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, Greek, 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 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.

The distance learning programme features five core modules:

  • Introduction to Translation Studies (in different language combinations)
  • Introduction to Translation Technology 
  • Contemporary Theories of Translation
  • Research Methods in Translation Studies 
  • Professional Contexts of Translation

You will also choose one optional module (see 'Modules', below).

Assessment

All core and optional modules on this course are assessed by coursework, rather than by written examination.  You will also complete a 15,000-word Translation Studies dissertation or an Extended Translation Project.

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.

Support

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.

Materials

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.

Modules

You will study five 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. 
Assessment: Written assignment

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.
Assessment: One 4,000-word essay

Contemporary Theories of Translation

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.
Assessment: One 4,000-word essay

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. 
Assessment: One 4,000-word essay

Professional Contexts of Translation

This module explores the different aspects of the translation profession. The aim is to gain an understanding of how translation and translators work in the ‘real world’. The module provides an insight into the role and status of translators in society and the different aspects that are pertinent to the professional environment addressing all phases of a translation project, from setting up a translation company to the production of documents to industry specifications. Particular emphasis is given to conceptual and terminological research and to translation (and localisation) of a wide range of texts, such as media (subtitling in TV and film industry) and official and institutional documents.
Assessment: One 4,000-word (or equivalent) translation project

You will also choose one of the following options:

Translation and Language Pedagogy 

This module 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.
Assessment: One 4,000-word essay

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.
Assessment: Written assignment


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

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.

International applicants will normally be required to provide evidence of English language competency (see below).

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

Please review our Entry Requirements before making your application.

Please clearly state in your application (at the top of your ‘Personal Statement’):

  • Which language pair you will be using
  • The direction in which you intend to work. For example: “English to French”, “Spanish to English”, “English to Chinese”, etc.

This information must be provided in order for us to make a decision on your application. 

Application deadlines

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

We 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.  

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.

Course delivery

The course takes 30 months to complete. You will study your taught modules in the first two years of the programme - one per semester, totalling three in each year. In the final six months of the programme you will be focused 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.

Academic community

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.

Distance learning

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

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.

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 
  • 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.

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 local support.

In addition to a range of campus-based events and workshops, Careers Network provides extensive online resources, and 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.