International Programmes 2022/2023

MA Serial Storytelling MA Serial Storytelling

ifs Internationale Filmschule Köln • Köln

Master of Arts (MA)
In cooperation with

TH Köln (University of Applied Sciences)

Teaching language
  • English

Prospective students may apply for one of two tracks: an international track or a German-language track. The majority of classes and projects are held in English for the entire group. However, for more elaborate writing projects and for classes geared to specific series markets (international or German-language series markets), students may split into two tracks.

Programme duration
4 semesters
Winter semester
Application deadline

More information:

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
3,750 EUR
Additional information on tuition fees

Tuition fee for EU students: 2,750 EUR per semester (including study funds)
Tuition fee for non-EU students: 3,750 EUR per semester (including study funds)

One-time registration fee for all students: 400 EUR

Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

The "Serial Storytelling" Master’s programme guides young professionals in exploring, conquering, and expanding forms and methods of serial narration for TV and digital platforms. Accompanied by renowned series creators, script consultants, and media scholars, students analyse the secrets behind the success of popular series and develop their own innovative series concepts. Series dramaturgy, character development, and collaborative writing processes ("Writers’ Room") are at the centre of their practical work. In addition to narrative and media-theoretical content, the programme conveys the basics of transnational markets and new media platforms, and it supports students in exploring innovative narrative forms, work structures, and distribution channels. For their major writing assignments, students have the opportunity to write either in English or in German, focusing on international or German series markets respectively.

Students work with highly acclaimed international guest speakers and scholars, such as Jane Espenson ("Battlestar Gallactica", "Game of Thrones"), Kath Lingenfelter ("Westworld"), Lisa Albert ("Mad Men"), Annette Hess ("Ku’damm 56/69/63"), Oliver Kienle ("Bad Banks") or Jeppe Gjervig Gram ("Borgen"). The programme is supported by a number of industry partners, e.g. RTL, TVNOW, ZDF, SKY Deutschland, Série Series, Series Mania, and the Film Festival Cologne.

This unique combination of local and international qualities, combined with a strong focus on collaboration skills and innovative strategies provides aspiring series writers with exceptional learning experiences:

  • Acquiring a wide-ranging skill set that combines the tools of professional screenwriters and an in-depth knowledge of creative teamwork
  • Mastering models and methods of serial storytelling formats
  • Developing four to five series projects in different formats over four semesters
  • Creating fascinating characters, compelling ensembles, surprising plots, and sustainable concepts
  • Mastering key soft skills such as pitching, networking and negotiating
  • Gaining hands-on experience in collaborative as well as individual screenwriting, including the creation of a complete drama series within a writers’ room led by an expert professional showrunner
  • Enjoying privileged networking and pitching opportunities, e.g. at international series festivals such as Seriencamp Munich, Série Series in Fontainebleau, or Series Mania in Lille
  • Exploring philosophical and ethical topics and expanding their knowledge of serial storytelling in academic as well as artistic research projects
  • Discussing pressing social issues as well as current trends and visions of future series markets, formats and ways of distribution with acclaimed experts from various fields
  • Transforming these findings into exciting, innovative, and relevant serial narratives.
Course organisation


Introduction to Serial Storytelling (Semester 1)

  • Creative Ideation and Collaboration Techniques
  • Social Responsibility in Storytelling I
  • Constructing a Series
  • Text Formats / Series Formats
  • Web Series Project
  • Pitching

Series Dramaturgy (Semesters 1 & 2)

  • Premise & Theme
  • Character Development
  • Structure: Sequences, Episodes, Seasons
  • Scene Writing
  • Series Analysis & Case Studies I

Spec Script (Semesters 1 & 2)

  • Spec Script I – Daily Drama
  • Spec Script II – Drama Series: Analysis
  • Spec Script II – Drama Series: Story Development

Series Markets (Semesters 1 & 2)

  • Series Markets I – Home Markets
  • Series Markets II & III – Festivals
  • European Co-Productions
  • Selling Documents
  • Legal & Business Issues

Media Studies (Semesters 1 & 2)

  • Storytelling Theory
  • Series History
  • Comparative Media Studies

Writers' Room (Semester 2)

  • Producing
  • Character Development II
  • Social Responsibility in Storytelling II
  • Writers' Room Project
  • Pitch Training

Research I (Semester 2)

  • Academic Writing
  • Today's and Future Series Formats I
  • Research Project (Part I) 1/2


Research II (Semester 3)

  • Research Project (Part II)
  • Today's and Future Series Formats (II)

Writers’ Lab (Semester 3)

  • Writers' Lab I – Introduction
  • Writers' Lab I – Project
  • Writers' Lab II – Introduction
  • Writers' Lab II – Project

Master's Project – Preparation (Semester 3)

  • Case Studies II
  • Working in the Industry
  • Master's Project I

Master’s Project and Colloquium (Semester 4)

  • Master's Project II
  • Colloquium
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A Diploma supplement will be issued
International elements
  • International guest lecturers
Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
3,750 EUR
Additional information on tuition fees

Tuition fee for EU students: 2,750 EUR per semester (including study funds)
Tuition fee for non-EU students: 3,750 EUR per semester (including study funds)

One-time registration fee for all students: 400 EUR

Semester contribution

285.40 EUR per semester (including the ticket for local public transportation)

Costs of living

853 EUR per month

Funding opportunities within the university
Description of the above-mentioned funding opportunities within the university

For financial assistance to cover tuition fees and/or living expenses, students may apply for an interest-free loan from the Student Education Fund from the first semester onward, which is run by "The Friends of the ifs Internationale Filmschule Köln Society". Approval of the interest-free loans is based on the applicant’s financial situation and the funds available. Repayment of the loans begins six months after graduation/termination of studies. "The Friends of the ifs Internationale Filmschule Köln Society" offers scholarships for Master’s students, honouring outstanding academic achievement. One tuition fee scholarship may be awarded for a period of three semesters for the Serial Storytelling MA programme.

Academic admission 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 talented applicants who have received degrees in unrelated fields. In addition, applicants need to provide proof of adequate English language skills (see below) as well as basic training in screenwriting and dramaturgy. The latter may be acquired by enrolling in an ifs summer school before the start of the programme.

In justified exceptional cases, applicants with exceptional artistic skills whose CVs lack one or more of these formal requirements may request to enrol in the programme as advanced training participants.

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 72 points (Internet-based) or equivalent test results. Native English speakers are exempted from this, as are applicants holding an English high school diploma or an English academic degree. In addition, all applicants have to demonstrate the appropriate level of English during the selection process (interviews and writing assignments).

German language skills are only required for students in the German track.

Application deadline

More information:

Submit application to

Applicants should submit their applications via e-mail to:

You can find additional information about the programme at:

Support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Tutors
General services and support for international students and doctoral candidates

The students are professionally supervised by two professors, numerous guest lecturers and members of the faculty. Tutors assist them in their study projects. In addition, students also receive support from the administration.

ifs Internationale Filmschule Köln

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ifs Internationale Filmschule Köln © ifs

The ifs ("Internationale Filmschule Köln") is an institution that includes both initial training and continuing education with an artistic-scientific focus serving aspiring media professionals.

As a result of the initiative of the NRW state government and the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, the school was founded in 2000 as a non-profit company. The Film- und Medienstiftung is the sole principal partner of the ifs. The ifs is consistently ranked as one of the best film schools in Germany, based on its outstanding student support, excellent teaching and project work, and active festival participation. It even won a Student Academy Award in 2012.

The portfolio of the ifs covers the following Bachelor’s programmes: Screenwriting, Directing, Creative Producing, Director of Photography, Editing Picture & Sound, VFX & Animation, and Production Design. The international Master’s programmes include: Serial Storytelling, Digital Narratives, 3D Animation for Film & Games, and Entertainment Producing as well as Film. The study programmes are carried out in cooperation with the TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences. In addition, there are several continuing education programmes for media professionals ranging from Acting to Masterclass Non-Fiction.

Individual and intensive supervision is the core focus of the initial training and continuing education programmes at the ifs. For this reason, the organisational framework is structured on a small number of students and a two-year admission cycle to the programmes. The education and training is focused on combining a foundation of scientific-theoretical and technical skills with artistic hands-on project work. The combination of professional specialisation and interdisciplinary cooperation is characteristic of the education at the ifs. Close collaboration with national and international teachers from both the industry and academia guarantees the students a first-class education.

The courage and resolve to promote ongoing development and change is what distinguishes the ifs from other schools. The school enjoys a constant flow of impulses and inspiration through its close collaborations in all of the fields of the audiovisual landscape and through its ongoing critical evaluation of its initial training and continuing education programmes. The primary focus lies on the media developments and innovations of the future. The ifs offers its students an innovative media education that imparts the artistic and technical skills and foundation for professional film making. Thereby, it integrates new technological developments. It thus also promotes and conveys aesthetic and potential for dramatisation.

The school is a member of CILECT and the International Association of Film and Television Schools. It cultivates partnerships with a global network of film schools and universities.

University location


Germany is one of the most popular destinations for international students. It is not only an attractive place to study; a German university degree is also highly valued by employers worldwide. Students in Germany benefit from a world-class education system.

Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. Science and research have a long tradition in Germany and are highly valued.

Germany has been an immigration country since the 1960s – we are open-minded and tolerant. Over 80 million people live here – more than in any other country in the European Union (EU).

Germany is one of the founding states of the EU and supports the growing integration and closer union between the European states.

Germany is a safe country, also by international standards. And it can also look back on a long and famous tradition of higher education. Compared with other countries, the tuition fees at German universities are not very high, and the cost of living is at the EU average. Students also enjoy a lot of reduced prices, for example at theatres, museums, opera houses, cinemas, swimming pools and other facilities.

Germany is located in the heart of Europe. From here you can also easily explore its European neighbours.

German is one of the ten most widely spoken languages in the world and there are many ways to learn German, be it through a course or with German flatmates.


Its metropolitan vibe, diverse student scene and a cityscape abound with cultural and historical treasures make Cologne one of Europe’s prime university cities.

Cologne’s origins date back to the heyday of the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago. The former settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium soon flourished into a major trading hub.

Today, Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city with a population of slightly more than one million and has evolved as a main economic and cultural centre at the heart of Europe.

The city’s characteristic landmark and source of pride for every Colognian is without a doubt the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, locally known as the Kölner Dom. Towering over the quaint Old Town of Cologne at 156 meters, this masterpiece of Gothic architecture is the world’s third-highest cathedral and boasts around six million visitors a year, making it Germany’s most popular tourist attraction.

However, Cologne is by no means all about its cathedral. It has plenty more charms to offer – more than 40 world-famous museums, 120 art galleries, the Cologne Opera, a vibrant theatre scene, a plethora of concerts and musicals as well as a city-wide passion for sports all testify to Cologne’s reputation as an international art and cultural metropolis. Visitors from all over the world are bound to feel at home immediately, as Cologne is a true melting pot of cultures. Close to one-fifth of its inhabitants have an international background!

Cologne’s economy is characterised by its amalgamation of different industries and trades. Home to the country’s most influential television and radio stations, Cologne is unquestionably Germany’s media capital and plays host to some of the continent’s biggest trade fairs. Quite a few of the world’s most renowned enterprises call the metropolitan region their home, in particular corporations operating in the automotive industry, biotechnology and life sciences, chemicals and pharmaceuticals as well as commerce and banking.