MA in English-Chinese Interpreting with Translation

Start date
1 year full-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

Annual tuition fee for 2024 entry:
UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £23,310 full-time
More detail.

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

Our MA in English-Chinese Interpreting with Translation 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.

This MA programme 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.

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 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.

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. Finally, we are also a member of the Association of Translation Companies, which enables us to work closely together with a number of translation companies to support the new generation of language services industry professionals.

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Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships

At Birmingham, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your studies.

The highlight has been being 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.


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.
  • Internships – the course offers the opportunity to apply for internships to add to your experience and support your career progression. For example, students on the course have successfully completed internships with Birmingham Jazz Fesitival for between two - four weeks. You will be supported by our career mentoring sessions to apply if of interest.  
  • Excellent reputation  – the University of Birmingham has been ranked as one of the world's top 100 institutions to study Modern Languages in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.
  • Specialist expertise – you will be taught by specialists in both Chinese-English and English-Chinese interpreting and translation, enabling you to gain extensive practice of working in both directions, under the guidance of experienced staff.

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.


You will study four core modules and two optional modules plus a final 15,000 word project.

Core modules

You will study four 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: reflective report and classroom-based live interpreting test

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: reflective report and classroom-based live interpreting test

Translating for Business (Chinese) 

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 English into Chinese and a reflective commentary

Optional modules

In addition to the compulsory modules, you will also choose two optional modules from a range that may include: 

English-Chinese Liaison Interpreting (Chinese-language students only)

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: reflective report and classroom-based live interpreting test

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

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 (Chinese)

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 English into Chinese and a reflective commentary

Contemporary Theories of Translation

This course considers the problems faced by translators from a theoretical point of view. The course 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: essay

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

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.


We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2024 entry:

  • UK: £10,530 full-time
  • International: £23,310 full-time

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.

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

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

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students (requiring a VISA) to apply is 30 June 2024. The deadline for UK students is 30 August 2024.

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard 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.

International/EU students

Academic requirements: 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 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in speaking and writing, and a minimum of 6.0 in listening and reading. 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 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in speaking and writing, and a minimum of 6.0 in listening and reading is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 95 overall with no less than 22 in speaking and writing and 20 in listening and 21 in writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic overal 76, 67 in speaking and writing, 64 in listening and reading
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 185, with no less than 176 in speaking and writing and 169 in reading and listening

Learn more about international entry requirements.

International Requirements

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 both the autumn and spring terms

  • Autumn term: Introduction to Consecutive Interpreting; Translating for Business
  • Spring term: Advanced Consecutive Interpreting; Introduction to Simultaneous Interpreting

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

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).

The University of Birmingham is the top choice for the UK's major employers searching for graduate recruits, according to The Graduate Market 2024 report.

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.