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Translation, as a trade and an art, plays and important part in bringing nations together, and facilitating dialogue, understanding and co-operation.

Our innovative MA is ideal for those looking to embark on, or develop, careers as professional translators. Translation practice is at the heart of the programme, and you will undertake extensive practical and specialised translation in Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Russian. The programme offers training in state-of-the-art translation technology and the opportunity to study another foreign language at beginners, intermediate or advanced level. From September 2017, we are also able to offer an optional module in English-Chinese Interpreting.

There is a range of optional modules focusing on theory and methodology, meaning that this MA also provides excellent preparation for further study at PhD level.

We also offer a distance learning programme over 2.5 years – for more information, see Translation Studies MA by distance learning.

Course details

The Translation Studies MA is a degree offered by the Department of Modern Languages. It features a balance of theory and practice which provides an ideal foundation both for careers in the translation industry or for further study in translation.

In addition to being accredited by the EMT Network, we are a member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). We are also part of the SDL University Partner Program, which allows us to allocate free SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance licenses to the top two students studying translation technology each academic year.

The programme is available to students who are proficient in English and one of the following languages: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Russian. We can accommodate all language pairs in both directions except Mandarin, where we offer English to Mandarin but not Mandarin to English.

The core programme content offers ample opportunity for translation practice. You will study four core modules:  

  • Introduction to Translation Theory 
  • Practical Translation*
  • Specialised Translation*
  • Research and Critical Commentary Skills

* Language combinations offered are as stated above

You will also choose two modules from a range of options


Most core and optional modules on this course are assessed by coursework, rather than by written examination. The exceptions are Practical Translation which is assessed by exam and English-Chinese Interpreting which features a classroom-based live interpreting test. See module descriptions for further details.

You will also complete a 15,000-word Translation Studies dissertation or an Extended Translation Project.

Learning and teaching

All of our students are offered the opportunity to work in small groups with tutors and to receive training in the use of state-of-the art translation technology.

All modules make use of our modern facilities, and teaching will take place in a lecture theatre or a computer lab. For your translation classes (Practical Translation and Specialised Translation) you will be divided into language groups – each year we can have up to ten language-specific groups. 

We also make extensive use of Canvas, the University’s virtual learning environment, and this is where you can find all material related to your studies and also contribute to online discussions. 

Course delivery

Teaching takes place over ten weeks in the Autumn Term (September-December) and ten weeks in the Spring Term (January-March) through weekly seminars.

Full-time students will take two core modules in the Autumn Term, and two core modules in the Spring Term, as follows:

  • Autumn Term: Introduction to Translation Theory; Practical Translation
  • Spring Term: Research and Critical Commentary Skills; Specialised Translation

You will then take two optional modules; one in each term. During the Summer Term, you will be working on your dissertation or extended translation project, and you will be assigned an appropriate supervisor according to your chosen topic and language pair. 

Part-time students will take three modules in year one and three modules in year two. To cater for the needs of part-time students, we make an effort to group classes on specific days of the week. There is some flexibility, but the recommended structure is as follows:

  • Autumn Term, year one: Introduction to Translation Theory and Practical Translation
  • Spring Term, year one: Research and Critical Commentary Skills or Specialised Translation
  • Autumn Term, year two: Your choice of optional module
  • Spring Term, year two: Research and Critical Commentary Skills or Specialised Translation; your choice of optional module 

During the Summer Term of year two, you will be working on your dissertation or extended translation project, and you will be assigned an appropriate supervisor according to your chosen topic and language pair. 

Learning and teaching methods

The course will: 

  • Encourage reflective practice in translation
  • Familiarise you with state-of-the-art technological tools currently used in the translation industry and with the professional environment in which translators operate
  • Provide you with the opportunity to carry out extensive practical translation work with the guidance of experienced tutors so as to develop skills in line with current professional practice
  • Enable you to develop a sophisticated understanding of the most up-to-date concepts and theories of the discipline of translation studies
  • Develop a critical understanding of the social constraints on and consequences of translation, and the differing contexts of translation throughout the world
  • Encourage an understanding of how English and other languages work and how they may usefully be analysed, in particular with reference to its grammar, lexis and discourse, and how such an analysis may benefit you as a translator
  • Provide a practical understanding of established techniques of research and enquiry used to created and interpret knowledge in the discipline, so as to enable you to undertake further research, either as part of your future professional career or by enrolling for a research degree.

Visit the Translation Studies - MA page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!






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