MA Translation Studies

Translation, as a trade and an art, plays and important part in bringing nations together, and facilitating dialogue, understanding and co-operation.

Our innovative MA is ideal for those looking to embark on, or develop, careers as professional translators. Translation practice is at the heart of the programme, and 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.

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


Dr Sofia Malamatidou

Dr Sofia Malamatidou

“Our MA Translation Studies has been awarded membership of the European Master's in Translation (EMT) Network, in recognition of the high-quality translator training it provides. As a result, we have an excellent employability record and have seen our alumni embark on a range of exciting careers both in the UK and overseas.”

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.

In addition to being accredited by the EMT Network, we are a member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and of the Association of Programmes in Translation and Interpreting Studies, UK and Ireland. We are also part of the SDL University Partner Program, which allows us to allocate SDL Studio Freelance licences to our students for the duration of their studies and to award a free license to the top two students studying translation technology each academic year for use after they graduate.

ITI-logoEMT-logoSDL-logoaptis logo

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. We can accommodate all language pairs in both directions except Mandarin, where we offer English to Mandarin but not Mandarin to English.

The core programme content offers ample opportunity for translation practice. You will study four core modules:  

  • Introduction to Translation Theory 
  • Practical Translation 
  • Specialised Translation 
  • Research and Critical Commentary Skills

Language combinations for Practical and Specialised Translation are as stated above.

* For students starting in 2019/20, Greek is available for part-time or distance learning study only; full-time study will be available from 2020/21.

You will also choose two modules from a range of options. Further module information is available below.


Most core and optional modules on this course are assessed by coursework, rather than by written examination. The exception is Practical Translation which is assessed by exam. See module descriptions for further details.

You will also complete a 15,000-word research project, in the form of a Translation Studies dissertation or an extended translation project.

Why study this course

  • Access to specialist software - our curriculum includes a practice of the Wordfast translation memory tool, courtesy of Wordfast LLC and Yves Champollion, and a year's access to SDL Trados. You will also have access to a range of other tools including the Sketch Engine corpus manager and text analysis tool.
  • Practical preparation for careers in translation - in order to be admitted to the EMT Network, universities have to prove that their translator training programme covers five key competences needed for translation jobs in international institutions and in the field of multilingual communication, all of which this programme provides. 
  • Excellent reputation - the University of Birmingham has been ranked as one of the world's top 100 institutions to study Modern Languages in the 2019 QS World University Rankings.
  • 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. Over the past three years, 93% 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. 

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.


Core modules

You will study four core modules:  

Introduction to Translation Theory  

This module introduces the most significant aspects concepts in terms of translation theory and promotes critical discussion of ethical issues of translation, interpreting and intercultural mediation in particular circumstances. General issues that arise when a text is rendered into another language will be considered by drawing on key areas in linguistic and textual analysis. The process and product of translations will be discussed in relation to social and cultural contexts. The theoretical background will be exemplified by a variety of translated texts from different languages. 
Assessment: One 1,000-word essay (25%) and one 3,000-word essay (75%)

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 for Arabic, Catalan, French, German, Greek*, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Russian. 
Assessment: Three-hour open book exam in a computer lab

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 for Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, French, German, Greek*, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Russian. 
Assessment: Two 1,000-word translations and one 2,000-word commentary

Research and Critical Commentary Skills 

This module introduces the most significant areas of translation research and prepares you to conduct a research project and critical text analysis. You are trained in critical reading and commentary skills, design of research questions, selection of appropriate methods, questions of ethics and validity, and learn to construct an argument and generate hypothesis on the basis of existing evidence. 
Assessment: A 2,000-word proposal for either a research-based dissertation project or a research-informed extended translation project

Optional modules

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

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word professional portfolio

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Languages for All  

Languages available include: French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Spanish. All these languages can be studied at beginners level and the more popular ones are also available at higher levels. Advanced modules are offered in French, German and Spanish only. 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 examination

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.

Research project

In addition to your taught modules, you will complete a 15,000-word research project. You can choose to complete this in one of two ways:

  • Traditional written dissertation: a substantial piece of independent research totalling 15,000 words.
  • Extended translation project: you will translate a 7,500 word text of your choice, drawing on appropriate theories, methodologies and approaches to the translation of different text-type and genres, reflecting on issues such as target audience and function, and using a range of translation resources. You will also provide a 7,500-word commentary on the text in a separate analytical essay in English.

* For students starting in 2019/20, Greek is available for part-time or distance learning study only; full-time study will be available from 2020/21.

Please note, part-time students starting in September 2019 will be affected by some module changes for their second year of studies. For more information, please contact Dr Emma Tyler.

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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,250 full-time; £4,625 part-time
  • International: £16,995 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.

Fee status

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

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 September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

Paying your fees

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. If you do not hold a languages or humanities-related degree, you may be asked to provide evidence of relevant work experience.

International applicants will normally be required to provide evidence of English language competency (see below). However, if you already hold a recent undergraduate degree from a British university, IELTS results are not usually required.

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 (available part-time only in 2019/20)
  • 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

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(s) you expect to use for practical translation modules
  • The direction in which you intend to work. For example: “English to French”, “Spanish to English”, “English to Chinese”, etc.

Application deadlines

International students requiring visas

Monday 1 July 2019 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2019 made after this date - a new application should be made for September 2020. Applications will reopen for 2020 entry in early October 2019.

UK/EU students

Please apply by Thursday 12 September 2019*. However, we would encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity, to allow adequate time to prepare for starting your studies once receiving a decision on your application.

* Students applying on 12 September must submit their full application with all necessary documents in order to be considered for September 2019 entry. Late applicants are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor for advice.

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

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.

All modules make use of our modern facilities, and teaching will take place in a lecture theatre or a computer lab. For your translation classes (Practical Translation and Specialised Translation) you will be divided into language groups – each year we can have up to ten language-specific groups. 

We also 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.  

Course delivery

Teaching takes place over ten weeks in the autumn term and ten weeks in the spring term, through weekly seminars. Term dates can be found on our website.

Full-time students will take two core modules in the autumn term, and two core modules in the spring term, as follows:

  • Autumn term: Introduction to Translation Theory; Practical Translation
  • Spring term: Research and Critical Commentary Skills; Specialised Translation

You will then take two optional modules; one in each term. During the summer term, you will be working on your dissertation or extended translation project, and you will be assigned an appropriate supervisor according to your chosen topic and language pair. 

Part-time students will take three modules in year one and three modules in year two. To cater for the needs of part-time students, we make an effort to group classes on specific days of the week. There is some flexibility, but the recommended structure is as follows:

  • Autumn term, year one: Introduction to Translation Theory and Practical Translation
  • Spring term, year one: Research and Critical Commentary Skills or Specialised Translation
  • Autumn term, year two: Your choice of optional module
  • Spring term, year two: Research and Critical Commentary Skills or Specialised Translation; your choice of optional module 

During the summer term of year two, you will be working on your dissertation or extended translation project, and you will be assigned an appropriate supervisor according to your chosen topic and language pair. 

Each module typically represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

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.

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. Over the past three years, 93% 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.

Quote by alumna Christa Parrish

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.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.


We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.