NFTS Scotland: An Introduction to Adaptation Online

Short course


Delivered in the NFTS Scotland Virtual Classroom, accessed via Zoom, in partnership with NFTS Leeds and NFTS Cymru Wales

ADAPTATIONS of novels are today as crucial to the schedules of the BBC, ITV and Sky as they are to Netflix, Amazon Studios and HBO. They account for more than half of the drama output on global television, no longer depending on the works of 19th or even 20th century classic authors. A new wave of contemporary adaptations has arrived. Recent adaptations of novels such as Normal People (BBC 1), Big Little Lies (HBO), The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) and The Underground Railroad (Netflix) are creating huge new opportunities for writers and producers.

AN INTRODUCTION TO ADAPATION is a new two-week course during which participants will be taken through the process of turning a novel into a relevant drama series or screenplay for today.

During week one, after reading the first chapters of the novel, you will learn how shows like Normal People, Tales of the City, The Camomile Lawn, Killing Eve and Elizabeth is Missing became successes on the screen. Guest writers and producers from selected shows will talk about the decisions they made in development; the use or non-use of voice-over; how to deal with the narration in the novel; and where to introduce new dialogue into scenes where there is none in the book. There will also be a session on acquiring rights, approaching a producer or broadcaster with your idea for an adaptation, and the relationship with a living author.

Week two will focus on developing an actual novel, of your choice, for adaptation. It can be contemporary or classical, without having to acquire the rights. You will work on an outline and treatment for the project, with actual sample scenes written overnight and then discussed in class the following day. At the end of the course you’ll  pitch your idea to a Head of Development, and also an experienced practitioner of adapting novels for the screen.

The industry is aware that there is a need to locate and champion new talent in the art of adaptation.

The course is led by PETER ANSORGE, ex-Head of Drama at Channel 4 whose award-winning  career includes: A Very British Coup, Traffik, GBH, The Politician’s Wife, The Camomile Lawn, Dance To The Music of Time and the Peabody-winning adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Several of the scripts completed on Peter’s established  ‘Writing the Pilot’ course at NFTS Beaconsfield and NFTS Scotland are currently in development with leading UK drama independents. 

The course will also be supported by guest speakers including Academy award-winning writer, and producer, Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons, The Father, Atonement).

Current or recent tutors

Peter Ansorge

Peter Ansorge

Course Leader, TV Drama: Creating the Bible

Ex-Channel 4 Head of Drama. His commissions included A Very British Coup and Traffik 

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Freelance Rate: £1125

Corporate Rate: £2000


Bursaries, supported by the Scottish Government, are also available for those who are eligible.


A limited number of bursaries are available for all of our short courses. If you wish to apply for a bursary to contribute to the costs of your course, please read the bursary guidelines below carefully to confirm your eligibility. Please do not apply to a course unless you are sure you meet the bursary eligibility criteria, or can pay for the course by other means.

Please apply as far in advance of the course date as possible to give yourself the best chance of securing a supported place, as we may not be able to accommodate all applications. We aim to advise successful applicants no later than 10 working days prior to the course start date. 

Once you have submitted your course application, your bursary application, and supporting documents, should be submitted to

NFTS Scotland Bursary Guidelines (Word doc)

NFTS Scotland Bursary Application Form (pdf)

If you are not eligible for an NFTS Scotland bursary, please read our Alternative Funding Avenues document (pdf) which points you in the direction of a few other places which may be able to help. Please submit your application in plenty of time as timescales for funders differ. 

How to apply

Application deadline: Coming Soon

Please complete the application form to apply. You will also be asked to upload your CV.
Please also read the Terms and Conditions of booking as payment of a successful application assumes acceptance of these. 

Begin your application