MA Translation Studies

Are you looking to develop your career as a professional translator?

Are you already a translator looking to further develop your skills? Or maybe you are interested in translation and cross-cultural communication as an area of research? 

Our innovative MA is designed with Translation practice at the heart of the programme where 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. 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. From September 2017, we are also able to offer an optional module in English-Chinese Interpreting.

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

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The Translation Studies MA is a degree offered by the Department of Modern Languages. 

Accredited by the EMT Network, this programme is designed to:

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  • 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.

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. (For further details, please see 'entry requirements' below).

The core programme content offers ample opportunity for translation practice. You will study four core modules [full descriptions available below]:  

  • Introduction to Translation Theory 
  • Practical Translation (please see Entry Requirements below for combinations available)
  • Specialised Translation (please see Entry Requirements below for combinations available)
  • Research Methods in Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies

You will also complete a Translation Studies dissertation or an Extended Translation Project (15,000 words).  

You will also choose two modules from a range of options [see 'Modules', below].

You may also take a course in Academic Writing. Those whose first language is not English are particularly encouraged to follow this course.

Why study this course

  • Member of the European Master's in Translation (EMT) Network - this programme has been awarded membership of the European Master's in Translation (EMT); a network of university programmes offering high-quality level training for translators. In order to be admitted, universities have to prove that their translator training programme covers six key competences needed for translation jobs in international institutions and in the field of multilingual communication, all of which this programme provides. 
  • Structure of programme - the programme 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. 
  • Facilities - you will develop a sophisticated knowledge of how computer-aided translation tools work through access to the facilities available within the Department of Modern Languages. Having this understanding will allow you to specialise and engage with complex material allowing you to stand out when embarking on your professional career. 
  • Employability - our graduates go onto pursue a range of interesting careers such as setting up their own translation companies, translating literary anthologies and working as project managers for international companies. Recent students have secured competitive internships at the United Nation Translation Service as the UN Headquarters in New York and at the European Union Directorate-General for Translation in Brussels. In 2014/15, 100% of Translation Studies students were in work and/or further study six months after graduation.
  • Links with industry - we host a series of talks on 'The Translation Profession' which brings speakers with a range of expertise in the translation industry - employers, freelancers, publishers, representatives of national and international organisations - and where students can gain a further insight into the profession. 


You will study four core modules:  

Introduction to Translation Theory  

This module introduces the most significant theoretical and practical aspects of translation, focusing on translation as a profession and in relation to social and cultural contexts. It is designed to challenge your ideas of what a translation is or should be and to think creatively and responsibly about your professional practice as translators.  

Practical Translation 

This module aims to provide you with solid training in translating in your chosen language pair. You will learn how to undertake detailed, critical analysis of texts in the source language and to identify appropriate translation strategies and procedures. You will work on a range of general text-types (such as current affairs), practising techniques such as rephrasing, restructuring and post-editing. You will also learn how to use and integrate a range of software and translator resources into your assignments in a manner which reflects professional practice (e.g. text processing, spell and grammar check, mono- and bilingual dictionaries, internet resources such as terminology banks and parallel texts). You will have the opportunity to practise translation in both directions. 

Specialised Translation  

This module will focus on the translation of semi-specialised texts from areas such as technology, business, literature, science, social science, advertising, tourism and law. You will practise techniques such as glossary-building, drafting, summarising, revising, editing and proofreading. The module will also provide guidance on information sources and research relevant to semi-specialised translation in your chosen language pair. You will have the opportunity to practise translation in both directions. 

Research Methods in Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies  

This module trains you in the methods and approaches to research in translation and intercultural studies. 

You will also choose two optional modules from a range which may include: 

English-Chinese Interpreting

This module will enable students who are proficient in Chinese to undertake interpreting practice on a range of topics, including those from business, legal and medical settings. You will develop a range of skills including: public speaking, memory retention, note-taking, professionalism and ethics/codes of conduct in community interpreting settings, cultural mediation, rapport management, and role management. This module will either be taught in a language laboratory or interpreting suite setting.

Translation Technology

This module is designed to provide you with hands-on experience of a range of technologies applied to the study and practice of translation. You will learn how to use the tools most commonly required by employers and critically assess the technological requirements for different translation projects. You will also gain a sophisticated understanding of how translation tools work and how they have impacted translation, both as a discipline and as a practice.

Translation in a Professional Context

The aim of this module is to simulate a realistic professional environment for you to engage in an actual translation project by working in groups and setting up your own translation company. You will be asked to meet regularly to create the company, along with a website, email address, etc. You will then contact a client, negotiate with them, secure a translation commission and deliver a translation. You will attend seminars about different aspects of the translation profession in addition to practical workshops where you will get hands-on experience.

Contemporary Translation Theory 

This module considers the problems faced by translators from a theoretical point of view. It examines current theoretical thinking in the field of Translation Studies, including cultural theories, sociological theories, political approaches, among others. The module emphasises the role and position of translation (and translators) in processes of identity construction, language/cultural planning, and in the spread of political and religious ideologies.

Translation and Literary Markets

This module will encourage you to investigate and reflect upon the function of the translated text as a cultural product in modern and contemporary book markets. It will encompass theoretical approaches such as systems theory, sociology of translation and reception studies, and will trace the development of modern notions of ‘world literature’ from the eighteenth century onwards. You will apply this framework to a range of topics such as: the presence of translated literature in global translation markets and in the British and European publishing sectors; the history and current functioning of international world literature series’ such as Penguin Classics and Oxford World’s Classics; and practices of reviewing translations in the mainstream cultural press.

Beginners/Intermediate/Advanced Language  

Languages available include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish and Spanish.  Please note – if you are interested in this option, please contact the programme convenors as early as possible as you will need to register for these modules before the start of the academic year. 

Practical Translation 

This can be taken in an additional language to that chosen for your core module; module description as above.

Specialised Translation 

This can be taken in an additional language to that chosen for your core module; module description as above.

Please note that availability of optional modules may vary from year to year.

Please note that the optional modules listed on the website for this programme are 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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £7,290 full-time; £3,645 part-time
  • Overseas: £15,660 full-time

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition 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.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

The language into which you intend to translate should be the language in which you have mother tongue competence, or alternatively your language of habitual use. In the latter case, you may be asked to provide evidence of proficiency.

It will normally be necessary to have training to degree level in the language(s) from which you intend to translate. If you do not hold a degree in your ‘second’ language, you may be asked to provide other evidence of proficiency.

Please clearly state in your application (at the top of your ‘Personal Statement’): [a] which language pair(s) you expect to use for practical translation modules, and [b] the direction in which you intend to work. For example: “English to French”, “Spanish to English”, “English to Chinese”, etc.

Language pairings we can accommodate are:

  • English to Mandarin but not Mandarin to English
  • French to English and English to French
  • Italian to English and English to Italian
  • Russian to English and English to Russian
  • Spanish to English and English to Spanish
  • Portuguese to English and English to Portuguese
  • German to English and English to German
  • English to Arabic and Arabic to English
  • English to Greek and Greek to English
  • English to Catalan and Catalan to English

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

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

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.

As a Translation Studies student, you will become part of the Birmingham Centre for Translation (BCT), which brings together staff and students from across the College of Arts and Law with research and teaching interests in Translation Studies.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the lively international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

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 2014/15, 100% of Translation Studies graduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation.

The programme will enable you to develop a wide range of skills and attributes which will be vital in your future career. In particular, it will give you the ability to:

  • Analyse and translate samples of English and other languages, using appropriate methods
  • Retrieve information, terminology and specialised-knowledge from a range of sources, and use them in their translation practice
  • Communicate effectively in written academic English and use appropriate IT skills, including a range of computer-aided translation tools
  • Interact effectively in a group
  • Plan work effectively, with appropriate time-management skills
  • Carry out research in a selected area, both individually and in terms, and report that research appropriately.

The Birmingham Centre for Translation has  strong links to the profession, and offers a series of talks each year on the translation profession with speakers from the translation industry. This will also help to prepare you for your future career.

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The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; 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.

University of the Year for employability

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