful completion of UCD’s International Pre-Master’s Pathway programmes. Please see the following link for further information:

3)  Interview, Audition; CV/Portfolio; Writing sample (essay/critical review); Two references (one of which to be academic); Personal Statement.





“After completing the MA in playwriting at UCD I was privileged to be asked by Professor Frank McGuinness to write a monologue for the highly acclaimed play Signatories, UCD's response to the 1916 commemorations. Throughout the production process with director Patrick Mason, I used the invaluable knowledge I gained from studying at UCD to fully engage with the actor, director and producer in the process of the development and theatricalisation of the play.  Studying playwriting at UCD was a wonderfully stimulating experience. It has given me a framework, language and lens through which I can analyse, understand and write in the context of theatre and other creative mediums. I am currently working on a book, a short film and contribute regularly to newspapers and radio.” Rachel Feehily (Mediator and Writer/Published Author)

“The Writing for Theatre module was by far my favourite aspect of the Drama and Performance MA. It was a great opportunity to get feedback on my own work and have the opportunity to listen to the work of others. Working with Conor McPherson was such an interesting and rewarding experience, to have the opportunity to have someone of that calibre look over your work and advise you really was invaluable. I would one hundred percent recommend the module to anyone interested in theatre on any level. It’s an excellent opportunity to get involved creatively with theatre texts within an academic framework.”  Ciara Murphy (Currently PhD Candidate

“The MA in Playwriting is a chance to learn directly from a working playwright (for my year it was Conor McPherson), and also complete a full length script for production. It gives you the practical tools on all aspects of the process including structure, character development, dialogue, but also the confidence to express your own voice as a playwright. I highly recommend this course for any playwright who wishes to really see their ideas come to fruition.” Tracy Ryan (Writer of Strike and Currently a Phd Candidate)

 “The playwriting strand of the Masters course is quite unique. The class is small which means two main things: every student gets enough time to have their work read out and discussed and strong bonds are formed. The course is structured to cover all aspects of playwriting, from endings to beginnings with a practical emphasis. We also had the extraordinary privilege of having a number of classes with both Frank McGuinness and Conor McPherson. As well as giving us tips, they also listened to our work and gave us valuable feedback. Enormous encouragement and support was provided and practical advice given, for example, we were introduced to Jim Culleton of Fishamble, who facilitated two fascinating sessions. Overall, this course provides a wonderful, practical insight into the world of playwriting in Ireland today and I loved every minute of it.” Fiona Daly (Arts Journalist and Academic Tutor)