MA in English-Chinese Interpreting with Translation

Interpreting is a highly-skilled profession, requiring academic training as well as extensive practice in relevant settings.

This new MA programme is ideal for those looking to embark on careers as professional interpreters, combining interpreting theory and practice and with teaching taking place in a state-of-the-art Interpreting Suite. You are also encouraged to use these facilities outside of teaching time to develop your practical skills further. 

The course will take you through a range of both introductory and advanced modules, allowing you to develop your skills rapidly across two terms of teaching, and culminating in an extended research project. Your taught modules will prepare you for interpreting in a range of scenarios drawn from business, legal, medical and other interactional settings, and your project will allow you to focus on your chosen topic(s) in depth.

Dr Emma Tyler

Department of Modern Languages

“Our MA in English-Chinese Interpreting with Translation involves intensive in-class practice, delivered in our purpose-built Interpreting Suite, using the professional Televic technology that is employed by international organisations. Students are trained in simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, with the option of taking a course in community interpreting too.”

This programme provides extensive interpreting practice and theory alongside complementary training in translation and in research methods, which provides an ideal foundation for both careers in interpreting or for further research. We have membership 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.

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You will study five core modules:

  • Introduction to Consecutive Interpreting
  • Introduction to Simultaneous Interpreting
  • Advanced Consecutive Interpreting
  • Practical Translation – Chinese
  • Research and Critical Commentary Skills

For your sixth module, you may take English-Chinese Community Interpreting or another module in Modern Languages, or from another department, as appropriate.


Core modules are assessed by a combination of written and practical assignments. You will also complete a 15,000-word research project, in the form of a dissertation, an extended translation project or an extended interpreting project.

Why study this course

  • Facilities – you will have preferential access to our new Interpreting Suite, offering you the opportunity to practice interpreting in one of eight state-of-the-art booths. Core and optional interpreting modules will all make use of these facilities as part of your learning.
  • Employability – the programme will provide you with the specialist skills and practical experience you need to develop a career in interpreting.
  • 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.
  • Specialist expertise – you will be taught by native Chinese and native English interpreting specialists, enabling you to gain extensive practice of working in both directions, under the guidance of experienced staff. 


Core modules

You will study five core modules:

Introduction to Consecutive Interpreting

Through this module, you will acquire fundamental knowledge and skills required for transferring communication between Chinese and English in the consecutive mode. Important skills such as public speaking, note-taking, memorising, number conversion and so on will be introduced. You will also start to accumulate initial background knowledge of popular topics at international conferences. Through workshops and intensive practice, you will be able to interpret speeches with moderate challenges and develop a good understanding of interactional features associated with interpreting. 
Assessment: 800-word reflective report and a classroom-based live interpreting test (10-12 minutes) 

Introduction to Simultaneous Interpreting

This module will introduce you to basic skills required to transfer communication from English into Chinese in the simultaneous mode. Earlier modules on the programme will have helped you to develop sufficient writing and speaking skills that have prepared you to cultivate attention-split, shadowing, long or short memory retention and other capabilities, enabling you to listen and interpret at the same time.
Assessment: 800-word reflective report and a classroom-based live interpreting test (10-12 minutes)

Advanced Consecutive Interpreting

This module is designed to equip you with advanced knowledge and skills of transferring messages in the consecutive mode between Chinese and English languages. Through workshops and intensive practice, you will develop sophisticated skills of managing challenges posed by factors including the speaker’s accent, fewer intervals throughout a speech, complex syntactic structures, and so on. You will also accumulate specialised background knowledge of popular topics emerging at international conferences and relevant terminologies.
Assessment: 800-word reflective report and a classroom-based live interpreting test (10-12 minutes)

Practical Translation 

This module aims to provide you with solid training in translating between Chinese and English. 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).
Assessment: Three-hour open book exam in a computer lab

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 one optional module. Within Modern Languages we are able to offer:

English-Chinese Community Interpreting

This module will enable you to undertake interpreting practice between Chinese and English 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.
Assessment: 800-word reflective report and a classroom-based live interpreting test (10-12 minutes) 

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 three ways:

  • 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 provide 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 provide a 7,500-word commentary on the text in a separate analytical essay in English.

Fees and funding

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

  • UK / EU: £9,250 full-time
  • International: £16,995 full-time

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

Students should have native-speaker proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. It will normally be necessary to hold a languages or humanities-related degree, along with the required IELTS results (see below).

If your undergraduate studies are in other subjects, you may be asked to provide evidence of relevant work experience as a translator and/or interpreter in addition to satisfactory IELTS results.

However, if you already hold a recent undergraduate degree from a British university, IELTS results are not usually required.

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

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

Many of your modules will be taught in our new, state-of-the-art Interpreting Suite, and will involve intensive in-class practice. You will also be taught via lectures, seminars, role-plays and presentations. 

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 eight weeks in the autumn term and eight weeks in the spring term, through weekly seminars. Term dates can be found on our website.

You will take two core modules in the autumn term, and three core modules in the spring term, as follows:

  • Autumn term: Introduction to Consecutive Interpreting; Practical Translation
  • Spring term: Advanced Consecutive Interpreting; Research and Critical Commentary Skills; Introduction to Simultaneous Interpreting

You will also take one optional module during the autumn term. 

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

During the summer term, you will be working on your extended research project, and you will be assigned an appropriate supervisor according to your chosen topic. 

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.

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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.

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