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A master's degree in Translation

We talked to Emma Coleman about her experience studying MA Translation and Professional Language Skills at Bath.

Why a master's in translation?

I did my undergraduate degree in Modern Languages and European Studies here at Bath. My degree included a number of translation modules which I really enjoyed (and I was actually quite good at them!) so I decided that translating was something I wanted to explore further.

Choosing to stay at Bath

When I first came to a Bath open day as an undergraduate student, I found it really welcoming. There seemed to be loads of societies and clubs to join, and I really loved the city. Having lived and studied here for the past few years, my initial impressions were definitely right. Campus life is great, so I wanted to extend my experience by studying here for my master's too. Luckily for me, my course has a great reputation here, with links to placement opportunities in really highly regarded organisations such as the UN. It was an easy decision to stay!

What does a master's in translation involve?

On the course at Bath, you can choose two languages to work in; I chose German and Russian. My time is split working between the two languages; I have 1 hour per week of German and 1 hour per week of Russian. Our translation modules include lots of practice in editing and proof reading, which as a perfectionist I have really enjoyed – it’s very satisfying reading through texts and tweaking them until they are perfect!

There are then some optional modules you can choose which allow you to flex the degree to get exactly what you want from it. For example, this year there were modules in freelance skills, interpreting in commercial services or modules focused on working with the United Nations.

There are also opportunities to get short work placements with companies in the translation sector, which can be great experience.

Teachers who are active translators

We’re really lucky in that most of the lecturers on the course are active translators working for organisations such as the UN. This means they can bring their real-time experience to their teaching. They’re really supportive and always available to contact via email if they are not physically on campus.

Challenges

The idea of this course is to enable us to translate as though we are native speakers of our chosen languages. Even though I have good proficiency in both German and Russian, it can be tricky to know how a native speaker would translate something. Sometimes, though the like for like translation is correct, that might not be how a native speaker would understand it. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s really satisfying when you start to get the hang of it!

When I'm not studying...

The way the course is structured means I have been able to get a part-time job this year, so some of my time is spent doing that. I also volunteered at the One Young World Summit in London as well as our own version here in Bath. Course deadlines are given in working days, which means you can still enjoy your weekends – which is a bonus!

Post-course plans

One of the great things about this course is that it develops your written skills more generally as well as in a translation context, so there are lots of options once I graduate. I would like to continue with translation, and I can see myself working in a small company, with a group of people rather than becoming a freelancer.

My advice

If you can, think about the career you might want after the course, and make your choices in terms of languages and modules with that in mind. Remember, if you want to work within the UN, it might be a good idea to choose languages linked to that. Otherwise I would definitely encourage people to apply, as I’ve mentioned, it’s a great course in terms of transferable written skills as well as just translating.