MFA (Writing for Performance)


Applications to study MFA (Writing for Performance) at NIDA in 2022 are now closed.


NIDA encourages applications from candidates from diverse backgrounds, with different types of experiences across the various art forms, film, television or other areas, as well as in cultural development, policy and management.

NIDA welcomes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants.

About the course

This is a writing course for people who have already decided to call themselves writers and who see this as their primary calling.

While craft skills are important, more significant is the challenge of writing itself and the necessity of having something to say. It is the focus of these two major areas of writing, as well as the nurturing of creativity, that makes this course unique in Australia, and one of the few such courses in the world.

Students will have the opportunity to work in fields as diverse as film, gaming and digital media while writing their major work.  Excerpts of this work will be presented at the end of the year, with the writers themselves directing actors in a rehearsed reading for a public audience.

Applicants should note that the course may involve some interstate travel and will include an international learning experience. These experiences are developed in response to the travel restrictions at the time.  Previous field trips and learning experiences include theatre companies, TV channels and festivals in Sydney, Adelaide Festival and Fringe Festival, the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts Brisbane, Perth International Arts Festival, London performing arts industry experiences and the Edinburgh Festival.

Read more about Stephen Sewell, Head of Writing for Performance, Course Leader.

Course structure

The duration of the Master of Fine Arts is 15 months and comprises six subjects with a total of 180 credit points, with a lead subject (60 credit points) which is the focal point.

The first year (from the end of January to the beginning of December) is spent at NIDA’s Sydney campus. In the final three months (January to March of the following year), students complete their research project and write up the results as a journal article. It is normally not essential that students be resident in Sydney during the final three months of the course but some attendance in Sydney may be required during this period.

Course dates

Course duration and contact hours

Students are at NIDA from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. During production terms students may also be required for rehearsals after hours and on weekends.

Additional time also needs to be allocated to library work, research, preparation for classes and private study. For this reason it is difficult for NIDA students to maintain regular part-time jobs. Studying at NIDA is a big commitment so students need to manage their time and resources carefully. 

All NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees are three-year full-time courses. All NIDA Master of Fine Arts courses, except for Cultural Leadership, are 15-month full-time courses. 

Course dates


Course overview


In brief
  • Writing for performance techniques
  • Exploration of a wide range of literature genres
  • Techniques to overcome blocks and difficulties in the writing process
  • Writing for emerging technologies
  • Understanding individual perspective within the wider cultural context
Delivery mode
  • Classes

Writing with Purpose (60 credit points)

WFP9101 Writing with Purpose is the primary subject of the Writing for Performance course, and directs and supports students’ development as writers, be that in the genre of playwriting, writing for screen or radio, or writing for other kinds of performance, including gaming. Students explore the key techniques of writing for performance including dramatic structure, dialogue and characterisation. Each student identifies and defines a specific writing project aligned to his or her interests and ambitions, and is encouraged to demonstrate conceptual innovation, develop creative strategies within a broad contextual awareness of technological, social, cultural and economic change, and create and present new work within an appropriate public performance context. Each is encouraged to find and refine his or her individual voice.
Through strategic and consistent feedback, students learn to be constructively and productively reflective and self-critical, and develop skills and techniques for assimilating feedback into progressive drafts leading to the output of a complete cohesive work. Excerpts of this work are then presented at the end of the year in a rehearsed reading

Re-Reading the World (30 credit points)

WFP9102 Re-Reading the World is the key support subject and introduces students to a wide range of literature from many genres. It addresses a series of topics, explored in the form of lectures and seminars, on such subjects as Lacanian psychiatry and the contemporary philosophies of Salvoj Zizek, Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze, with the aim being to encourage critical thinking and re-examination of old assumptions. Intellectually demanding, the purpose of this subject is to stimulate debate and interest in the wider cultural field.

The Radical Imagination (15 credit points)

The Radical Imagination focuses on creativity and personal insight including how to overcome blocks and difficulties in the process of writing. Students develop practical skills and an understanding of techniques to overcome these blocks as well as an understanding of the creative process and its relationship with personal psychology. Each student writes up observations of their own creative process in a reflective journal. This subject encourages students to develop a global perspective on the impact of the writer as an artist through engagement with national and international symposia, festivals and live, screen-based and online arts experiences.

The Future is Now (30 credit points)

WFP9104 The Future is Now - New Technologies, New Opportunities looks at writing for emerging technologies. The subject explores the possibilities of translating a theatrical idea into alternative mediums, and rethinks traditional theatre ideas of performance within the context of the digital revolution. Each student will complete a short work in a new genre. This subject will enhance the students’ abilities to engage with a range of contemporary practices and evolving forms of the digital age, including digital gaming. The subject also includes interdisciplinary collaboration projects which include: a short video ‘rough cut’ project which provides the fundamental hands-on experience and preparation in order to create a short film in collaboration with second year Properties and Object students as part of the ‘Scripted Space’ project.

Contextualising Practice (15 credit points)

This subject develops each student’s understanding of their site of cultural endeavour within the framework of a wider field of contemporary cultural enterprise. The subject is designed to facilitate engagement by arts practitioners as well as producers, executives and managers, with a view to contextualising the practice of a range of creative and cultural professionals.

The subject begins by introducing critical analysis as a means of contextualizing the work of others. The remainder of the subject is divided into modules that explore the processes of creativity and collaboration that underpin diverse arts practices.

Generating Research through Practice (30 credit points)

This subject introduces students to the concepts and methods of practice-based research as these apply to the exploration and investigation of the arts.

Initially students are introduced to the concept of research and to research skills and related issues, including ethics, as these apply to practice-based research. Subsequently, students identify their research topic and design the research project, undertake investigation and gather data, and process the data and other findings. The subject culminates in the writing of a journal article as the final research output. Journal articles arising from this subject are posted to an internally accessible research journal. Students whose journal articles are assessed as outstanding are encouraged and supported to submit them to externally published journals.

Admission criteria

Admission criteria

  • All applicants applying for a graduate course at NIDA must have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area) or have five years relevant experience in a related area.
  • Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0.  Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at

Essential requirements

We select applicants who demonstrate commitment, capacity and willingness to advance their practice by:

  1. Working creatively
  2. Collaborating as part of a creative team
  3. Demonstrating a range of relevant skills and technical abilities
  4. Providing evidence of intellectual enquiry and reflection within their work
  5. Communicating clearly
  • All applicants applying for the graduate courses at NIDA must have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area) or have at least five years relevant experience in a related area.
  • Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0.  Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at

How to apply

Application process

Application to NIDA is by direct entry. Applicants apply online via the NIDA website.

Entry to the MFA (Writing for Performance) is by interview. See below for details on how to prepare.

Information on how to apply for the 2023 intake will be available from mid-2022.

How to apply

NIDA uses direct application to the provider via the NIDA website

View MFA (Writing for Performance) application guide

Interview dates

2021 interview dates for the 2022 intake will be announced in July 2021.

Your interview

What to prepare


The application process for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance) consists of two rounds:

  • Round One – Online Application, including CV and Portfolio (due 31 August 2021, 11.59pm AEST)
  • Round Two – Interview.

Only applicants who are successful in Round One will be invited to interview.

The following should be uploaded with your application:


You should upload a detailed CV highlighting your education and training, professional work and other relevant information.


You will need to provide proof of your university degree/s or five years of professional experience in a relevant area. This can be a scan/photograph of your transcript or testamur from the awarding institution.


You should prepare examples of past work that you feel will support your application and demonstrate your suitability for a career in writing for performance, and the arts and entertainment industry

  • Prepare your three best pieces of creative writing.
  • They do not have to be plays or scripts for actors, but at least one piece should display dramatic qualities.
  • At least one piece should contain a sample of dialogue.
  • Each extract or example should be no more than 2000 words.
  • Please merge your three pieces into ONE document, and upload as part of your application.


NIDA recognises that interviews can be stressful, but every effort will be made to ensure your experience will be as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. Remember, the more time and effort you put into your application in advance, the better prepared you will be and the more you will benefit from the interview and discussion.

The interview process is friendly, informal and open, and is designed to give you the very best opportunity to indicate your potential and readiness to study at NIDA. However, should you have any concerns with the interview process or with what is said to you during the course of the interview, please express your concern immediately, or talk it over with a member of the interview panel before you leave.

What to expect on the day

Interviews are generally conducted by two NIDA staff members, and will take place via Zoom.

Interviews will run for approximately 40 minutes. The interview is in two parts:

  • First, there will be a brief talk about NIDA, the MFA (Writing for Performance) course and what will happen during the interview. There will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about NIDA or about the interview itself.
  • Each applicant will then be interviewed for around 30 minutes. During the interview, we will discuss your portfolio; your ideas about theatre, film and television; your worldview, concerns, ambitions, creative process experience, and why you want to study Writing for Performance at NIDA.

Interview tips

  • Preparation! The more time and effort you put into the project and interview preparation in advance, the more confident you’ll be and the more you will benefit from the interview and discussion.
  • Come with a clear idea of why you want to study Writing for Performance at NIDA.
  • Plan your journey to the interview. Give yourself plenty of travel time to allow for delays.
  • We know that interviews can be stressful, but every effort will be made to ensure your experience will be as interesting and enjoyable as possible. The interview is designed to give you the very best opportunity to show your potential and readiness to study at NIDA.

The Writing portfolio

Writing portfolio requirements

You should prepare examples of past work that you feel will support your application and demonstrate your suitability for a career in writing for performance, and the arts and entertainment industry

  • Prepare your three best pieces of creative writing.
  • They do not have to be plays or scripts for actors, but at least one piece should display dramatic qualities.
  • At least one piece should contain a sample of dialogue.
  • Each extract or example should be no more than 2000 words.
  • Please merge your three pieces into ONE document, and upload as part of your application.


Tuition fees

Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date each semester.

Domestic Students

Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.

Prospective Students: Download the Domestic Graduate Student Fee Schedule 2022.

Current Students: Download the Domestic Graduate Student Fee Schedule 2021.

International Students

Fees and financial assistance vary for international students see International Students for full details.

Domestic tuition fees overview

DegreeCourse duration2022 Annual tuition fee $AUD*Estimated course tuition fee*
Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance)15 monthsN/A$32,220.00

Domestic tuition fee details

Subject codeSubjectCredit pointsEFTSL**Tuition fee*
WFP9101Writing with Purpose600.418$10,740.00
WFP9102Rereading the World300.208$5,370.00
WFP9103The Radical Imagination150.104$2,685.00
WFP9104The Future is Now300.208$5,370.00
COM9101Contextualising Practice150.104$2,685.00
COM9102Generating Research Through Practice300.208$5,370.00
Total 1801.25$32,220.00

*The tuition fees are reviewed each year and you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolment.

** EFTSL - Effective Fulltime Study Load: indicates the relative study load of a subject against a full time study load of 1.0 for academic year.

Administration fees

Administration and Other Fees 2022

These fees are payable at the time the service is provided or item purchased.

Item/ServiceDetail2022 Cost
Binding supplies1 comb,1 cover, 1 back$2
GraduationAcademic Dress Hire (gown, hood, cap), and two guests$38
Tickets for additional guests$20 per person
Student ID Card replacementReplacement of a lost student card$25
PhotocopyingB/W – single sided$0.05
B/W – double sided$0.10
Colour – single sided$0.10
Colour – double sided$0.20
Locker keyDeposit$25
Replacement of lost locker key$25
Testamur replacement1 testamur – domestic postage$80
1 testamur – standard international postage$90
Transcript replacement1 transcript – domestic postage$25
1 transcript – standard international postage$35

Additional costs

Information Technology Recommendations

To access NIDA wireless (iWIRE) network, students are required to have access to a Laptop (Windows 7 and later), Macbook (Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later) or a Tablet (less than three years old with wireless facility). All the devices should comply with 802.11a/b/g/n WPA-Enterprise security. All notebooks should be secured with a Kensington lock to help prevent theft.

For file transfers and data backup, a 500GB hard drive or higher and an 8GB USB stick are also recommended, as is a DVD burner, for optimum visual graphics on your computer(Laptop/MacBook/Desktop etc.) a 1GB dedicated graphics card is recommended but not required. 


Australian citizens and holders of permanent humanitarian visas are eligible for an Australian Government FEE-HELP loan for all or part of their tuition fees. For more information about FEE-HELP please read the information below and visit Study Assist.

FEE-HELP is the Australian Government loan scheme that assists eligible students to pay their tuition fees, so that students do not have to pay tuition fees up-front. FEE-HELP can cover all or part of a student's tuition fees. In 2019, the FEE-HELP limit is $104,440 for most students.

The government pays the amount of the loan directly to NIDA. Students repay their loan through the tax system once their incomes rises above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.

For more information go to

Who is eligible for FEE-HELP?

You are eligible for a FEE-HELP loan if you are either:

  • an Australian Citizen; or
  • hold a permanent humanitarian visa.

The following students are NOT eligible for FEE-HELP:

  • New Zealand citizens - refer to the Study Assist website
  • Australian permanent residents
  • Overseas students.


Entry requirements FAQs

Entry requirements for each course are available under the ‘Interviews and how to apply’ tab on individual course pages.

Is there a maximum age restriction for students?

There is no maximum age restriction for any NIDA undergraduate or graduate course.

Application FAQs

How do I apply for a full-time course at NIDA?

The first step is to fill in an application form, available online from June 2021. You must then prepare for your audition or interview, the details of which can be found on the course pages.

Can I apply for more than one course?

Yes, however a separate online application form will be required for each course you would like to apply for.

My application form isn’t working/loading!

Online applications are open from June annually.

If you are having difficulty using the online application form, check your internet browser: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari are the recommended browsers. You should also turn off any security that blocks pop-ups, as this may prevent the application screen from opening.

What do I do if I haven’t received details of my interview?

Once you have submitted your application and paid your application fee you will be emailed a receipt as well as further details regarding preparation for your audition/ interview. If you do not receive any emails from NIDA please check your junk/ spam filter or promotions filter (Gmail). If you are still experiencing difficulties please contact us at:

Interview FAQs

What do I need to prepare for my interview?

All the details for interview requirements can be found on the individual course pages under the ‘Interviews and how to apply’ tab.

Does NIDA give audition/ interview feedback?

Due to the large number of people being auditioned/ interviewed, it is not possible for NIDA to provide individual feedback, either orally or in writing. However, the audition/ interview are learning experiences, particularly through the opportunity in the auditions to observe the presentation of audition pieces by other applicants and any redirection suggestions provided to you or other applicants by members of the audition panel.

Where will my interview take place?

Interview conditions will depend on your course. They may be in-person or over Zoom, in which case a Zoom link will be provided to you prior to your interview.

What happens after my interview?

Final selections are made for each course by mid-December when study offers will be distributed to successful applicants via email.

Please note applicants who do not make it through to the recall stage for Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) and Master of Fine Arts (Directing) courses have not been successful for the 2022 intake.

Studying at NIDA FAQs

How are NIDA’s courses structured?

NIDA offers a conservatoire based method of education and training based around intensive practice-based learning.

There is formal class work, practical instruction, lectures and, for some courses, periods of placements in the arts industry. Each course has dedicated time to discipline-specific immersion, as well as common subjects undertaken by students of all disciplines.

NIDA Play Productions and screen work provides practical learning experiences, giving students the opportunity to apply learnt technical skills. Play productions are an important part of NIDA’s higher education courses with usually five productions being produced each semester.

More detailed information about course structure can be found on the individual course pages. 

What facilities does NIDA offer?

NIDA’s award winning campus includes a range of facilities available to students:

  • the Parade Theatre, seating over 700 people, is equipped with advanced technology in sound, lighting and scenery
  • performance spaces of varying sizes. The Parade Studio, Parade Playhouse, Parade Space and Atrium are also utilised for productions
  • the state-of-the-art Reg Grundy Studio is used for film and television recording
  • the Rodney Seaborn Library, specialising in the performing arts
  • computer-aided design (CAD) and multimedia studios
  • rehearsal rooms, teaching spaces and music practice rooms
  • and workshops for the manufacture of scenery, properties and costumes.

Does NIDA offer credit transfer for study undertaken elsewhere?

Yes, NIDA grants credit for formal study undertaken in recognised higher institutions in Australia, including universities, colleges, TAFE and other post-secondary education institutions and for study at recognised overseas institutions, where the applicant has met the learning outcomes, attained the knowledge and/or developed the skills relevant to a specific subject. An application for credit must be submitted and approved prior to commencement of the course. For further information see NIDA’s credit transfer policy.

NIDA Student policies FAQs

Can I defer my studies at NIDA?

Due to the highly competitive nature of NIDA’s admissions process, you must enrol for the year for which you have been offered a place. You cannot defer acceptance of a place. If you want to enrol in a subsequent year, you will need to apply again the following year and go through the interview process again. There is no guarantee that you will be offered a place next time.

Application for leave of absence by continuing students must be made in writing with reasons to the Head of Course for consideration and recommendation to the Director/CEO. Approval for leave of absence can only be granted by the Director/CEO and only under exceptional circumstances.

Can students be suspended from NIDA?

In addition to cancellation of enrolment for non-payment of tuition fees, a student’s enrolment at NIDA can be suspended or cancelled on the grounds of misconduct.

See NIDA student policies for more information. 

Fees FAQs

What are the tuition fees for accredited courses?

Full information about tuition fees and FEE-HELP is available under the ‘Fees’ tab on individual course pages. 

Financial assistance FAQs

Are there scholarships available for studying at NIDA?

NIDA is pleased that through the generosity of the Luminis Foundation, we are able to offer the Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship in Cultural Leadership at annual intake. This Fellowship will support the successful applicant by funding 50% of their Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership only) course fee.

NIDA does not offer other scholarships that cover the cost of tuition fees.

NIDA students, who are Australian citizens, are able to access FEE-HELP loans for assistance with their tuition fees. For more information on FEE-HELP loans see or the ‘Fees’ tab on individual course pages.

Is financial assistance available for Master of Fine Arts students?

The Master of Fine Arts courses are not approved courses for students to receive Austudy, Youth Allowance (student) and Pensioner Education Supplement through Centrelink. Master of Fine Arts students enrolled in a full-time course are eligible to apply for a NIDA scholarship.

NIDA offers full-time students the opportunity to apply for financial assistance (scholarships) at the beginning of each year to assist with living costs. The bursaries are made available through the generosity of donors to NIDA and from bequests. Bursaries are paid on a fortnightly basis during the NIDA year, with the value of individual bursaries in 2019 ranging from $1,600 annually to $4,000 annually, depending on need and the year and course of study. Bursaries are only available to students currently enrolled at NIDA in full-time courses.

NZ and international students FAQs

Is there a limit on the number of international students accepted each year?

NIDA welcomes applications from international students. While there is no quota for international students, there are limited numbers of students in each course.

What are the English language requirements for international students?

Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0 for Acting, Directing and Writing for Performance, or IELTS 7.0 for other higher education courses. Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at

International applicants who are short-listed for the Acting course after the recall audition must provide evidence of their English language capability by the end of the first week in December in order to be considered in the final selection process. International applications for other courses should bring evidence of their English language capability to their interview.

Where can I find more information about international students at NIDA?

More information about studying as an international student at NIDA can be found at International students


2021 Online Info Sessions

Head of Writing for Performance, Dr Stephen Sewell, and a current student offer insights into the thrilling and deeply personal journey that is the Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance), focusing on critical thinking and the techniques to access and unleash your creativity. They also answer questions about the course.

19 August 2021

2020 Readings

Every year, MFA (Writing for Performance) students stage readings of their works in progress.


Our graduates may be employed as playwrights and as writers for other performance genres, including film, TV, radio and digital media. As writing for performance is normally a freelance occupation, students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to access and navigate a rapidly changing landscape of contemporary textual practices.

  • Playwright
  • Screenwriter
  • Scriptwriter
  • Writer in other performance genres

See NIDA's list of Alumni.

Further info

For more info, check the course guide.

If you have any further questions about the application process, please contact:


Phone: +61 (02) 9697 7614
+61 (02) 9697 7611
+61 (02) 9697 7654


215 Anzac Parade
Kensington NSW 2033

Further information:

NIDA Undergraduate and Graduate policies and procedures
Commonwealth Register
National Register of Higher Education Providers

Course Accreditation

NIDA’S Registration Status

Registered as a Higher Education Provider by TEQSA

Registration Renewal Date

25 June 2025

CRICOS Registration

Code: 00756M

This allows NIDA to enrol international students on student visas into CRICOS approved courses.

Self Accrediting Authority*

Yes – partial self accrediting

Registered Higher Education providers may be authorised by TEQSA to self-accredit courses of study.

Course nameStatusCRICOS Code

Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance)

Self-Accredited by NIDA under TEQSA’s determination
of Self Accrediting Authority for NIDA


Read more about NIDA's Head of Writing for Performance, Course Leader Stephen Sewell

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