MA Translation Studies

Start date
September
Duration
1 year full-time; 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee.
Fees for 2020/21:
UK / EU: £9,250 full-time
International: £18,450 full-time
More detail.

Develop your career as a professional translator through our flexible and industry ready MA in Translation Studies. Join our global community of translators to discover the art of translation at one of the world’s top 100 Modern Languages departments*.

The global Language Services industry is growing at an impressive rate; two of the top five providers, SDL and RWS, are based in the United Kingdom, and there are many large- and medium-sized providers headquartered in the US, Europe and Asia. Wherever you are based, there is no better time to enter the industry and our innovative MA is ideal for those looking to embark on, or develop, careers as professional translators.

Our programme is designed cover the list of competences required by professional translators published in 2017 by the European Master’s in Translation network. We work closely with translation agencies, freelancers and other stakeholders to ensure that our syllabus prepares you for professional employment in the growing translator industry.

Translation practice is at the heart of the programme, and you will undertake extensive practical and specialised translation in your chosen language pair(s). We also offer training in state-of-the-art translation technology and the opportunity to study another foreign language at beginners, intermediate or advanced level. The MA also provides excellent preparation for further study at PhD level.

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. The industry standard is for translators to work into their mother tongue: we can accommodate all language pairs in both directions except Mandarin, where we offer English to Mandarin but not Mandarin to English.

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.

Study full-time or part-time on campus with us, or via our distance-learning programme over 2.5 years – for more information, see Translation Studies MA by distance learning.

*Research Excellence Framework 2014 

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College of Arts and Law 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

The highlight has been being part of a vibrant multicultural environment with students from all over the world, enabling our lectures and seminars to become melting pots of opinions, approaches and ideas. The strong focus on practical skills and program of career talks from relevant industry professionals means that I feel far more prepared to start my career in this area.

Hannah

Why Study this Course?

  • Access to specialist software - our curriculum includes training in a variety of tools and software, including translation memory tools (Wordfast and SDL Trados), the Sketch Engine corpus manager and text analysis tool, desk-top publishing software and post-editing tools. We embed this training across several of our modules to maximise your training opportunities.
  • Practical preparation for careers in translation - we place great emphasis on getting you ready to hit the ground running in a career in translation, whether you want an in-house or freelance role. We will support you in developing your professional profile to help you secure employment straight after your MA.
  • 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 pursue careers as in-house translators or project managers, set up their own translation companies as freelancers, and specialise in a variety of domains, from legal to literary translation. Recent students have secured competitive internships at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the European Union Directorate-General for Translation in Brussels and at SDL Trados in the UK. 95% of Translation Studies Graduates* are 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.  

*DHLE 2014 -2017

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.


Modules

Core modules

You will study four core modules:  

Theoretical and Analytical Skills

The module introduces the most significant translation theories and their application to translation practice. It focuses on the conceptual tools required for the analysis of the source text prior to translation and the key theoretical approaches and strategies to carrying out a translation. It also examines the importance of pragmatic, socio-cultural, and ethical considerations in informing translation decisions.
Assessment: one essay and one paper analysing a source text and justifying the approach that you would take to translating it

Translating for Business

This module aims to provide you with solid training in written translation. It will focus on translating texts for businesses and organisations, across a range of sectors (e.g. consumer goods, retail, charities and cultural institutions), with particular emphasis on general or technical texts for a general readership (consumers, the public, non-specialist readers). Typical genres covered will be brochures, product descriptions, press releases, instructions and webpages. You will learn key concepts and skills (client interaction, information mining, translating using appropriate strategies, use of corpora and parallel texts and revising/editing/quality assurance) and be introduced to the followed tools: general IT resources, online dictionaries, search engines, termbases, aligned texts and corpus tools.

Assessment: translation from or into English and a reflective commentary

Translation Technology

This module is designed to provide students with hands-on experience of a range of technologies applied to the study and practice of translation. Students will learn how to use the tools most commonly required by employers, such as translation memory and terminology management tools, and critically assess the technological requirements for different translation projects. They 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: critical report

Specialised Translation

This module builds on ‘Translating for Business’ by providing you with further training in your  chosen language pair. The module focuses on the translation of texts for a specialised audience from areas such as business, law, and science, as well as on the translation of creative texts from areas such as literature, advertising, and tourism. You will examine key concepts and challenges associated with each text type and be introduced to the following tools: desktop publishing, corpora, editing and quality assurance tools, and HTML handling.
Assessment: two translations from or into English and a reflective commentary

Optional modules

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

Multimodal Translation

This innovative module will highlight the roles translators play in promoting access to audiovisual content via services and activities such as audio description, captioning and fan subtitling. You will study monomodal and multimodal text types and authentic contexts in which they are routinely translated/meditated, such as in the arts and heritage sector and publishing. Via case studies, you will be encouraged to evaluate the current provision of descriptive and subtitling services and the policies underpinning them and to understand the constraints involved in responding to the needs of diverse audiences. You will discover the creative and educational potential of multimodal translation via a discussion of innovation within its fields.
Assessment: either a reflective or a practical portfolio

Professional Development (Translation/Interpreting)

Our Translation Studies programme is designed around the revised list of competences in which professional translators should be trained, issued in 2017 by the European Master’s in Translation network. The aim of this module is to place emphasis on your professional development, in the spirit of EMT competence #26: Continuously self-evaluate, update and develop competences. Taught sessions will deepen your understanding of the translation industry, support you in understanding how to market yourself, set your rates, interact with clients and so on. It will also afford you space to ‘self-evaluate’ and ‘update and develop’ your competences in ways that you deem appropriate, depending on your future career plans. The portfolio-based assessment will allow you to showcase any activities undertaken in preparation for your working lives (e.g. undertaking freelance commissions, work experience placements or study visits, learning how to use a piece of software/technology, setting up your on-line presence, learning business skills such as profit-and-loss accounting, attending talks or ad hoc training on- or off-campus).
Assessment: 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. 
Assessment: 
Practical examination

Final project

In addition to your taught modules, you will complete a 15,000-word project, which can take one of three forms:

  • Traditional written dissertation: a substantial piece of independent research totalling 15,000 words.
  • Extended interpreting project: you will collect recorded interpreting data of your choice, which should last for 30 minutes in total. You will then write a 15,000-word commentary on the interpreting data and relevant issues involved, reflecting on: appropriate theories, methodologies and approaches to the interpretation of varied speeches; issues such as cognitive and linguistic aspects in simultaneous interpreting; and/or cultural, professional, ethical and interpersonal aspects in consecutive and/or community interpreting. 
  • 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 write a 7,500-word commentary on the text.


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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,250 full-time; £4,625 part-time
  • International: £18,450 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 gov.uk 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.

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

The deadline for International students to apply is Wednesday 1 July 2020. The deadline for UK/EU students is Thursday 10 September 2020.

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

Our Standard 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:

International Requirements


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 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.