NFTS Scotland Certificate: Screenwriting - Finding Your Voice




Roughly 50,000 screenplays are registered every year with the WGA, and at least as many TV concepts are out there right now. In this highly competitive world of writing for film and television, the screenwriter can’t merely learn the principles, art and craft of screenwriting to ensure success. A ‘good story well told’ is simply not enough.

In this five month Certificate Course, delivered primarily online, writers are encouraged to bring their point of view to the fore, mining their unique experience and passion.

An individual ‘voice’ is the currency of the writer – it’s what shapes our work, makes it distinctive, and most importantly, makes it sell. To make our mark in this demanding and overcrowded industry we need to develop stories that only we can write.

Over the course of five months, in group sessions and one-to-one phone calls, the selected participants will be encouraged to use their own individual voice, learn to trust their instinct, take risks and turn their fears, hopes and obsessions into unique scripts.

What you will study

How can screenwriters put themselves ahead of the game and grab an audience’s attention? Are there lessons from the world’s master screenwriters? Is it a coincidence that successful screenwriters often return to the same themes and write different versions of the same core story over again? Could it be that the key to their success is that they are writing from a place of unique emotional truth and it’s this that really connects with audiences the world over?  

Participants in this course will adopt a variety of methods to discover what makes them tick as a writer, what stories resonate emotionally with them and go on to implement these home truths into working practice. Over the course they will learn to hone their voice, develop market-ready treatments and write a full-length screenplay for a feature film or pilot for a TV series.

The goal, on successful completion of the course, is to have a number of projects at various stages of development that are ready to be presented to the industry.

Classes will be held weekly in the evening over 23 weeks, where students will develop a number of stories from concept through to treatment to script via a combination of discussions, exercises and talks. They will be expected to write in their own time and deliver work in advance of each class. In addition, participants will be supported by one-to-one phonecalls for individual feedback and guidance.  A group forum will be available via an on-line platform.

Course Leader:

The course will be led by Colin McLaren who has many years’ experience as a screenwriter for film and TV.

His credits include:

THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON, which won 2 Scottish Baftas – for Best Film and Best Actress for Emma Thompson. It also won the Evening Standard Comedy Performance of the Year for Emma Thompson and DONKEYS, which won 2 Scottish Baftas – Best Film / Best Actor for James Cosmo.

His recent feature screenplays include:

DISCOTIVITY for Sigma Films / Bankside Films, to be directed by Stephan Elliot and PREMIERLAND for Star Cross Entertainment. An adaptation of Boxer Beetle by Booker Prize nominated Ned Beauman

TV series Colin has developed include: 

GASKELL’S GOTHIC TALES for Merman Films - an adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s ghost stories, and SURROGATES for Synchronicity Films – a returning conspiracy thriller set in Silicon Valley.

Colin is a returning lecturer and mentor at Screen Academy Scotland. He runs weeklong residential screenwriting workshops for The Arvon Foundation and is often a guest lecturer at several screenwriting universities.

Course Dates:

1 February 2022 - 05 July 2022 

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Home/EU/EEA £3,450

This course is only open to UK and EU/EEA applicants.

A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required against the cost of your fees on confirmation of your place.

Bursary Information

There is currently no NFTS Scotland funding available for this course.

Please read our Alternative Funding Avenues document which points you in the direction of a few places which may be able to help.

Entry requirements

We’re looking for people who are passionate about screen stories and eager to pursue or further develop a career in screenwriting. You should have a good general education, but no other specific educational requirements are needed for this course. Previous experience of writing screenplays, or knowledge gained from a University or College media course, would be advantageous, but not essential.

In addition to what we hope will be a solid portfolio of work-in-progress to polish and present to the industry, successful completion could lead to an interview for those interested in applying to the two-year MA Course in Screenwriting at the NFTS. 

If you have any questions, please email

How to apply

Application deadline: Last Few Places Available

Last Few Places: You can apply online by clicking on BEGIN YOUR APPLICATION below.

Begin your application