Skip to main content
Start Dates
Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

Program code


Ready to Apply?

Course details

The MA in Translation Studies is a specialist course that will provide you with the professional skills to translate between a wide range of languages and English and equip you with an understanding of translation as an academic discipline with its own cultural and historical heritage. The course prepares graduates to become professional translators and intercultural communicators or to go on to academic research in the subject.

The languages you will be able to choose from include Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish.

The course has been developed around modern theories and strategies and is enriched by the input of professional translators and research-active staff. There are modules in language, the use of translation technology, linguistics, professional skills, subtitling, professional ethics, project management, and intercultural awareness. For Chinese there is also interpreting.

The course can be taken full-time over one year or part-time over two years and is based in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures in the centre of Durham.

In support of your studies, you will have access to a wide range of technical facilities, technical expertise and software, including an interpreting suite for Chinese interpreting, and specialist eye-tracking and key-stroke logging equipment for process research projects. You can gain practical experience from the work placement scheme and will also benefit from the programme of master classes with professional translators and visiting speakers.

We are a partner of the Chartered Institute of Linguists which acts as an assessor and moderator for the course’s specialised translation exams, and offers the opportunity to gain a CIoL qualification as part of the course.

The focus of the course is effective intercultural communication and we are proud of the vital work our graduates do in fostering international understanding.

Course structure

All the MA programmes offered by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities consist of three components:

  • a Major Research Project to the value of at least 60 credits

  • Core Modules to the value of 0-90 credits, depending on the programme
  • Elective Modules, making up the total number of credits to 180; some of these modules will be defined as Recommended Electives for particular programmes.

Students studying the MA in Translation Studies can choose from one of three 60-credit Major Research Project options as follows: 

  • Translation Studies Dissertation (15,000 words)
  • Extended Translation Project (10,000-word translation, 5,000-word commentary)
  • Two Standard Translation Projects in different languages or directions (5,000-word translation 2,500-word commentary)

You will also be required to take the following 30-credit core module:  

Translation Theory, Research and Practice will examine various theories and issues of translation such as text type, target audiences and translation strategies, matching theoretical points with practical translation examples to give you a sound understanding and insight into key aspects of modern theories in translation. The module will also improve your understanding of the processes involved in translation and the main assessment criteria for good translation practice. It will also teach the research skills needed to complete the course and for future research at a higher level. You will also be given instruction and hands-on experience with computer assisted translation tools that are essential for a professional translator.

Additionally, you will take either one or two Specialised Translation modules (30 credits each), choosing from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian or Spanish. These, which include different text-types and subject areas, aim to provide you with the necessary grounding and training to translate in both directions between your chosen language(s) and English. They give you the experience, ability and confidence to translate independently between languages.

Depending on the precise combination of core modules chosen above, students may have up to 60 credits of elective modules available from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities so that your total number of credits adds up to exactly 180.

The Recommended Electives aimed specifically at Translation Studies students include:

  • Consecutive Interpreting (Chinese<>English)
  • Simultaneous Interpreting and Sight Translation (Chinese<>English)
  • Subtitling & Advanced CAT Tools
  • Translation Ethics and Intercultural Project Management
  • Translation Work Placement
  • Translation Practica: Processes and Products

Additional Language Option:

MA students can choose to take, in addition to their main course, a 20 credit language module at MLAC’s Centre For Foreign Language Study. This offers a wide range of European, Middle Eastern and East Asian languages at levels from complete beginner to advanced. Students who choose this option will gain an additional 20 credits, i.e. 200 credits in total. Details can be found here


The course is delivered through a mixture of seminars, workshops, lectures, group projects, research seminars and individual tutorials. The balance between these learning sessions will depend on your study programme, which you can direct towards either training in professional translation or an in-depth examination of the practices, theories and global impact of translation.

Optional modules for the former will include specialised language or language-oriented subjects while the modules for the latter will take a broader view of translation across a mix of cultures and timespans.

There will be a shift from taught hours to more independent study and work experience in the third term, meaning you will complete a research-focused dissertation or a vocational-related translation project.

You will also be expected to attend master classes and lectures by visiting speakers, which are seen as an integral part of the course.


Assessment is rigorous and carried out through translations, essays, reports and a final dissertation or translation project plus commentary; one-to-one supervision is provided for the dissertation / project.

Translation modules are assessed by a portfolio of work featuring two 1,000-word texts in terms one and two respectively and a 1,000-word translation commentary, providing a sample of the variety of text-types with which you will have engaged during the module.

You will also complete a final timed translation of a general text, following the conventions of professional standards for translators

Entry requirements

Applicants must have an upper-second class bachelor degree or equivalent in a relevant area.

Students with a different academic background but significant professional experience in translation are also invited to apply. In such cases, we reserve the right to assess students’ preparation for our course through a test.

Students should possess at least level C1, and preferably C2, of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (or equivalent for non-European languages) – in their chosen language(s) – Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, or Spanish– and in English. In some circumstances, we may require students to provide proof of language competency.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,400 per year
EU students £23,500 per year
Island students £11,400 per year
International students £23,500 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,300 per year
EU students £13,000 per year
Island students £6,300 per year
International students £13,000 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Our approach to learning and research encourages a freedom of thinking and expression about language and cultures that provides sought-after skills and a worldview that will be attractive to top employers.

In an environment of globalisation, the ability to display a knowledge and understanding of the diverse world we inhabit and to understand and communicate effectively is crucial.

Following graduation, we offer the option of building on your research activity at a higher academic level and progressing into teaching with roles at universities across Europe, the USA, Australia and the Middle East a viable option.

If your aspirations lie more towards developing a professional career, our qualifications offer a weather of opportunities with recent graduates taking up positions in university administration, translation, analytics, museum curating, rare bookselling and the French film industry.

For further information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Department information

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures is a world-class centre for teaching and research in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic, Italian, Japanese and Russian Studies. We provide an outstanding environment for research activity, adopting an open and flexible approach to study.

Support and guidance are given by the committed subject experts that can be found in our academic team. They are passionate about their specialisms, which cover the relevant languages, literature, cultural history, cinema and visual culture, and translation.

This significant reservoir of knowledge is reflected in the diversity of the topics being researched in the School. Key areas of in-depth study activity range from Translation Studies and Film Studies through to Science and the Humanities, and Gender and Sexuality.

Our postgraduate community is vibrant and active and is fully involved with events both within the School and within wider University postgraduate groups. Our research postgraduates are involved in organising major conferences and lead research seminars as part of their learning experience.

Language provision at Durham consistently ranks within the top five performing Schools in the UK according to university league tables. We feel this reflects our deep commitment to research that nurtures cultural understanding and inspires a love of languages and forsters an understanding of different cultures in an era of increasing globalisation.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 2nd for Italian Studies in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • 5th for Asian Studies in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 5th for Iberian Languages in The Complete University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Modern Languages and Cultures pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 8th in the UK for research power (REF 2021)


The School is located on Elvet Riverside, which is close to the ancient Elvet Bridge and within easy walking distance of the University colleges, the Students’ Union and the historic centre of the city of Durham.

Learning facilities include language laboratories, computer classrooms and a large study area. There are also satellite and recording facilities for viewing programmes in all the major taught languages.

The University's fully equipped Centre for Foreign Language Study is housed in the same building, and members of the Languages and Culture School have access to its facilities.

Similarly, the Translation Zone provides a place to meet translators, learn how we teach translation and attend seminars and master classes.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

Similar courses

Chinese Studies with Year Abroad - BA

UCAS Code: T102
Start: September 2024
Chinese Studies with Year Abroad

Japanese Studies with Year Abroad - BA

UCAS Code: T202
Start: September 2024
Japanese Studies with Year Abroad

Languages, Literatures and Cultures - MA

Program Code: R9T207
Start: September 2024
Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Visual Culture - MA

Program Code: R9T307
Start: September 2024
Visual Culture