International Programmes 2023/2024

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 MA Serial Storytelling at the ifs is Europe’s first Master’s programme focusing on collaborative writing for series.

Focusing on both local and international series markets, this intensive two-year Master's degree programme combines story development skills, collaboration techniques ("Writers' Room"), and the innovative approach of artistic research.

Students work with highly acclaimed international guest speakers and scholars, such as Jane Espenson (Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones), Kath Lingenfelter (Westworld), Lisa Albert (Mad Men), Annette Hess (Ku’damm 56/59/63, Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo), Oliver Kienle (Bad Banks) or Jeppe Gjervig Gram (Borgen, Follow the Money).

The programme is supported by industry partners such as RTL Media Group, ZDF, SKY Deutschland, Paramount, btf bildundtonfabrik, Série Series, Series Mania, and the Film Festival Cologne.

Course organisation

The Master's programme "MA Serial Storytelling" 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, the 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. It also supports the students in exploring innovative narrative forms, work structures, and distribution channels.

With a strong focus on collaboration skills and innovative strategies, the MA Serial Storytelling programme provides aspiring series writers with exceptional learning experiences:

Relevant Skills for a Wide Range of Career Paths

  • 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

Hands-On Experience

  • developing four to five series projects with 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

Industry Insights and Networking Opportunities

  • learning from highly acclaimed international writers, producers
  • 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

Artistic Research and the Social Responsibility of the Storyteller

  • exploring philosophical and ethical topics and expanding the 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
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

Approx. 330 EUR per semester (including the ticket for local public transportation)

Costs of living

934 EUR per month

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

For financial support to cover tuition fees and/or living expenses, students can apply for an interest-free loan from the first semester (BA) or from the second semester (MA) onwards from the "Friends of the ifs Society". The approval of the interest-free loans depends on the financial situation of the applicant and the amount of funds available. Repayment of the loans begins six months after graduation or completion of studies.

For all ifs degree programmes (except the MA 3D Animation for Film and Games), the "Friends of ifs Society" awards scholarships to particularly talented students in need of financial support. The scholarships cover the tuition fees. After successfully passing the entrance exam, interested students can apply for both a scholarship and a loan.

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 a full study and professional training institution with an artistic-scientific focus serving aspiring media professionals. On 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 being 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, including a Student Academy Award.

The ifs portfolio covers Bachelor’s programmes in Creative Producing, Directing, Director of Photography, Editing Picture & Sound, Production Design, Screenwriting, and VFX & Animation, as well as Master’s programmes in 3D Animation for Film & Games, Digital Narratives, Entertainment Producing, Film and Serial Storytelling. The study programmes are carried out in cooperation with the TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences.

In addition, there are several professional training programmes for media professionals, ranging from the Non-Fiction Masterclass and the Entertainment Masterclass to the hitherto unique European Showrunner Programme.

For this reason, the organisational framework is structured on small numbers of students and a two-year admissions 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 film studies programme is thereby aligned with the principles of narrative film and storytelling. The combination of professional specialisation and interdisciplinary cooperation is characteristic for the education at the ifs. Early on, students work together with all the crafts involved in the filmmaking process, thereby generating important contacts in the industry already during their studies. Close collaboration with national and international teachers from both the industry and academia guarantees the students a first-class education, comparable to international standards.

The courage and will to promote ongoing development and change is what distinguishes the ifs. The school enjoys a constant flow of impulses and inspiration through its close collaborations in all the fields of the audiovisual landscape as well as through an ongoing critical evaluation of its study and professional training 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 filmmaking, thereby integrating new technological developments as well as promoting and conveying aesthetic and dramaturgical potential.

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

University location

Cologne (Germany), a city with a 2,000 year heritage, is a buzzing media hub. A third of Germany’s TV programmes are produced in Cologne. Key TV and radio stations, numerous renowned film and TV production companies, and more than 70 print and digital publishing companies are based in the city, drawing a creative and artistic crowd. In addition, a large and still growing number of exciting international productions are made in Cologne and North Rhine-Westphalia.

The ifs is located in Schanzenstraße in Cologne-Mülheim, which is the creative and media quarter – next door to TV production companies, studio facilities, publishing houses, a radio station and the municipal theatre.

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