Translation Studies Practice-Based PhD (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Start date
Full-time: 3 years, part-time: 6 years
Duration
Flexible – September or January encouraged
Course Type
Postgraduate, Distance learning, Doctoral research
Fees

Annual tuition fee 2021/22:
UK: £4,500 full-time, £2,250 part-time
International: £18,810 full-time; £9,405 part-time (distance learning only)
More detail.

Put your passion for Translation into practice with our Practice-Based PhD. This new programme brings together our expertise in Translation Studies and supervising practice-based research to support you in producing a original work of translation supported by a critical commentary. 

Join a stimulating research culture within the  Department of Modern Languages, and benefit from our dedicated facilities for Translation Studies research including access to specialist software and an excellent collection of library resources, including e-resources.

On the practice-based programme, you will translate a source text of 18,000-50,000 words that is of significant, publishable quality. This will be supported by a critical commentary on your translation project of no fewer than 50,000 words, which is informed by rigorous research and will discuss, where relevant, critical and creative processes. 

Potential source texts include both literary genres (e.g. novels, prose, short stories, screenplays, stage plays, poetry) and non-literary ones (e.g. memoirs/correspondence, academic texts,  semi-specialised scientific writing).

Please read our frequently asked questions for further details on this practice-based programme.

You may be interested in comparing this programme to the Translation Studies PhD / MA by Research, which is delivered without the practice-based element of this course.

Postgraduate scholarships available

The College of Arts and Law is offering a range of scholarships for our postgraduate taught and research programmes to ensure that the very best talent is nurtured and supported.

Learn more about our scholarships

You can study our Translation Studies Practice-Based PhD on campus or by distance learning. Our distance learning website contains useful information, including frequently asked questions, student experiences and details of the funded visit to Birmingham.

Birmingham has an excellent academic reputation with leading experts in the field which makes it the perfect choice to carry out research in this field. There is a vibrant research community with lots of opportunities to meet other colleagues at workshops, seminars and conferences organised by the Department

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Why Study this Course?

  • World-leading research: In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) results, 75% of research at the University of Birmingham for Modern Languages and Linguistics was judged to be ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. We also have a strong track record of supporting practice-based research within the Department, as well as in the wider College
  • Employability skills: Translation skills are highly sought after in an increasingly global employment market. You will be an expert in this field, but also develop a range of transferable skills including the ability to gather and interpret information, organisational and communication skills and the ability to work well with others, while cultural awareness and foreign language skills are highly sought after by employers. 
  • Community: We have a lively programme of translation-related events at Birmingham, and we also have strong connections to the international translation community. We are a corporate member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. Our staff are active members of the European Society for Translation Studies and the International Association of Translation and Interpreting and we are also a partner in the ARTIS initiative (Advancing Research in Translation & Interpreting) and IPCITI (International Postgraduate Conference in Translation and Interpreting). We have hosted an annual Translation Studies Research Forum featuring a guest lecture by a distinguished scholar and there continues to be a lively programme of translation-related events.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

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Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2021/22 are as follows:

  • UK: £4,500 full-time; £2,250 part-time
  • International: £18,810 full-time; £9,405 part-time (distance learning only)

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes a fully-funded visit to campus for each full year of the programme.

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.

* For UK postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2021.

For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in the 2020/21 academic year. For more information, please read the government’s guidance for EU students.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Paying your fees

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

How To Apply

Practice-Based Research Proposals

Your proposal will not differ in many ways from a standard PhD research proposal. However, a strong proposal for a practice-based project should also include:

  • Details of your source text and a description of your proposed target text
  • A explanation of why your translation will be an original, substantial piece of work which demonstrates e.g. your professional, creative practice and which will be of publishable quality
  • An explanation of how your project relates to current work in Translation Studies, with reference to some of the relevant secondary literature which might inform your approach
  • A brief statement explaining why you are interested in undertaking research with us at Birmingham. Many projects are achievable without needing a PhD, so it is helpful to see why you are interested in working within academia

Application deadlines

Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by 1 July 2021.

Distance learning students will attend a residential visit in September or January, and those students wishing to attend the September residential are also encouraged to apply by 1 July 2021. The visit will take place at the end of September/beginning of October and you will receive further details once you have accepted your offer.

Six easy steps to apply for a postgraduate research course in the College of Arts and Law

Six steps to apply for our Postgraduate Research courses

Do you have an idea for an interesting research project? You can follow our six easy steps to apply to study for our postgraduate research courses. These include guidance on identifying funding opportunities and writing your research proposal.

Please also see our additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Please note: While our PhD programmes are normally studied in three years full-time or six years part-time, and Masters-level research programmes one year full-time or two years part-time, many programmes have a longer length listed in course or funding applications. This is because the course length is defined as the maximum period of registration, which includes a period of supervised study plus a thesis awaited period. The maximum period of registration for a full-time PhD is four years (three years supervision plus one year thesis awaited). For a full-time Masters-level research programme, it is two years (one year supervision plus one year thesis awaited). For part-time programmes, the periods are double the full-time equivalent.

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

Our Standard Requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK, usually in a relevant area.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent), usually in a relevant area.

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements


We have considerable experience as practising translators. Members of staff in the Department have published a number of literary translations: from poetry and short stories from Persia, Georgia and Russia, to Latin American Golden Age comedies, to novels and short stories by Spanish, Colombian, Ecuadorian and Mexican authors. Our research expertise covers a wide range of genres, both literary and non-literary.

Please contact a staff member working in your area of interest to discuss your research in the first instance. 

Other Modern languages staff research supervision areas

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Modern Languages

Our Modern Languages postgraduates develop excellent communication skills, cultural awareness and foreign language skills - all highly sought after by employers at home or abroad. Postgraduates in Modern Languages also have a range of transferable skills including the ability to gather and interpret information, organisational skills and the ability to work well with others.

The latest data shows that 85% of Modern Languages postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2017). Many of our graduates enter roles for which their programme prepared them, such as language teaching oe translation. Others use their transferable skills in a wide range of occupations including publishing, executive research and project management. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include Language Connect, RWS Group, TransPerfect Global Business Solutions, University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge and University of Oxford.

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