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 specialized 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. From September 2017, we are also able to offer an optional module in English-Chinese Interpreting.

There is a range of optional modules focusing on theory and methodology, meaning that this MA also provides excellent preparation for further study at Ph.D. level. We also offer a distance learning programme over 2.5 years.

In addition to being accredited by the EMT Network, we are a member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). We are also part of the SDL University Partner Program, which allows us to allocate free SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance licenses to the top two students studying translation technology each academic year.

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.

Course content

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 offered are as stated above

You will also choose two modules from a range of options.


Most core and optional modules on this course are assessed by coursework, rather than by written examination. The exceptions are Practical Translation which is assessed by exam and English-Chinese Interpreting which features a classroom-based live interpreting test. See module descriptions for further details.

You will also complete a 15,000-word 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 six key competencies needed for translation jobs in international institutions and in the field of multilingual communication, all of which this programme provides.
  • Theoretical foundation - the programme also gives you a solid grounding in translation theory which will inform your practice or prepare you for future study
  • Employability - our graduates go on to 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. 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.

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:

  • by holding an English language qualification to the right level; for this course we ask for IELTS 6.5 in all bands.
  • by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students
Program taught in:
  • English
University of Birmingham - College of Arts and Law

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Last updated October 13, 2019
This course is Online, Campus based
Start Date
Sep 2020
1 - 3 years
9,250 GBP
per year, full-time, UK/EU students. International: £18,450
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Sep 2020
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