Serial Storytelling

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 3.23 k / Semester(s) Deadline: Feb 28, 2024
StudyQA ranking:1430 Duration:2 years You need IELTS certificate

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The MA in Serial Storytelling at the ifs internationale filmschule köln is the first graduate degree programme of its kind.
Focusing on both local and international series markets, this intensive, two-year degree programme combines story development skills with collaboration techniques and the innovative approach of artistic research. This programme is ideal for young professionals who aspire to make story development for series projects in a variety of forms and platforms their professional goal. It is the new vision of young professionals like our students that is driving revolutionary change in the industry today.

In a curriculum equally balanced between theory and practice, a selected group of max. 16 international students explore traditional, current, and future ways of serial storytelling. Prospective students may apply for one of two tracks: either to study and write in English for international audiences (international track), or in German with a focus on German-language series markets (German track). Over the course of two years, the groups will join together for English language case studies and most seminars, but for more elaborate writing projects they will split in two "tracks", with approx. eight students each.

This unique combination of local and international qualities, combined with a strong focus on collaboration skills and innovative strategies will provide the students with the following exceptional learning experiences:
  • Acquire a wide-ranging skill set that combines the tools of professional screenwriters and an in-depth knowledge of creative teamwork
  • Master models and methods of serial storytelling formats
  • Learn to create fascinating characters, lively ensembles, surprising plots, and sustainable concepts
  • Gain hands-on experience in collaborative as well as individual screenwriting, including the creation of a drama series within a writers' room led by an expert professional showrunner
  • Develop four to five serial storytelling projects in different formats over four semesters
  • Meet and work with highly acclaimed international writers, producers, showrunners and executives such as Lisa Albert (Mad Men), Jane Espenson (Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones), Hagai Levi (In Treatment, The Affair), Jeppe Gjervig Gram (Borgen, Follow the Money), Peter Naderman (The Team), Morgan Gendel (The 100), Anna & Jörg Winner (Deutschland '83), and Frank Spotnitz (X-Files, The Man in the High Castle)
  • Enjoy privileged networking opportunities, e.g., at international series festivals such as Séries Series in Fontainebleau
  • Gain professional work experience as a participant in co-operations with German and international broadcasters and festivals (e.g., RTL, ZDF, Sky Germany, Film Festival Cologne)
  • Explore philosophical and ethical topics and expand your knowledge of serial storytelling in academic as well as artistic research projects
  • Experience Cologne's diverse production community as a centre for TV production, software development, web companies, and high-tech video gaming
  • Obtain a skill set that is directly applicable to a wide range of career paths involving story development

Educational organisation

Degree Structure

Introduction to Serial Storytelling (Semester 1)
  • Ideation
  • Writing Project: Web Series

Story Development and Series Markets (Semesters 1-2)
  • Domestic and International Series Markets incl. field trip to MIPTV in Cannes
  • Series Analysis: Case Studies
  • Series Dramaturgy I & II
  • Character and Genre
  • Writing Project: Spec Script
  • Calculation

Media Studies (Semesters 1-2)
  • Comparative Media Studies: Networks
  • Series History and Analysis

Collaboration: Writers' Room (Semester 2)
  • Collaboration: Models and Techniques
  • Writing Project: Writers' Room

New Forms of Serial Storytelling I (Semester 2)
  • Today's and Future Serial Formats
  • Research Project I

New Forms of Serial Storytelling II (Semester 3)
  • Research Project II
  • Storytelling in the Expanded Field

Writers' Lab (Semester 3)
  • Genre
  • Writing Project: Writers' Lab
  • Pitching and Presentation

Master's Project I (Semester 3)
  • Advanced Character Development
  • Sequence Structure
  • Writing Project: Master's (Part I)

Master's Project II (Semester 4)
  • Writing Project: Master's (Part II)
  • Colloquium

Attendance runs for 11 weeks each semester for the first three semesters. During the fourth semester, students will focus on their Master's thesis, which is why attendance in Cologne will be required only for the colloquium and the final presentations (approx. six weeks).

Language requirements

Applicants need to provide proof of their English language skills at B2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, e.g., by a TOEFL score of 87 points (internet-based) or equivalent test results. Native English speakers are exempted from this requirement. In addition, all applicants have to demonstrate the appropriate level of English during the selection process (interviews and writing assignments).

Applicants only need to speak German if they apply for the "German track".

Academic requirements

To obtain a Master's degree, applicants must have an undergraduate degree (Bachelor's degree or equivalent) with a minimum of 180 ECTS credits or a higher degree (e.g., a German "Magister" or "Diplom") from an accredited university, and must have worked in the field of media production for at least one year. The ifs welcomes applicants who have received degrees in unrelated fields, providing that they show proof of substantial writing experience. In addition, applicants must provide proof of their English language skills. German language skills are only required for students in the German track.

Enrolment fees

One-time registration fee: 400 EUR

Costs of living

Approx. 800 EUR per month to cover personal expenses

Funding opportunities within the university

For financial assistance to cover tuition fees and/or living expenses, first-semester students may apply for an interest-free loan from "The Friends of the ifs international filmschule köln Society". Approval of the interest-free loans depends on the funds available as well as on the applicant's financial situation. Repayment of the loan begins six months after graduation/termination of studies.
"The Friends of the ifs internationale filmschule köln Society" also offers second-semester students two scholarships for outstanding academic achievement (one scholarship for each "track"). These scholarships run until the end of the Master's programme. They cover the tuition fees as well as an additional monthly allowance of up to 500 EUR to cover living expenses (up to a total of 9,000 EUR), paid throughout the course of studies until completion of the Master's programme.
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