MA Translation Studies (Distance Learning)

The programme is designed to improve your translation skills, introduce you to a range of translation technologies and familiarise you with the professional contexts in which translators work.

Whether your interest is in the translation of specialised documentation (commercial and technical translation), creative writing (literary translation) or the translation of hybrid text genres such as websites or advertisements, the programme will provide you with a solid foundation to develop your career. Training in translation theory and research methods means this MA also offers excellent preparation for further study at PhD level.

The programme is available to students who are proficient in English and another language including Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, German and Spanish. Please note for other language pairings it may be possible depending on available staff expertise. Please contact us if you need further information on the languages available.

We also offer a full-time programme over one year – for more information, see Translation Studies MA.


The programme includes six taught modules and a 15,000-word dissertation or translation project.

You will take six core modules:

  • Introduction to Translation Studies (in different language combinations)
  • Translation Technology 
  • Contemporary Translation Theories
  • Research Methods in Translation Studies 
  • Translation and Language Pedagogy or Multimodal Communication
  • Professional Contexts of Translation

Please note: The deadline for applications is one calendar month ahead of your desired entry date, to allow adequate time for your application to be processed; see 'how to apply' below.

Why study this course

The main advantage of studying by distance learning is the flexibility. Our distance learning programmes have multiple start dates throughout the year so it gives you the option of choosing when to commence your studies with us – in this case February, April, July or October. You can study at home, in your own time and at your own pace, so you can combine achieving a qualification with work or family commitments.

Career changing

A qualification from the University of Birmingham can be the springboard to promotion with your current employer, the platform from which to launch a new career or simply a way to become more effective in your current role.

Studying by distance learning has the benefit of allowing you to develop your career without having to leave employment. It also means that you can apply new knowledge and insights to your working life while you are still studying; many students choose to tackle work-related topics in their dissertations.

And of course, studying at the University of Birmingham is a rewarding and enriching experience that brings about significant personal development.


Although self-study is central to doing a programme distance learning support is always available from experienced tutors.  Our programmes are designed to keep you in touch with fellow students and tutors. The 'virtual learning environment' provides a focal point and helps provide a structure for your learning.


Our study materials are produced by academic staff in the specialist areas and are available online through the University's 'virtual learning environment'. They contain aims and objectives, reading lists, summaries of readings, activities and commentaries, discussion and reflection tasks, indexes and details of assignments required. On joining you are provided with a course handbook that introduces you to the team, provides details of their roles and expertise and gives all the contact information you will need including email addresses so that if you have any difficulties or questions you will know who to contact for help and guidance.

Personal tutors

In addition to the full-time Birmingham based tutors you will be assigned a personal tutor. Personal tutors are available to answer questions regarding the content of your programme, and also to give advice and provide clarification if you don't understand something, for example what an assignment question demands.


You will study six core modules:

Introduction to Translation Studies

This introduces key concepts in the theory and practice of translation. It concentrates on general issues that arise when a text is rendered from and into your particular language combination. The process and product of translation are considered in relation to social and cultural contexts. 

Translation Technology

This will familiarise you with the technology available to enhance the day-to-day work of translators. You will learn both theoretical and practical aspects of translation memories and machine translation, as well as discovering the possibilities for online terminological and text resources exploitation. This, combined with a clear view of the role of translation in the localisation industry, will equip you with the tools to work in the world of language services.

Contemporary Translation Theories

This course looks at current issues in translation theory. The study of translation as a social practice takes into consideration the role of the translator in the transmission of identities, in shaping images of communities and in the spread of political and religious ideologies. Activities in this unit are designed to encourage participants to explore the possibilities open to the translator as an intercultural mediator.

Research Methods in Translation Studies

This module offers research training for professional translations and academic researchers. The main aim of this module is to show you the different types of research projects that can be undertaken within the field of translation either to improve your own practice or to fill in a gap in existing knowledge. 

Options: Translation and Language Pedagogy or Multimodal Communication

  • Translation and Language Pedagogy. This course first introduces you to the approaches and methods adopted in language teaching as part of the curricular design of translator training programmes. It then examines the approaches and methods used in translation teaching as part of the curricular design of modern language degrees. The main objective of the course is to make you appreciate the importance of language-enhancement activities in the development of translator competences as well as the relevance of translating for achieving language proficiency. We will therefore consider language and translation pedagogy as being closely related in the formation of multilingual language professionals.
  • Multimodal Communication. The aim of this module is to provide an overview of the major issues in the area of Multimodal Communication. Particular reference will be made to current social semiotic theories that take into consideration a diversity of communicative modes – language, image, music, sound and gesture – and to how these theories relate to the concerns of teachers and researchers in Applied Linguistics. Gesture and body language, for example, are discussed in relation to spoken discourse, and photography, visual design, colour, typography and layout are considered in relation to written discourse.

Professional Contexts of Translation

This module explores the varied function of roles which translation performs in society. The aim is to gain an understanding of how translation/interpretation and translators/interpreters work in the ‘real world’. The module considers translation in various professional contexts, including legal translation, medical translation, translation in the media (subtitling in TV and film industry). The module provides an insight into the role and status of translators in each of these contexts.

Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

This programme is charged per module.

  • Fees for 20-credit modules up to July 2018: £1,040 per module.
  • Fees for 20-credit modules from October 2018-July 2019: £1,080 per module.

A fee is also payable for the dissertation - this is charged at the applicable rate for the academic year in which it is submitted. As a guide, dissertation fees are £3,120 in 2017/18 and £3,240 in 2018/19.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

Entry requirements

We usually ask for a good Honours degree, or overseas equivalent. However, when considering your application, we always look at your qualifications and work experience as well as your academic credentials. For this reason, it is important to provide details of any current and/or previous employment in your application; it is always helpful to include a current CV but we would ask you to complete the relevant sections of the application form as well.

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Application deadlines for this programme are as follows – 
Entry point: 1 February – application deadline 1 January
Entry point: 1 April – application deadline 1 March
Entry point: 1 July – application deadline 1 June
Entry point: 1 October – application deadline 1 September  

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Although much of the course is delivered through our ‘virtual learning environment,’ support is always available.

You will have a personal tutor and dissertation supervisor to guide you and answer any questions, and you have access to a wide range of online resources too.

You also have the opportunity to meet other students and academic staff through online chats and discussion forums.

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Graduates of the MA in Translation Studies go on to a variety of interesting careers, from working as translators and project managers for major language service providers, to running their own translation companies, or staying on in Birmingham to do doctoral research. In 2015/16, 100% of Translation Studies graduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation.