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Audiovisual Translation and Popular Culture - MA

Course Description

This is the only degree which offers students the opportunity to specialise as a translation expert in audiovisual translation and in the translation of popular culture.

Who is it for?

This course is for you if you:
-Are interested in popular culture, films, TV, literature, comics or graphic novels
-Love languages, other cultures and their differences
-Are interested in translation and want to learn about systematic decision-making
-Know about translation and want to specialise
-Have an amateur or fan background in translation and want to become a professional
-Have studied foreign languages, linguistics, literature, media, film, theatre, drama or cultural studies.
-Are looking for a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of translation.
-Want to gain an insight into professional practice in audiovisual translation or in literary translation.

The course aims to make students fit for the market as properly trained and highly qualified translation experts.


This course:
-Provides you with training in audiovisual translation techniques.
-Uses industry-standard software for subtitling, dubbing and voice over.
-Specialises in the translation of children’s literature; crime fiction; science fiction and fantasy; comics, graphic novels, manga and video games.
-Introduces you to the different conventions and styles associated with popular culture in its varied forms and genres.
-Focuses on the specifics of genre translation and how these shape translation decisions.
-Provides a theoretical framework for the practical application of translation, working with a wide range of source texts from different popular genres and media.

The course:
-Aims to give you a secure foundation in theoretical strategies underpinning and supporting the practice of translation.
-Develops your awareness of professional standards, norms and translational ethics.
-Works closely with professional translators and the translation industry helping you to develop a professional identity.
-Has optional modules in dubbing, translation project management, screenplay translation and publishing.


There are no course-based placements on this course. Literary translation does not offer placements, while audiovisual companies offer internships which are competitive.

We support and guide our students through the application process for audiovisual translation internships and have a very good record of achievement. Each year, several of our students win one of these very competitive internships and they tend to be offered full time work on completion.

The course is very industry-oriented and we work closely with the translation industry. Industry professionals teach on the course, supervise students or give guest seminars and lectures.

Academic staff have run Translation Development courses, for example in genre translation for professional translators for the Chartered Institute of Linguists, and they are involved in running Continuing Professional Development courses in specialised translation.

We run a preparatory, distance learning course for the professional Diploma in Translation examined by the Chartered Institute of Linguists. We organise a Literary Translation Summer School each July which is taught by professional, literary translators and with lectures by prestigious translators, academics or writers.

The Translation department runs the John Dryden Translation Competition for the British Comparative Literature Association. The competition is sponsored by the British Centre for Literary Translation and the Institut Français. We offer one internship per year in working on this Translation Competition, interacting with translators, translation judges, managing competition entries and learning about the judging process.

Teaching and learning

The course is taught by academics, industry professionals (for example, audiovisual translation project manager) and translation professionals (for example, award winning literary translators, experienced subtitlers).

Teaching is delivered in a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and lab-based sessions for audiovisual translation. In workshop sessions students work individually, in pairs, group work or plenary forum in a multilingual and multicultural environment.

In all translation modules, there is also a translation project prepared in independent guided study under the supervision of a translation professional in the student’s language pair and language directionality. You can expect some on-line learning, supported by seminar sessions, and industry visits to audiovisual translation companies.

In the Translation project management module, students work in project groups performing real-life translation roles and tasks in a collaborative environment.


Assessment is 100% coursework – there are no examinations.

Coursework assignments are a mixture of essays, translation projects, translation commentaries, subtitling and voice over files or project work. The dissertation is 12,000 to 15,000 words long and can either be a research project on any topic relevant to Audiovisual Translation or Popular Literary Translation / Culture or it can be practice oriented: a translation of an extended text or AV clip with critical introduction to and analysis of the translation.

Coursework assignments: 66.6% (120 credits)

Dissertation: 33.3% (60 credits)


There are five compulsory taught modules plus three elective taught modules, selected by the student from a pool of module choices, plus a dissertation which can be a research dissertation or a practice-oriented dissertation of an extended translation with critical introduction and analysis.

Each taught module is an estimated 150 hours of study. Teaching consists of lectures, seminars and workshops plus independent individually supervised work.

The first part of the translation modules is taught in three-hour sessions (lecture + seminar + practical workshop). In the second part of each translation module, students work on a translation project which is individually supervised by a translation professional who gives written feedback on drafts and provides tailored advice and guidance in individual supervision sessions.

Students can expect between ten and 12 hours of classroom-based study per week, plus time spent on preparatory reading, independent study and research, preparation of assignments.

The dissertation is 60 credits and an estimated 600 hours of study. There are four two-hour research method seminars guiding students through the process of writing a dissertation, plus individual supervision sessions.

All taught modules are in term 1 and term 2 (January – April). Term 3 is dedicated to the dissertation (and completion of assignments from term 2 modules).

Core modules
-Principles and practice of translation theory (15 credits)
-Translating children’s literature (15 credits)
-Subtitling (15 credits)
-Translating crime fiction (15 credits)
-Translating science fiction and fantasy (15 credits)

Elective modules - choose three:
-Principles of screenwriting and the translation of screenplays (15 credits)
-Creating and managing intellectual property (15 credits).
-Dubbing and voice over (15 credits)
-Translation project management (15 credits)
-Translating multimodal texts (comics, graphic novels, manga, video games) (15 credits)
-International publishing case studies (20 credits)

Dissertation - 60 credits
-Dissertation option A (discursive/research)
-Dissertation option B (extended translation with critical introduction and analysis)

Career prospects

The degree is designed to produce graduates who are fit for the market, either working in translation agencies / companies or as a freelancer, addressing the need for properly trained and highly qualified translation experts.

Career options come in a wide range of jobs in the translation industry, ranging from self-employed translator, staff translator or localisation expert to editor, researcher or project manager.

Recent graduate destinations include: video game testing and localisation at Testronic Laboratories; video game translation at Sega; Dubbing, subtitling and voice over at VSI London; translation at the World Health Organisation; project management at Maverick Advertising and Design and at Deluxe Media Europe; freelance translator creative and literary texts.

The degree also lays the foundation to continue to a research degree / doctoral study in any area of translation studies. Currently, graduates from the course are pursuing doctoral study at City, specialising in crime fiction translation.

Visit the Audiovisual Translation and Popular Culture - MA page on the City, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Wiebke Acton

I chose this course because it was the only one in the UK that deals entirely with genre-specific translation.

My main interest has always been dialogue translation, and this course allowed me to tailor some of the modules to my demands. For example, in the Crime Fiction module I picked a murder mystery play to translate for my coursework assignment. Similarly, my dissertation involves children's theatre translation, combining dialogue with the module 'Translating Children's Literature'.

- Why did you choose to study at City University London?
Initially, I was looking for a university that offered a distance learning course in translation which would allow me more flexible study times while continuing my other job. A number of universities offered distance learning courses, but they usually took three years- too long for me. Back then, City ran a 1-year course called 'Principles and Practice of Translation' granting a PG certificate at the end which was just what I wanted.

I took the course and tasted blood.

Translating gave me so much joy that I decided to pursue this further and do a master's. With my PG certificate I could automatically enter an MA course at City without having to apply for it again. I knew I wanted to do literary translation, but with a focus on particular genres, and in 'Translating Popular Culture' I found a course that met my every demand.

- What did you enjoy most about your course?
I liked that the course did not deal solely with theory. Although research and writing assignments played an important part, the course also had a strong practical focus, preparing the students for the industry of literary translation. Guest lectures from publishers and professional translators of the different genres (e.g. crime, comics, children's literature, computer games etc.) gave a valuable insight into the profession. Company visits to the leading subtitling and voice over studios in London were a great experience and provided me with first contacts when applying for work after graduation.

The course included great guest lectures from industry professionals as well as inspiring visits to translation companies in London.
The subtitling software used in the class is that of industry standard and learning to use it allows me now to work for different subtitling companies. The course effectively guides the student on their way from the classroom into the 'real translation world'.


School of Arts & Social Sciences Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme - No. of awards TBC

The School of Arts and Social Sciences is delighted to offer a number of scholarships for postgraduate students. The scholarships are worth £2,000 towards tuition fees awarded on the basis of academic merit and applicants' personal statements.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Worth up to £2,000


In order to be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must:
- be a self-funded student and not in receipt of any other scholarships;
- be a full or part-time student;

Application Procedure

Applicants who meet our entry requirements will be automatically considered for a non-means tested scholarship as part of the application process.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

An upper second class honours degree or a BA / equivalent undergraduate degree from an international institution. Have studied a relevant subject such as Translation, Linguistics, Literary Studies (Philology), English Studies, Modern Foreign Languages, Film Studies, Media Studies, Theatre & Drama or related. Have a high command of English and a second language (either as a native or a foreign language): Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Please contact us for information about other languages.

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Recipient: City, University of London
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