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MA in Interpreting and Translating
Postgraduate Admissions

MA in Interpreting and Translating

Programme Specification


Awarding Institution/Body:

University of Bath

Teaching Institution:

University of Bath, Department of European Studies and Modern Languages

Programme Accredited by: (inc. date of accreditation) n/a
Programme approved by: (inc. date & min. no. Dept, FBoS, QAC, Senate) The programme was established in 1966 and
upgraded to Master's level in 1996.

Final Award:

Master of Arts
Postgraduate Diploma (awarded to students who pass the taught part of the programme but do not submit or successfully complete the dissertation/ project)

Programme Title:

MA in Interpreting and Translating

UCAS Code (if applicable):


Subject Benchmark Statement:


Intended Level of Completed Programme: (in line with FHEQ)


Duration of Programme and mode of study: One calendar year, full time
(Nine months for Postgraduate Diploma)
Date of Specification preparation/revision: Prepared September 2001, revised January 2005, this revision September 2007


The programme covers the disciplines of conference interpreting (simultaneous, consecutive and liaison) and translation. It teachers techniques and skills, not languages, and is a vocational programme geared to channelling students into professional work. To this end, the core and optional interpreting and translating components are complemented by extra-curricular classes designed to provide students with appropriate background knowledge. In broader terms, the programme reflects a commitment to the application of learning in placements and applies and professional knowledge.


The aim of the programme as a whole is to equip students with the skills and techniques that are required to embark on career as a professional interpreter and/or translator. More specifically, the aim  of the core and optional units is to maximise each student’s potential so that as many as possible of the group achieve the standard necessary for professional work.

These aims (and the associated outcomes set below) are in keeping with the descriptor for a qualification at Master’s (M) level contained in the QAA Framework for Higher Education.

Qualifications, which states for example that holders of the qualification will typically be able to deal with complex issues systematically and creatively, continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, develop new skills to a high level and have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment (points a-d).

The extra-curricular units are aimed at encouraging students to focus on some of the practical aspects of working as a professional linguist, including the use of information technology, and to familiarise them with subjects such as the institutions of the EU, international law and economics so as to inform and underpin their work in the interpreting and translating elements of the programme.

The aim of the dissertation/project is to allow students to demonstrate that they have acquired a comprehensive understanding and critical awareness of the issues involved In some particular aspect of professional work, together with the capacity to solve problems in an original and independent way. This likewise matches the Master's level descriptor referred to above (points i, ii and iii).


Knowledge and understanding:

Postgraduate Diploma

Students who complete the various core and optional units successfully will have advanced their knowledge and understanding of conference interpreting and translation and assimilated the principles and techniques of the professional activities involved, with a view to applying these in practice as described below.

To this end, throughout the taught programme, the teaching, learning and assessment methods are based entirely on realistic professional scenarios. Theory IS consistently integrated with practice to ensure that students understand the rationale for what they are doing.

Students who have followed the various extra-curricular units should be able to demonstrate a sound understanding of the relevant topics in their translation and interpreting activities. These units are delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars, and are not assessed. As indicated above, they are designed to inform and underpin students' work in the other elements of the programme


In addition to the above, students are expected to use their dissertation/project to demonstrate that they have acquired a comprehensive understanding of the issues and processes involved in some particular aspect of professional work which they have explored in an original way.

Intellectual Skills:

Postgraduate Diploma

Students who complete the various core and optional units successfully will be able to deal with a range of complex linguistic issues both systematically and creatively.

The most important intellectual skills developed in the programme are: (a) the sophisticated mental and analytical processes required for successful spoken-language activities such as interpreting; (b) the ability to make the kind of linguistic judgements that will produce a satisfactory end product for the client in terms of a completely accurate and coherent translation.

These skills are developed gradually through classwork, practice and constructive feedback, and can be deployed when performance is assessed, as described below.


In addition to the above, the dissertation/project requires students to analyse various key Issues confronting the professional linguist within a clear theoretical framework. In doing so, they will acquire and demonstrate further insights into professional practice at the highest level.

Professional Practical Skills:

Postgraduate Diploma

Students who complete the various core and optional units successfully will have developed a number of new practical skills in highly specialised areas that provide them with the expertise required for professional work.

The programme is chiefly geared to developing practical, professional skills in the two main disciplines it covers. By taking part in realistic teaching and learning scenarios such as simulated conferences, a wide range of role-play interviews and team translation assignments, students are equipped to cope with actual working conditions and therefore able to demonstrate more effectively the techniques they have been taught.

Hence students are expected to be able to apply the knowledge, understanding and intellectual skills they have acquired to produce satisfactory translations in their target language and adequate interpretations of extended speeches and dialogues.

The key factor in assessment is the usability of the translation, finished text or interpreting performance. Detailed marking guidelines have been drawn up for both text- and speech-based activities, with bands of marks to which definitions of performance are attached. These are included in the Programme Handbook.


In addition to the above, the dissertation/project allows students to demonstrate both an awareness of practical problems in relevant areas of professional work and, in particular, their capacity to solve these in an original and independent way.

Transferable/Key Skills:

Postgraduate Diploma

Students who complete the various core and optional units successfully will have acquired a number of more general qualities and transferable skills that are required for employment in the areas covered by the programme.

All students have the opportunity to enhance their communication skills (listening, analysing arguments, oral and written expression, awareness and evaluation of own performance). Simultaneous interpreting also requires an element of teamwork. Students are expected to acquire IT and information retrieval skills through their work in the translation units.

The extra-curricular unit "Approaches to professional work" includes sessions on enterprise skills that allow students to consider strategies for team building and to develop their interpersonal skills.


In addition to the above, the dissertation/project provides a means for students to demonstrate that they can make practical judgements and decisions on their own initiative and have the independent learning ability required for further professional development.


An overview of the programme and its component units IS provided by the "Programme Description" on the University Intranet.

The languages available on the programme at present are Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. Students are admitted to one of two "paths": Path 1 involves working from two foreign languages into English; Path 2 involves working in both directions between English and one foreign language.

The taught element of the programme lasts for two semesters: students eligible to proceed to the MA then have until 30 September to complete their dissertation/project.

The programme consists of two year-long core units (consecutive interpreting and translation), two core units in Semester 1 (simultaneous and liaison interpreting), three optional units in Semester 2 (simultaneous interpreting, additional translation and public service interpreting) and a variety of extra-curricular units. Some of the latter run for the whole year, others for only one semester; both types may be delivered either as regular weekly lectures or as occasional whole-day or half-day sessions through the year.

The year-long core units carry a total of 36 credits, and those in Semester I a further 12. The Semester 2 optional units in additional translation and public service interpreting each carry 6 credits. and those in simultaneous interpreting 3. The extra-curricular units are not assessed and do not carry credits. Students are required to obtain a total of 60 credits from the taught element of the programme. The dissertation/project carries a further 30 credits.

The programme is currently available only on a full-time basis. The notional hours associated with a set of core and optional units for the year (totalling the necessary 60 credits) are 1000, typically breaking down into 198 of class contact, 424 of guided practice/coursework and 378 of preparation and research.

After completing the taught programme to the necessary standard, students may proceed immediately to their MA dissertation/project. This can take one of two forms: a thesis-type project on a topic covered by the taught programme, or an extended translation with a commentary. In both cases, students are allocated a supervisor who advises them on their choice of project and monitors its execution. The normal length for each type is around 15,000 words.

Students who decide not to submit a dissertation/project may be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma (see "Progression Regulations" below).


A number of work placements in Western Europe are made available to students during Semester 2 in the language services of international organisations, government departments and commercial enterprises. These are mostly for students from the European stream of the programme. They cannot be guaranteed, however. as they are dependent on the willingness of host organisations to accept students under this arrangement. As many students as possible are visited by programme staff during their placements. It should be noted that the great majority of these placements are unpaid, and students should thus allow for the necessary cost of travel and accommodation.


Upon registration at the University, all students are provided with a series of induction sessions designed to introduce them to academic and other facilities and procedures. This includes briefings on the Library, computing facilities and use of the interpreting equipment. The International Office organises further introductory sessions for students from outside the EU.

Descriptions of all the units offered in the programme are available on the University Intranet, accessed through the ESML Department's homepage. Full details of the programme itself, the ESML Department and other aspects of postgraduate study are set out in the Programme Handbook. also available on the Intranet - a paper copy is provided in the Department Office and the postgraduate workrooms.

These workrooms (shared with the other ESML taught Master's programmes) contain PC terminals, printers, tape-copying equipment and a range of dictionaries and other reference materials. Multi-media facilities and live foreign-language TV viewing are available in the Self-Access Language Centre on level 5 of the Library. The Centre is open all day, in the evenings and at weekends. Students have access to the interpreting rooms (via coded keypads) for practice at most times outside teaching hours. All this ESML equipment is maintained by the Department's own audio-visual technician.

Each student is assigned a personal tutor for the duration of the programme who can act as an initial point of contact in the event of personal or academic difficulties. All students naturally also benefit from the support services provided centrally by the University. These include the extensive sports and arts facilities, the students' union, the health centre and dentist, the counselling, careers and learning support services, the chaplaincy, in-sessional English language, foreign language and IT training courses, the nursery, etc.


The programme is open to graduates, and students undertaking the final year of their first degree, who show that they have the required linguistic aptitude.

Applicants whose first or "A" language is not English are expected to have an IEL TS score of at least 7.0 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components) and/or a TOEFL rating of at least 620 (paper-based test) or 260 (computer-based test). The IEL TS qualification is preferred.

Non-graduate applicants and holders of alternative qualifications who can demonstrate an equivalent level of competence will also be considered.

Applicants will normally be invited to Bath for interview and testing. For Chinese and Japanese candidates, interviews and tests will generally be conducted in Beijing, Hong Kong. Taipei, Tokyo and Os aka. Special arrangements may also be made for speakers of Chinese or Japanese to be assessed in other cities; the same applies to applicants offering Spanish who are based in the Americas and other candidates who would find it difficult or particularly expensive to travel to Bath.


The full scheme of assessment is contained in the Programme Handbook. Details of the assessment procedures for each unit are included in the Unit Descriptions: these are available on the University Intranet, accessed through the ESML Department's homepage.

In brief, assessment takes place:

  • by coursework and examination for all the units involving translation;
  • by examination only for all the units involving interpreting.

The extra-curricular units are not assessed.

The key factor in assessment is the usability of the interpreting performance or translation. Detailed marking guidelines have been drawn up for both interpreting and translation, in consultation with the External Examiners, with bands of marks to which definitions of performance are attached. These are included in the Programme Handbook.

To qualify for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma, students must successfully complete core and optional units totalling 60 credits and achieve an overall mark of at least 40%.

To proceed to the MA by dissertation/project, students must successfully complete core and optional units totalling 60 credits and achieve an overall mark of at least 40%.

Students achieving an overall mark of 70% or more are eligible for a Distinction.

Dissertations/projects are marked internally and moderated by an External Examiner, In accordance with the Faculty's requirements. They are not awarded a percentage mark, but placed in one of four categories: distinction, pass, conditional pass and fail. A conditional pass means that the student must make a number of corrections within a specified time.

To be awarded a Distinction for the programme, a student must achieve that grade for both the taught element of the programme and the dissertation/project.

Students who fail a taught unit by scoring less than 40% in the assessment may attempt to retrieve that unit once only, subject to the requirements for such reassessment laid down in each case by the Board of Examiners for the programme. Likewise, a dissertation that fails marginally may be resubmitted once. by a deadline set by the Board of Examiners.

Students whose dissertation fails, or who are eligible to proceed to the MA but do not submit a dissertation within the specified time limit, are awarded the Postgraduate Diploma.


Only three other UK universities offer similar courses in these disciplines. Because of the small number of trained graduates produced each year, national accreditation/benchmarks have not been developed. The ESML Department is a corporate member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and operates its own translation business, Syntacta, based in Swindon.

The observers attending the interpreting examinations, the language departments hosting placements, and organisations recruiting graduates from the programme are all sounding-­boards for quality. Comments from these sources have generally been favourable in recent years; where they have been otherwise, corrective action has been taken. The standing of the programme has remained high, and employers continue to send us advance warning of recruitment campaigns and competitions - and indeed to recruit directly from the programme.

Students offered places on the programme will be eligible to apply for AHRB bursaries under its scheme of support for vocational postgraduate courses (Professional Preparation Masters). It should be noted that there is an early deadline for such applications, normally in April.

In addition to the AHRB bursaries that are obtained, students have regularly been awarded bursaries by the European Commission under its scheme for supporting young interpreters.

The ultimate test of quality and standards is the ability of students graduating from the programme to find work as professional linguists. Their record in doing so has been outstanding and graduates from Bath are to be found working in the language services of international organisations, government departments and commercial enterprises throughout the world.