Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Hilary Byrne

MA Interpreting & Translating

Hilary ByrneWhat struck me most about the MA Interpreting & Translating was how practical it is – this was a refreshing change for me, however it was also quite daunting, in particular the emphasis on rapidly developing public speaking skills.

The staff were very supportive, and what’s more, they are all practising or former professional interpreters and translators. This is essential for a skill such as interpreting, which can only be acquired through long hours of practice and focused feedback from someone who’s been through it all; someone who understands how you’re feeling, and knows how to improve your performance.

I really enjoyed the mini-conferences organised each month – these conferences gave us a chance to try our out skills for real, and to develop that all-important booth etiquette!

For my placement, I spent two weeks at the United Nations office in Geneva, where I attended a variety of conferences, ranging from Human Rights Council sessions to meetings on road safety and seed potatoes. It’s important to realise that not all of conference interpreting concerns grand political speeches – in fact, a considerable portion of the work performed by the interpreters in Geneva is on more everyday topics such as road safety. Both types of work are enjoyable in different ways. This was also an invaluable opportunity for me to spend time in a real booth (with the microphone off, of course!) at real meetings, and to get to know some of the professionals I hope to work with in the future.

Overall, I have enjoyed living in Bath, and having access to the library 24 hours a day. The Self Access Learning Centre and interpreting labs have also been invaluable. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take advantage of the wonderful sporting facilities or the many societies on offer at Bath, but I did appreciate the free coffee on Thursdays for postgrads!

After I graduate, I hope to build a career as a freelance interpreter and translator, combining the skills I have acquired and honed during my MA. I will be sitting UN freelance interpreting exams in Geneva next year.