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 and Introduction to Translation Technology
- Contemporary Translation Theories and Translation and Discourse
- Functional Grammar
- Research Methods in Translation and Corpus Linguistics
- 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.
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 tutors at the University. 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.
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 five core modules:
Introduction to Translation Studies and Introduction to Translation Technology
- 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 into another language. The process and product of translation are considered in relation to social and cultural contexts. The theoretical background is exemplified by a variety of translated texts from different languages.
- Introduction to 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 and Translation and Discourse
- 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 mediator and to encourage comparative studies in areas like: identity construction; post-colonialism, gender and sexuality; language policy among others.
- Translation and Discourse. This course will consider the problems which face a translator at the level of discourse when s/he attempts to render a text into another discoursal community. We will look at features of the linguistic structure of English above the sentence to see what constraints the language presents to a translator. We will examine a range of literary and non-literary text types to see what kinds of options are forced on the translator by differences between two linguistic systems.
Understanding Text (Functional Grammar)
The module introduces the key elements of the influential linguistic theory known as Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), an approach developed since the 1960s by the British-born, Australian linguist, Michael Halliday and his colleagues. Under this approach, language is analysed as a form of social interaction, and the grammatical description of the language is formulated so as to account for its communicative functionality within particular social and cultural contexts. This will focus on how systemic linguistics can be applied to a variety of text analysis tasks relevant to different fields such as language and literacy teaching, translation studies, English for special purposes, the language of classroom interaction, media and cultural studies, and critical discourse analysis.
Research Methods in Translation and Corpus Linguistics
- Research Methods.This compulsory half module examines current research methods in translation studies. 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 Studies. We will look at ways of examining and comparing source and target texts, and we will show how both qualitative and quantitative comparisons can provide important insights into the question of quality control in translation. We will spend time looking at the use of introspection and protocols by practising translators. In addition, we will look at some of the technical tools available to, and used by, translators.
- Corpus Linguistics.The University of Birmingham has a world-wide reputation for work in corpus linguistics – a broad methodology for analyzing large collections of texts. The primary aim of this module is to give you the skills to carry out your own corpus-based studies. As such, this module has a very practical hands-on focus. To introduce you to the core methods in corpus linguistics we use BNCweb, an easy to use online interface to the British National Corpus. Each unit is accompanied by online videos demonstrating how to carry out the analyses, practical hands-on tasks with detailed commentaries, and extension activities for you to gain further practice. The module also introduces you to techniques and tools for constructing and analyzing your own ‘DIY’ corpus, and discusses how corpora can be used in language teaching.
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.
Fees and funding
Fees for entry in February or April 2015 are as follows:
£940 per module
£2,820 for the dissertation
Fees for entry in July or October 2015 are as follows:
£970 per module
£2,910 for the dissertation
Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students
Learn more about fees and funding
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.
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.
Learn more about entry 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
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